Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to 2019! 
Much has been written in the marketing sphere about 2018 highlights and predictions for the New Year. Despite the volume of analyses and advice offered, it seemed that specific commentary was lacking from the public relations perspective. 
So in this issue of Marketing Coach,I provide a look into what awaits us and areas of focus as you seek to meet your brand goals for reputation management.
Happy New Year! 
Welcome to 2019: PR is Not an Island 

PR is not an island 

Public relations will continue to become more of an integrated partnership, with clients depending on PR pros to weigh in on all sorts of issues that don't fall into the traditional buckets of press releases and media outreach. To ensure a seamless brand story and strong messaging, PR will be consulted on topics ranging from brand identity, business strategy, employer image, marketing, social media, and partnerships.
Storytelling will be a priority

'Storytelling' was one of the key buzz terms in 2018 and continues to be at the heart of developing brand marketing and reputation strategy. From a PR perspective, the story is the heart and soul of the public interface. It can be seen as the key outcome of an integrated media relations and public education strategy. While the brass tacks have us creating pitches for the press and copy for blogs and websites, storytelling is the promise a pitch is offering. It's taking thought leader expertise, brand promises and corporate culture and bringing them to life through every channel - external and internal.
All media relations is political!

In today's politically charged media environment, you have to know who you are pitching, their personal bent and the media outlet's editorial slant. You don't want to offer your story to someone whose world view makes it impossible for them to deliver a professional journalistic assessment of your story. Your brand can't afford to be associated with a position that isn't supported by your mission and values. Likewise, some media outlets will be particularly interested in your story based on the point of view they intend to share with their readers/viewers/listeners. 

All that said, don't be paranoid or so narrow as to avoid media that cover opposing viewpoints. Don't avoid a major business, news or trade outlet because it ran a negative story about your industry. Be deliberate and thoughtful. Most brands want to be in front of people with a wide array of perspectives, and many reporters are able to distill a good pitch and interview into a responsible story. 
This means that the PR professional's role is more important than ever. We must prepare spokespeople effectively with strong messages and rehearse responses to difficult and potential curve-ball questions.
Thought leadership remains high on the list

If your brand is looking to establish its market leadership, then sharing stories and ideas that demonstrate your company and leaders' expertise and effectiveness should be at the center of your PR strategy. Stories and media pitches that focus on product features and employee engagement are valuable for specific goals and audiences, but do not necessarily let the market know of your brand's value.
Social media is not a PR strategy - chicken-egg

Many are investing more in social media campaigns to ensure a flow of fresh content every day. Many social campaigns are initiative-based and most are short form with teasers and factoids. Social media content is most effective when it tag-teams with the overall plan including media coverage, blogs, expert videos and talks, and other PR and marketing strategies and tactics. 
New tech enhances PR, though not necessarily media coverage

Artificial intelligence may help refine story development and targeting. VR/AR/video may provide visually engaging ways to entice your audience and tell your story. When considering leveraging one of these vehicles, think about which story angles and methods will bring your brand to life in a way that makes it newsworthy and not just promotional. If you want to be taken seriously and generate third-party credibility with the press and industry leaders, the message is as important -- or more so --as the platform and design.
Paid content: viable when deliberate

While many brands aim to control their message through paid content, readers have caught on and are questioning authenticity. Paid content can supplement your marketing campaign and increase searchability and awareness that will support growing your brand's presence. It provides a platform to deliver content that exposes certain media and audiences to specific information. Nevertheless, sometimes it is best to take your time to secure earned media coverage and the coveted third-party credibility before spilling all of your best content into a paid effort.
Media relationships still matter

If building third-party credibility is valuable to your brand, some tried-and-true principles still stand. Reaching out to the press cannot be a one shot deal. It is important to learn about the media outlets you are targeting and understand what types of stories individual reporters write about to increase your odds of getting a one-to-one success ratio when reaching out to a reporter.  
Unless you have one of the top news stories of the day, you will need to be in regular and periodic contact with your target journalist to introduce them to your brand story and keep them informed of timely and newsworthy nuggets. How does your client fit into the competitive set? If your client is a market leader, what about their expertise or performance indicates that? Are there meaningful new initiatives or new points of view that the brand has underway to share with a reporter? 
Most brands still need professional guidance to identify stories and match them to relevant outlets and reporters.
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 Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through thought leadership, public education, issues management, content strategy, and strategic communications.  To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation contact, call 212-399-0026 or visit   
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