Commonly, the typical PR person likes to write press releases, post them out to newswires, and say a little prayer that your company’s stories will be lucky enough to get in the media. It’s not surprising that’s the preferred method of many PR teams. It’s the path of least resistance. Your PR team doesn’t have to talk to anyone and can, instead, stay hidden safely behind a desk. Sounds great, right? Problem is, that method does not work.
According to this survey from Vitis, only 37% of journalists use wires daily while 30% use wires occasionally and 21% never use them. This means that a huge chunk of journalists never or rarely see your PR team’s press releases. If they don’t get seen, they don’t get published.
To make matters worse, of the reporters who do use wires, only about ¾ of them use them to actually write stories. The rest simply use it to monitor industry trends and check facts. Factor in how many of the journalists that do see your wire are also journalists who cover stories in your industry and your chances of getting published get even more dismal.
So, what do you do?
Treating PR as a Sales Process
Rather than rely on passive tools like newswires and press releases, the best PR teams are proactive and treat the PR process as if it is a sales process. This means that they target the right people in the media, crafting your pitch, and making cold calls to sell your story.
“The way that I have been approaching PR throughout my career is like [a] sales role – and you need to treat it like a sales role. Typically, marketing or communications people are not wired the same way as salespeople are. It takes a salesperson to make true PR work.” – COO Alliance
The question is, what’s a reasonable expectation for landing stories with a proactive PR that uses sales tactics as well?
Expectations for PR as a Sales Process
Assuming that you and your PR team are targeting writers who write your types of stories as well as ones in media outlets that have readers that would genuinely be interested in them, what follows is a rough estimate of the numbers you might expect from a PR person. This is assuming that this individual has already been trained on your product, your company, and your industry.
So, what should you expect?
- Monthly: You should expect five stories per PR person at minimum
- Daily: Each PR team member should make six outbound pitches to journalists. Each pitch, most of which should be done through phone calls, should include these components:
- Notes are taken from research on the target
- A recording of what was said on the call
- A setup follow-up with times to call the writer back if necessary
- Verification of the writer’s contact information
You also want to follow up with prospects from calls made weeks prior. Your PR team should be making a lot of phone calls–at least 120 a month. (6 calls a day x 5 days a week) x 4 weeks a month = 120 outbound calls a month. This should all generate five stories a month.
This should all cover national, regional, and local media. It should also cover spreading the calls out over TV, radio, print, online, newsletters, and blogs.
These numbers are pretty conservative as well! If the angles are well thought out, and if your PR team sells well, each person should be able to land even more than five stories a month. Five stories a month is a 4% success rate on those cold calls. The national average for cold call success rates is actually 6.16%–and that’s the number for people selling something that costs money. Your stories are free!
ROI Metrics and the PR Sales Process
You and your PR team shouldn’t waste time with fancy ROI metrics. The only thing your PR team needs to track is how many total stories they are landing each month. That’s it!
Don’t waste time tracking media impressions to come up with some fancy ROI. You’ll know after six months that your method of PR works. Spending time over-tracking things just wastes time that you could spend pitching more stories to the media.
Dreaming Big in the PR Sales Process
Finally, don’t let your PR team limit themselves to small and local media outlets. Dream big to see significant results! So, start pitching to writers from the Associated Press, from Bloomberg, and Dow Jones News Service.
Even some of the regional papers work in syndicates, in which case your story could run in multiple newspapers. Pitching one person from the Associated Press could get you into more than one hundred papers that same week (versus trying to pitch to a hundred different writers). Leveraging can yield tremendous results.
So, what’s the best thing you can do for your PR? Treat it like a sales process! That’s when you’re going to get lots of stories published and when your metrics will be significant. So, give it a try!
How do you sell your stories to the press? Do you have any strategies of your own? Let us know in the comments below!
If you have questions or would like more information, we’d be happy to help. Please send us an email, and someone from the team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.