If you would like to generate more recognition and demand in 2015, be sure to prioritize your public relations strategy. Effectively serving the media to build your brand starts with developing and an action plan and associated budget.
Why plan for and invest in media relations?
Our wine industry marketing and sales research report, which includes over 20 statistically actionable findings, showed that increased frequency of engaging the media predicted increased cases sold directly to consumers and online. Further, there are broader benefits of operating with a marketing plan and budget. For example, we found that wineries operating with a plan have larger wine clubs. And that increased annual investment in marketing predicted a number of positive outcomes: increased direct to consumer, online, and distribution sales; larger wine clubs; and higher tasting room fees.
So we have identified a four tips for getting your 2015 PR plan on the path to success:
1. Start early
Begin identifying what you would like to accomplish in 2015 while it's still 2014. The earlier you start planning for the year ahead, the easier it will be to get off to a running start from January 1. Waiting until March 15 to determine the course of year means you will miss out on coverage opportunities, as many lifestyle publications have a four to six plus month lead time for story angles. We are currently pitching spring and summer stories, for example.
2. Identify your specific goals
Your plan should include key messages as well as specific goals for relationship building and coverage. For example, you might have goals to meet with 10 journalists, send 50 samples and gain 20 articles over the course of the year. Your plan should identify specifically what you will do and when to make this happen.
One of our company goals this year was to host two portfolio media events. During our July and September events in Seattle and Portland, respectively, we shared a selection of wines and stories while building our relationships with 11 regional journalists. Planning for these events began in late 2013 with detailed work starting three months out. Another goal of ours was to beat our coverage gained for clients in 2013 -- 420 articles, and we're thrilled to report we're already at 500 for this year.
3. Keep it simple and clear
Outline your plan by month or quarter and segment deliverables between on- and off-site event promotion, new releases and developments, market travel and important events.
For example, a sample client's September 2014 plan included pitching a harvest press release, coordinating a wine launch reception, hosting a media experience and detailed scheduled travel and wine sample submission calls for the month. A simple plans doubles as a checklist once you are in the implementation phase. And at Trellis Growth Partners, it is where we start when preparing monthly progress reports.
4. Revisit regularly
Many argue that an unwritten plan is just an idea. Well, we believe that a written plan is just scratch paper unless it's monitored regularly.
You can't predict a full year ahead and plans are guaranteed to change. However, this is not an excuse to avoid planning -- it's an invitation to view it as a dynamic process and revisit it regularly. By revisiting the plan weekly or monthly, perhaps during staff meetings, goals and plan deliverables will seem much more attainable. Further, when changes occur, it is a lot easier to shift established goals and timelines than to implement a backup plan at the last minute.
For example, earlier this spring, a client scheduled the opening of a new tasting facility. When the launch got delayed, we shifted the plan and instead pitched story angles originally scheduled for Q3 in place of the tasting room launch. Since we had pre-planned each story angle, we had alternatives to pitch, and did not lose momentum. Think of your marketing and PR plan as a puzzle -- you will need to shift the pieces around before getting a perfect fit.
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