When I first started off in Public Relations (PR), one of the common myths that got busted is that PR is not a press release. Many people still believe that PR is drafting and releasing press notes to the media. That is not true. Press releases are majorly for facilitating strategic communications — sharing important announcements to the media. Releasing timely press notes to the media keeps the brand constantly on the media radar. All that is good!
However, PR is more of a continuous process. It is one of the link building strategies that can elevate the image and reputation of the brand among its customers. In simpler terms, PR activities can put a brand on the customers’ radar.
Content can take many forms. If the brand is capable of producing content, why do they want to limit the content to just one form? A brand might explore guest blogs — long form, short form, ebooks, video content, case studies, repurposed content, etc. In this case, we are talking about taking the content to a different dimension — near the user’s vicinity. It can help create awareness of your brand and its products among the users.
Now coming to Software as a Service (SaaS), effective PR strategies can boost your brand’s credibility and promote your brand as thought leaders in your niche. Like every other industry, SaaS also needs to establish a connection with its audience to establish a brand reputation.
Now that you understand why you need PR, let’s talk about different PR strategies and how to effectively implement them.
There are different approaches you might want to explore in PR, according to the goal you are trying to achieve for our brand. For that, we need to first identify your campaign goal. To do that, let’s take your brand and think about what you are planning to achieve immediately.
Be it lead generation, publicity, showcasing your expertise, elevating the brand as a leader in its niche, and even attracting users to the brand — finding what your goal is is the first and foremost step in PR. And strategies that we employ from here depend upon what we intend to achieve.
While exploring PR, SaaS companies have a lot of advantages over others in terms of content. SaaS companies have access to a lot of information, be it industry expertise, user insights, or statistics. Journalists thrive on first-hand information and you can be the source of the information. You can be the subject matter expert in your niche.
Subsequently, your credibility will improve in your domain. Another strategy is newsjacking. Newsjacking is finding trending news and building a thought leadership piece around it. Your subject matter expert can share their thoughts around the news. And, journalists would want to work on such topics.
Storytelling is an easy way to get into a people’s mind. Only you can tell your story better. Think about how to build a story that is relevant to your audience and also inspire them. The more real the story is, the better.
The story should cover all the aspects of the business along with their values and vision. While building a brand story, you can create different narratives according to the platforms you pitch to. It’s alright to have 2-3 different versions of your story. In one of the stories, your product can be the hero whereas, in another story, its creator may take the role of the hero.
Apart from stories, PR coverages can also be in the form of brand mentions, Op-eds, thought leadership articles, etc. The type of PR coverage can vary depending upon the platforms.
One of the tactics that can be applied here is ‘repeat what works’. If a story angle is getting more popularity than the rest, then you might have to pick that up and promote it. In addition to the story, you can even draft a media kit with major highlights of the brand. While you pitch editors, these will serve as add-ons.
Pro tip: Besides the backstory, SaaS PR can revolve around their products, the value they are offering to their customers, the problems that they are solving for their customers.
Start searching for relevant news/media houses that cover stories from your niche. Google should be your first go-to source for this. Followed by social media and other third-party tools. Another source is your competitors.
Stalk them. Yes, you heard it right.
Identify the platforms that cover their stories, chances are that they might as well cover your story. Since we are dealing with media houses here, there won’t be any conflict of interest. There are various tools like (Help a Reporter Out) HARO, Anewstip, etc where you can respond to journalist queries. A typical journalist request will look like this —
Alternatively, you can search for journalists’ queries by following hashtags — journorequests, prrequests, on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Also, connecting and responding on social media has its own benefits. It is more personal and the response rate is faster compared to other sources.
Responding to journalists’ requests on social media or third parties is comparatively simple if you have the sufficient information they are looking for. If they are interested, they will reach out to you and you will earn a feature in their publication.
Quick takeaways while responding to such queries—
Maintaining an outreach database is another crucial aspect of link building strategy, thus, you won’t lose track of the activities. Third-party tools like FinalScout, BuzzSumo can be used to retrieve the email details of the contributors and editors. You need to keep the database up to date so that follow-ups can be smooth. And will be extremely helpful for relationship building exercises with them.
Publishing your story on the platform is the most challenging aspect of everything. Most platforms work on a rolling basis and they consider each feature as and when they come. That being said, publishing can take up to days, or even months. Everything will go very smoothly until that point. Once the article has been shared with the editor or submitted to the platform, this can look like it might take forever to get published.
The only solution to this problem is to keep building your database and expanding your PR pipeline.
Say, if you are targeting 2 features for a month, you might have to submit at least 10-20 guaranteed features for that month. Working with editors can be challenging too — they might receive a number of pitches and stories each day and getting their attention is a major task. Once you have established some contacts in the industry and with some media, the process can get comparatively easy going forward.
Your SaaS PR strategy like any other campaign should be realistic and measurable. Only then, you know whether your PR exercise is effective or not. Each campaign is associated with a number of metrics like Referral, Visitors, Mentions, Social Shares, Backlinks, etc.
There are many ways to track and manage these metrics. One of the easiest ways is to use Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters to track traffic sources. Each campaign will have a set of Key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge overall performance.
Similarly, KPIs can be the quality of coverage, active coverages, geographical presence, overall media presence, earned coverages, etc. There are a number of third-party tools available like BuzzSumo, Muck Rack, etc that can track and share coverage reports.
Along with PR outreach and coverage, consistently nurturing the relationships with influencers and contributors of media results in more coverage opportunities in the future. A few paid media placements on popular platforms wouldn’t do any harm but can further step up your PR game.
To conclude, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to PR — you may have to do some basic groundwork before getting your hands dirty. You have to keep a check on what others in your industry are exploring, and most importantly, focus on the goals you want to achieve for streamlining your PR activities.