PR & thought leadership

Are you ready for PR? Here’s a six-point checklist

Carolyn McMaster | May 6, 2015

As you might guess (given our business), “We want PR!” is something we hear regularly. But some organizations that would benefit from PR aren’t really ready for it, because they’re unprepared or they’re unable to commit to what’s usually a long-term strategy.

How can you tell if you’re ready for PR? Here’s a six-point checklist, based on our process for determining what clients that want PR and thought leadership need to do to before media relations begin.

1. We have a good story (and stories) to tell.
Your focus on the triple bottom line is not a story to most journalists, unless you’re part of a significant trend or leading the way. To get press, you need something unique—an approach, business model, product, position or product, and you need to be able to support your claims. If you want to be positioned as a thought leader, you need actual thoughts (about trends, innovations, markets, and so on), and the ability to generate them regularly over time.

2. We are open to critical examination.
Almost every organization has challenges. If you’re putting yourself in front of journalists, they may dig for yours. You need to be ready to talk about problems honestly—without looking bad or sounding defensive. If you don’t want to do this, now is not the time to seek attention.

No skeletons? No worries there—but you still need to be ready to respond to tough questions.

3. We have our messaging down.
You not only have a story, you know how to tell it. You have an up-to-date messaging platform that succinctly describes your organization, vision, what you do, who you do it for, and your value and values. You also have messages for the initiatives or products you’re promoting.

4. We have a spokesperson.
You have an executive (or two) who can tell your stories with confidence. They have a deep well of expertise and information, will make themselves available at a moment’s notice and are comfortable talking to reporters. They should be open to media training (even the best talkers need it). You’ll also want them to write articles or collaborate with others on contributed articles.

5. We have concrete, realistic goals.
Get crystal-clear on what you want PR to accomplish and how it will further the business. Is it brand awareness for building a market? Impressing investors with your know-how and market savvy? Spreading the word about a new model of sustainable business? You’ll tailor the work to those goals and determine metrics (both qualitative and quantitative) that will measure progress.

6. We are in it for the long haul.
Be ready to commit to a sustained effort. You need consistent exposure in the right places to see lasting results from PR, and building a reputation as a thought leader requires more than one or two articles.

If you can check all these boxes, you’re good to go—and you’re much more likely to get the results you want from a PR program.


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