Carolyn McMaster | April 2, 2015
We’re in the midst of mobilizing a client’s international partner network to help us get the word out fast about a project with a crucial deadline looming, and it’s been truly energizing. Though we have a short timeframe and a nonprofit startup budget, we also have a bountiful supply of enthusiasm, dedication to the mission and a sharp focus on our goal. I want to share our approach, not only because it’s been fun, but also because it’s a reminder that PR basics are the necessary foundation for a creative approach.
Make a direct ask. We connected with partners directly and told them what we need, asking for a short phone call with each one to work out details. Anything longer would be a burden, and the calls lasted only 5 to 15 minutes—enough for them to tell us what they could do and what they needed from us to accomplish it. Most important, we want to make sure we make them look good too. These calls set the stage, and got everyone excited about contributing.
Create a communications toolkit. We want this to be as easy as possible for our partner organizations. We had a good idea of what our toolkit would contain, and our conversations rounded out the content. It will be plug-and-play: press releases, a blog article, posts for social platforms, photos, quotes and more. We also will provide some customized content for a few partners that need it.
Determine measurement. We want to track partner activity, message amplification and the impact on our goal. The last is most difficult, as there’s no way to automate it. For the first two, we’ll use simple online monitoring and analytics and a custom hashtag.
Let people loose. We’ll give partners the toolkit with basic suggestions for use and a timeline, and then get out of the way. They’ll do as much as they can, and we’ll follow activity and be ready to step in if they need help.
Our “get the basics right” approach has provided benefits beyond our immediate PR goal. It has opened up new possibilities for future promotion (the project continues through fall) and inspired a sense of ownership among partners that’s generating a lot of energy and ideas. It is a true collaboration that’s producing sharp thinking and creative solutions.