January 21, 2014 / Public Relations Public Relations: Move Your PR from Workhorse to Racehorse

Todd Walter

By: Todd Walter

Marketing with racehorse PR

In B2B marketing, public relations often serves as a workhorse.

PR tactics tend to focus on press releases, trade show press conferences, articles in trade publications and media relations with journalists who cover client industries. These tactics revolve around the use of third-party editorial coverage to reach a particular audience. I call this “workhorse” PR because it can reliably deliver good results year after year. In fact, many clients build their PR programs specifically around the use of media relations to generate publicity.

With the rise in social media and other direct channels, I think it’s time to consider implementing more “racehorse” PR. By this, I’m referring to more dynamic PR tactics, programs or campaigns designed to reach an audience directly with a specific mission or objective; for example, a one-time campaign to educate or persuade an audience, create awareness, launch a product, motivate specific user action or even recruit new employees.

In this regard, editorial outreach is just one possible tactic to support the bigger outcome. Other tactics in the campaign can be flashier with the goal of directly engaging the audience, perhaps with a special event, social media program, direct mail, a celebrity appearance or other creative publicity attraction. Advertising also can play a complementary role to support the specific campaign.

One of my favorite “racehorse” PR campaigns centered around a nationwide contest targeting construction contractors to see who was the fastest at driving five screws into a piece of wood with a cordless drill. The grand prize was a million dollars (the payout was covered with an insurance policy, in case you’re wondering). The campaign objectives were to build awareness around the product launch of the new drill and to help drive customer traffic to the company’s industrial retailers and distributors. Promotional tactics included local and trade media relations, advertising, web, some direct mail and direct customer interaction.

Although I can’t share product sales numbers, the campaign was successful not only in generating national media coverage, but it also helped deliver traffic to the distributors and it got the company’s product directly into the hands of the customers who use it. Mission accomplished.

I’m not advocating for the abandonment of “workhorse” PR tactics, but I encourage you to consider some “racehorse” PR tactics the next time you need to address a unique marketing challenge.

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