Claire Celsi is the director of public relations at Spindustry Digital in Des Moines, Iowa.
When I was growing up, my grandma Celsi lived next door to us. My grandma and Mom took turns making a traditional Sunday pasta dinner. When it was Grandma’s turn to cook, all we had to do is keep the kitchen window open to hear her sweet little voice yell, “Reeeaaddddyyyy” toward our house. We’d drop the Sunday comics section and high-tail it over there.
For some reason, Grandma’s pasta sauce was always slightly better than my mom’s. It was thicker, richer, meatier and just had that extra va-va-voom. Her meatballs were also better – more tender, flavorful and delicious. Try as she might, Mom could never quite replicate it, no matter how hard she tried.
Years after grandma died, Mom stumbled upon a grocery list my Dad had written for her. It was obviously the ingredients for her magic Sunday pasta sauce. There was one surprise on the list – pork scraps. Apparently, Grandma used to take pork scraps and fry them, then she browned the meatballs in the same pan before throwing them in the sauce. The resulting extra flavor was the missing ingredient. (Side note: Here's a fun little video of me and my mom rolling meatballs for a lasagne-like dish called pastachina (pronounced "pasta keen-uh")
Mom’s specialty is German potato salad. She carefully follows her great-grandmother’s recipe – which called for chopped baby gherkin pickles. And even though it was not in the recipe – I noticed that Mom always throws in a substantial splash of pickle juice. However, when I went to look up Mom’s potato salad recipe in the church cookbook - she had left out the splash of pickle juice. Apparently, she has learned a little trick from Grandma.
So, I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck this has to do with PR.
Some companies just have a little pork scraps and pickle juice in their marketing mix. Using PR throughout the year is a smart way to keep ahead of the competition, yet it’s often not the first thing marketers think of when compiling their list of things to do for the year. Here are a few things to add to your marketing recipe:
- Know what makes your company different and special – this is your pickle juice and pork scraps. Every company has a special recipe.
- Make a list of newspapers, trade pubs or other media outlets your customers will likely be paying attention to. The list doesn’t have to be extensive. In fact, honing a short list of really interested media outlets is smart.
- Don’t forget digital journalists. There are many bloggers and thought leaders in the digital space. Many of them have “crossed over” from traditional journalism, so they have a foot in each world. They are real journalists too – so treat them exactly the way you would a “regular” reporter.
- Reach out to the media outlets every week or every month, depending on your resources. I call this “heartbeat” PR. Like the steady thump of your heartbeat, news and tidbits of information should be shared with your media targets on a regular basis.
- Make an annual plan. Whether your PR is being handled in-house or you have an agency helping out, spend some time thinking about your initiatives, special projects, new product releases or anniversaries.
- Allocate resources. Figure out how much time or money you should allocate. If you’re having trouble finding the money to pay for PR, add up all the money you’ve spent on marketing in the last year, and spend a fourth of it on PR next year. I guarantee you that your audiences will pay more attention to positive media coverage than an ad.
PR is the pork scraps missing from your pasta sauce and the pickle juice missing from your potato salad. Add a little PR to your marketing mix for the extra bit of va-va-voom.