PR Tips Podcast 004: What Is Public Relations With Erica Lee

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 On this episode of the podcast we answer the question, “What is public relations” with Erica Lee the founder of StrategicLee. Erica is a 20-year veteran of marketing and PR, and StrategicLee is a boutique San Francisco-based public relations consultancy whose focus is “fast-growth” stages for startups and enterprise technology clients. Erica and her team are help businesses with their PR Whether you’re a small startup who has recently closed a round of funding, or you’re an established player looking to make a big splash with a new product launch.


What is public relations

“PR is about making your phone ring,” Erica says. The PR process can be approached in many different ways, but if your businesses isn’t getting interest from customers, you PR isn’t working.

PR is about achieving your business goals through public facing communication, in print press, on blogs, on television, speaking at conferences, and so forth. But regardless of the tactics, its about getting new customers and strengthening your relationship with current customers.

What is not the job of a public relations firm

“Companies need to own their voice,” Erica says. Specialist PR firms are just like any other business; Each team has key areas of strength. In the early stages of a company your PR firm can help you with messaging and positioning, collateral development, and market research, among other tasks, Erica says.

Over the long term, however, it’s your responsibility as the founding team to come up with the company voice, mission statement and business strategy. PR can play an important role, but shouldn’t be a substitute for in-house work.

What questions should you ask when you interview a PR firm

It’s OK (and encouraged) to speak with several public relations specialists before choosing the PR firm that is right for your business. Before taking this step, Erica says it’s important to define yourself first. What are the key strengths of your team? what is your unique selling proposition? how are you changing the world? The better you understand the qualities of your own story, the better match you will find in a public relations firm or PR specialist.

When is it too early to begin the PR process

“If you’re not doing consistent PR you’re losing your audience,” Erica says. She compares the start/stop approach to PR to a sprinter beginning a race flat-footed. It’s better to set aside the budget and resources for consistent PR, rather than making noise and going silent for six months. “Timing is everything. Don’t be afraid to wait,” Erica says.

How does a startup or small business demonstrate thought leadership

“We’re all looking for what is going to be the future of our business,” Erica says. Business thought leadership comes in many forms, such as white papers and case studies, webinars and contributed articles to relevant publications. Anything that interprets trends, or predicts the future path of an industry is a great opportunity for your business to stand out as a thought leader.”Slow down and really think about how you want PR to be a reflection of your business,” Erica says.

And it’s important to demonstrate your knowledge while being “vendor neutral.” Don’t aggressively promote your product or service, or you will damage the credibility of your message.

What is the difference between public relations strategy and tactics

Public relations strategies and public relations tactics are often confused.”If you don’t have a full story ready, no one is going to write a full story around you,” says Erica.

Your public relations strategy has to come first. A public relations strategy is the roadmap of opportunities, Erica says. Once you know what you want to accomplish it becomes easier to select the proper channels, journalists and methods to get your story to the intended audience.

Public relations tactics will help you track important metrics of success, such as new customer acquisition, and reaching other important milestones.

What are examples of really effective uses of PR

Erica says that LinkedIn’s ‘Top 1 Percent‘ campaign, is an excellent example of integrated public relations and marketing. LinkedIn, the professional social network, notified users when they were among the top one percent of most-viewed profiles, and sent them a snazzy email certificate. Did you receive one? The move was pre-announced, and users who were notified often shared the news with their social networks, further amplifying LinkedIn’s marketing message. Pretty clever, no?

Where can you go to learn more about the PR process

Erica recommends checking out the Website of the Public Relations Society of America. The PRSA has comprehensive resources for public relations professionals and n00bs alike.

Got a PR question for Erica?

She can be found at StrategicLee on Twitter, and anywhere Internetz are found.

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