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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Fortney

Is Your Business Really Ready for PR? This Checklist Will Save You Time & Money

When clients want PR they want it now, but they're not always ready for it. Our checklist helps you evaluate if this is the right time to execute a PR campaign for your business.

We understand that when clients want PR they want it to literally be generated overnight for their product or service. The reality is that this is not reasonable.

Sure, you can hire someone who will do it. The problem is that lack of onboarding and understanding of the brand’s positioning and messaging can cause a lot of errors to occur with media, which reflects poorly on your company.

First of all, anything done well requires thoughtful planning.

Secondly, it can take time to research and find the nuggets that will make your story compelling and interesting to media. We don’t just pick up the phone and start pitching media without a Story Plan. And you shouldn’t invest in a company that doesn’t believe in creating a plan – a plan that meets your goals, surprises and delights.

Crisis communications strategy

Before you begin your search for a PR firm, use this checklist to see if you’re really ready for PR.

1. Is your product or service really ready to go to market? Is it really?

a. Market research: Doing your homework never ends when you’re an entrepreneur. We’re always learning about our audience – their wants, desires, needs, etc. Spending some time evaluating whether your concept is even worth turning into an MVP can save you time, money and heartache.

Most importantly, solid market research upfront will help develop the story of your company. A story that can drive your business, culture, PR, fundraising, future product development, and so much more. A story that media and customers can buy into.

b. More than an MVP: Media are hesitant to do stories on products that are not readily available to consumers. MVPs are great for market testing and to prove your concept, but media aren’t buying it. If you’re looking to drive presales to fund your manufacturing, you need a back up plan. We’re not saying it doesn’t happen, but it’s only for well-known brands and celebrity-backed brands who have a big audience and the bucks to tease, excite, create appointment buying and sell out in the first day.

c. Beta testing complete: Making sure that the product works, and all of the kinks are worked out will save you a lot of money down the road. A solid group of trustworthy beta testers who want to ensure your success is worth curating today and for the future of your company. A bonus, they can provide valuable testimonials that will influence other buyers.

2. Clear messaging and positioning development? Define your “why”.

a. It’s one thing to see a gap in the market that offers a unique opportunity to fill. It’s quite another to flip it around into a powerful story that will make your audience want to buy, and not just buy what you’re selling, but buy into the company’s mission and vision.

b. Solid messaging helps you and your team understand who you are and why you’re doing what you do. It also helps flush out the points where you stand out against competition.

c. Well throughout brand story messaging becomes the lede in your compelling news story that will interest media.

d. For us, your messaging document is a road map and a document that we’ll refer to frequently to ensure that we can accurately speak to media on your behalf.

3. When will it be available to customers?

a. Can you meet consumer demand? Companies think they want stories on their business – product or service – in as many outlets as possible, but if Cascade does that for you, can you meet the demand it creates? There is no room for error in the world of online reviews. This can make or break you quickly.

b. Manufacturing and delivery: Before embarking on a PR campaign, it is crucial that you inform and coordinate your team, vendors and supply chain to seamlessly meet the demand PR can create. See a).

c. Set a realistic launch date. We’ve never quite understood the “go-to-market as fast as you can and worry about mistakes later philosophy. Everyone running around without any direction and in a panic. In PR, we’ve learned to see and avoid potential future disasters. Instead, we see companies set launch dates and plan around them even when it seems, months in advance, unlikely to happen, meanwhile creating a reactive culture instead of a proactive one.

We understand the desire to start selling the minute product hits fulfillment, but what is an extra week or so padding to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch? Again, see a).

4. Basic launch strategy

a. Every successful company understands that they need a launch strategy, one that can be used and customized for future products. This roadmap is not just a one off. Business launch campaigns can last for more than a year. Your first one may be more of a working document, however, once you cement a solid plan that works, it can be replicated.

b. Planning is critical to your storytelling success. The challenge most entrepreneurs and business don’t like is planning. Planning can take time and collaboration, but it is SO worth it!

c. A good launch strategy leads an entire team in the same direction and ensures a smooth launch with all parts working smoothly to produce results.

d. Be nimble and open to advice from your agency to improve your approach

5. Budget

a. PR is an investment, and the best don’t work for minimum wage, but, like Cascade, there are some experienced boutique agencies that don’t charge big agency fees because we have more know-how under our belts to make us much more efficient and productive.

b. Be realistic. You get what you pay for. Prepare to invest here because the credibility and awareness you get in return is far beyond worth it.

c. Give your PR agency your budget range. When we put together proposals for clients, they are customized to solving their problem, communicating to the right audience and creating a strategy that fits their budget.

6. Are you really serious?

a. Be considerate. Many agencies, like Cascade, put a lot of time and energy into our proposals ensuring they are customized to each company and their story communication goals. When companies ghost us, it’s insulting, a waste of our time and we lose hours of fees. This is why do not develop proposals for everyone anymore.

b. If you’re serious, you will have addressed everything above and have the deep understanding of your business, market and industry you need to be successful, and for us to be successful.

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