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Developing a Roadmap for an Effective PR Campaign



{mosimage}Generally, a target audience consists of some mix of the following: operator customers, manufacturers, distributors, industry (i.e. associations and manufacturers), media outlets (i.e. business or trade) and others (i.e. investors). Remember that a PR campaign is meant to build awareness at all levels—not just the primary customer but those other companies that can further endorse or carry your message.

Be sure your communications are tailored to the specific needs of each trade publication. Don't be afraid to look beyond just food and beverage publications when sending your news. Association newsletters and science journals can be very effective in reaching niche segments and addressing specific issues that may not be appropriate for a more general audience.

When determining the best way to reach your audience, it is important to choose the proper medium and the right angle for your message. Which publications are your targets are reading? Which events they are attending?

Once you have your targets' attention, keep them interested by staying on top of the latest industry trends and issues. Another way to engage your audience is to create a "perfect story" that will contain news and messages that will truly resonate with reporters so your company is always top-of-mind. Make sure that your story contains one or more of the following components:

  • Eminence — News that involves a well known industry professional (e.g. leading foodservice chef, chain executive)
  • Human Interest — News that provokes emotion (e.g. charitable event)
  • Importance — News and information that addresses key food and beverage trends (e.g. nutrition, menu analysis)
  • Innovativeness — News that has not been covered before (e.g. breakthrough manufacturing technology)
  • Originality – News that is unique to the food industry (e.g. product exclusivity in marketplace)
  • Timeliness — News and information that is current (e.g. national food and beverage industry event)

    Practice Before You Accelerate Before approaching the media, prepare your messages in advance and practice, practice, practice. Without a sharp message that is tailored to your intended audience, your points will go unheard. The key is to develop clear, coherent messages that are newsworthy to your target audience.

    When developing your messages, ask yourself the following three questions:
  • What are the key benefits that your message conveys? (e.g. flavor, nutrition, etc.)
  • What industry needs does the message address? (e.g. manufacturing, packaging, quality, formulating, etc.)
  • What current industry trends/issues does the message address? (e.g. low-carb, reduced-fat, etc.)
    Always practice your messages before going to the media. Take the time to evaluate your performance (with the help of others), to identify what you need to repeat and what you need to improve. Focus on being competent, creative and likable.

    Meeting the Media's Need for Speed
    Now that your objectives are clear, your target audience is defined, and your messages are in place, it's time to approach the media. Media relations is a big component of the PR process and takes much time and practice to master.

    Working with reporters can be challenging at times. They work on tight deadlines and may request the help of a PR professional without much advanced notice. One of the fool-proof ways of generating media opportunities for your organization is to establish a good relationship with the media by fulfilling as many requests as often as possible. If a reporter finds you and your organization to be a reliable and credible source of information, he or she will keep you in mind for future editorial opportunities.

    In order to maximize coverage, take the time to understand and work with each reporter's schedule. Pay attention to the reporter's deadlines, beats and communication preferences. Also be sure that you always provide credible, accurate and timely information. The media's time is so valuable that any effort you can make to simplify their job will make you a preferred source for future coverage.

    Public Relations: A Journey, Not a Destination
    Making public relations a part of your integrated marketing approach is the best way to achieve successful results. The synergy between sales, marketing, advertising and PR efforts makes a campaign much more effective than using only one of the components.

    Public relations brings something to the mix that no other component does -- credibility. PR adds credibility to marketing messages through media placements. Public relations adds value to an organization by helping it achieve its business goals. As your goals and strategies change over time, so will your map. A successful PR campaign must be able to withstand the occasional bump in the road, so revaluating your goals and strategies on an ongoing basis will help to ensure your company maintains a positive image that will foster goodwill and increase sales in the months ahead.

    Remember too that a PR campaign may target foodservice publications, don't forget that DSRs, sales rep, and brokers are also carrying the same message to the current or potential customer. Each of these individuals is a spokesperson for the company and must be trained accordingly. While a DSR for example may have good information or knowledge on a particular product line, are they equipped with enough information on the distributor itself, what it stands for, and what makes this company unique? For PR campaign to be effective, all must be "on the same page" with the overall message.

    Your public relations roadmap is now complete. Sit back and enjoy your ride down the highway to success!

    Tom O'Connell is president of Marketing Concepts, Inc., and a member of the ID Editorial Advisory Board. O'Connell has 30 years of experience in the foodservice and food processing channels. Prior to starting Marketing Concepts more than 13 years ago, he was vice president of marketing for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, creating innovative marketing programs for generic promotion. Prior to that, O'Connell was service as vice president of sales for a major food processor. Through years of experience and hundreds of key contacts within the industry, he has gained an expertise in the food industry that has earned the respect of distributor, operators, and manufacturers alike. As president of Marketing Concepts, he is responsible for overseeing the management and execution of a unique firm that offers strategic direction, business development, market research, and marketing direction/execution. O'Connell, who coordinated the execution of ID Update 2003, has earned several awards from the industry for his unique programs, tactics, and overall thinking, has served in an advisory capacity to numerous foodservice associations. For more information on overall communications, contact Tom at Tom@marketingcpts.com or 608-798-1444.


    Carol Jouzaitis is senior vice president, director of public relations for Slack Barshinger, a full-service marketing communications company that specializes in effective business to business client support.

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