leverageinfluenceA potential client called recently to engage the services of WAV Group Communications. Typical to most initial conversations with many potential clients in the real estate industry is the misunderstanding of what public relations is. I assured him it was much more than simply writing a good news release and publishing it on a paid wire. That topic alone is another column.

But the conversation reminds me of how little time PR people take to educate our industry about what PR is. To help in this effort, let’s explore a crucial area that shows how powerful strategic PR can be using leverage.

3 Ways to Leverage Your PR

A major component of public relations is publicity. Once you successfully gain the attention of news media and they run a story about you, your firm or your new product, a lot of companies just sit back and move on to the seeking out the next reporter for the next story.

Don’t do that, because once a story runs, you’ve just gotten started. This is where leverage plays a crucial role is strategy public relations. There are three crucial channels you must leverage: External, Internal and Influencers.

External Leverage

The entire reason you sought publicity in the first place was for a specific purpose, right? Perhaps to help raise awareness, drive sales, incrementally increase revenue, introduce a new product, create a buzz, build moment and interest – whatever your goal, you should take that coverage and leverage it.

For example, imagine a story that runs in the NY Times that mentions your new product. Your first act of leverage is to socialize it. Share it through your social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram – focusing on the ones you use regularly, even if it is only one. Using popular hash tags are crucial to this act of leverage. Mastering these will exponentially increase your total audience reach.

This is where most folks stop. What they forget is not only does your target audience love the NY Times, but so do the major TV news networks. And other newspapers, trade reporters, and bloggers who follow your industry. PR pros will use this story as leverage to gain the attention of other media outlets. The Times coverage not only legitimizes your news, it gives you the opportunity to find another angle to build on what they have reported, giving other media outlets a fresh hook that will earn their attention.

Then comes more leverage opportunities; Repurposing the content. Share the Times story and give it a long shelf life; Feature it on your website, add it to your samples of key news stories that your sales force share with clients, embed it at the end of your email signature of all your folks after a p.s. that says “Did you see us in the NY Times?” and hotlink your text.

There are many more ways you can leverage with your external audiences. These are just a few, but you can see that one story can have a far greater impact if you think strategically about how to leverage it.

Internal Leverage

This is the one area that’s really vital and often done as a second thought. It should be baked into your primary activities when it comes to leveraging your PR. That’s because your employees, your investors, your management team and your board of directors all share in your success. They are your most interested parties and you need to make them a primary audience when it comes to leveraging news coverage.

Here’s why: They can enormously extend your reach. When you encourage them to share the NY Times story, and that includes specifically asking them to tweet it out or share it on Facebook, you are multiplying its impact and you are reaping benefits you can’t get any other way.

That’s because when you involve your employees in sharing key news coverage, they are not only proud to work for a company that’s earned the attention of the NY Times, they are connected to the process. When someone has a role in the process, it makes them that much more committed. News coverage leveraged internally helps build employee morale and it fosters commitment.

Talk about it at a staff meeting, leave a hard copy printed out in the coffee room, and recognize employees who do the best job in sharing your news with others. Don’t ever forget your internal leverage.

Influencer Leverage

This area takes the most work, but can yield the greatest return for your effort to leverage these three key channels. Every industry has a small group of people who can help you connect to thousands if not tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. They may be bloggers, or folks who have thousands of followers on a particular social media channel, or they might be key industry consultants or industry experts who speak to the top decision makers in your industry – or your key audiences – on a regular basis. All of these people can be called influencers.

Influencers often yield more power and impact than they themselves recognize, and collectively, when you target them and solicit their help in sharing a key news story, the results can be truly remarkable. More importantly, even if the information you share with influencers doesn’t have an immediate impact, chances are it will over time. At the very least you have kept you, your company and your new product in front of this group.

This is where the art of public relations excels, and that is in building relationships, both in person and remotely. Building strong relationships with key influencers takes time. You have to earn their trust and prove that you can provide them information, on a consistent basis, that doesn’t waste their time, but has value. The key with this group, like it is with reporters, is being a resource. You can’t just focus on what’s in it for you; You must always focus on what’s in it for them. But when you establish a relationship, influencers will help you when asked, and the results can often be more powerful than the time you spent leveraging both your internal or external channels.

If you have a question about Public Relations or a topic to suggest, feel free to email at kevin@wavgroup.com.