Welcome to The PR Desk, our latest monthly feature! Written by PR professional Heather Travis, it guides bloggers on the ins and outs of navigating the world of PR agencies and brands. This month, Heather gives great advice on finding the right PR contacts for the brands you'd like to work with.
In our first post we learned some tips on how to rock our relationships with PR agencies, but wait! How do we know which agency handles which brand? In this post we’ll learn how to find right PR contact.
Finding the right PR contact for the brands you’re hoping to work with can be super simple and also crazy tricky.
Sometimes influencer programs are run via the in-house PR team, sometimes it’s the PR agency, sometimes it’s a marketing team or agency that works in collaboration with a PR agency and the in-house team, and sometimes… Well, you get the picture. Hopefully with a few of these tips and strategies you’ll be one step closer to finding the right contact.
Use your blogger network
We bloggers are a friendly bunch. If one of your bloggy friends has worked with a brand you too want to work with, reach out to them. Not only can they be helpful in pointing you in the right direction in terms of contact information, but they can also offer up insights on the contact person and working with the brand. If your friend is particularly confident you would be a great addition to the brand's influencer network, they may even make an introduction — a gift not to be taken lightly. Use the insights from your network as an opportunity to research this brand relationship a bit more.
Note, however, that your friend is sharing this information with you as a trusted contact; burning bridges by sharing private/confidential information is never a good idea.
Use your existing PR network
Just like bloggy peeps, PR folks are a friendly bunch too. If a brand you want to work with is represented by the same agency as another brand you already do work with, just ask. Working with a number of brands represented by the same agency is a great way to demonstrate your value. Your name will come up in more meetings, and your track record of delivering high quality work will earn you opportunities because of this. This goes a long way to establishing a long term relationship with a PR agency.
Cyber Stalk — a.k.a Do your homework
While you won’t find a Pinterest board called “PR contacts for all the best food brands,” there definitely are some tricks to finding the right PR contact using the magic of the interwebs. Note, quite often you’re going to have to be a bit like Jessica Fletcher and put all the clues together, since you’ll more than likely find multiple names and roles of people who might be the right contact.
- Go to the brand’s website and visit their media room. Is a media contact listed? Who's quoted in articles found on their news page? Do they have a staff directory?
- Visit a news wire service website (like CNW) and search for the brand. Who's the media contact listed on those press releases? Who's quoted? Are they with an agency? Or is it an in-house contact?
- Do a search for all the names you find and check out their LinkedIn profile. What role does it say they have? Are they still working with the brand you’re researching? Are they connected to others, like a brand manager or social media manager?
- Do a search for the brand name plus ‘Public Relations” or “PR” or “agency” or “media” and see what results are generated. Is the brand listed on a PR agency’s website as a client? Who's the contact at the agency?
- Read through media articles that come up in a ‘news’ search for the brand name. Not only will this help you when you go to develop your pitch because of the insights gleaned, but it may also reveal a contact. For instance, marketing, advertising, and PR publications often feature stories of successful outreach activities, like influencer programs. Who's quoted in the articles? Can you find them online and confirm their role?
Reach out via Social Media
A quick DM to the brand’s Twitter account is an easy way to find a contact. A simple note asking if they're able to point you in the right direction of the person in charge of social media outreach is all you need. That is, IF the person/team managing the Twitter account has that information. You may also get a generic email address versus one for a direct contact, which is ideally what you’re after.
While this seems like the easiest way, I recommend doing your homework and using the other options listed first. Why? Because all that homework and/or the insights gained from your network will be invaluable when it comes time to pitch.
Conferences and Events
Conferences, like FBC's and others, are an awesome opportunity to meet and get to know the various people who represent the brands you love. Not only will you get the opportunity to meet and chat face to face, but you have the added bonus of knowing they're there for the same reason you are: to learn and get to know you too!
And so …
Hopefully after all the sleuthing you’ve found the right contact, which means you’re almost ready to pitch — almost — but not just yet. Just like any relationship, you need to work up to the pitch — start with coffee before you drop your pants (metaphorically speaking!). The first email will be to introduce yourself (briefly) and to actually confirm they are in fact the right contact. Keep it short and sweet and offer an opportunity for a follow-up call.
You want to earn the pitch. How do you earn the pitch? Well, that’s next month, where we’ll cover “Five Things to Do Before You Pitch.”
Heather Travis @heathertravis is a PR professional and lover of all things creative. She has extensive experience developing and implementing integrated public relations and marketing programs for agricultural brands, producers and processors, as well as high end sporting goods. She’s a DIY junkie with a mean power tool addiction, and can often be found painting, refinishing, and scouring both junk yards and antique markets for her next fix … err, piece of content for her blog heatherinheels.com. Find Heather on Twitter @heathertravis and Instagram @heathertravis.