Public relations follows the same two strategies of pushing and pulling. The terms refer to how your message is disseminated to the public. Push PR describes the traditional methods—press releases, media alerts, event invitations, press kits, and pitching story ideas. The downside is that you are completely at the mercy of another party—will the local TV station’s cameraman show up, will the news editor decide to run your story, will your invitation get into the right person’s hands?
Pull PR is a little more proactive. It involves publishing your message on your own, whether through social media, an online newsroom, blogs, keyword searches, or search engine visibility. Basically, everyone and everything becomes media. Let’s say someone does a web search for “Push and Pull PR.” This story appears in their search results, and after reading the article they click over to another page on the GodwinGroup website. This is a prime example of pull PR.
If you decide to add pull PR to your marketing mix, there are a few points to consider. First, you must decide what type of content you are going to provide. The most successful pull PR campaigns aren’t just self-serving. They also include industry news or other information that your client base finds valuable. This tactic isn’t just limited to blog posts—but also includes white papers, electronic newsletters, podcasts, and videos.
Customer engagement is another important factor. Many companies have shied away from allowing comments on their Facebook walls for fear that it will open the floodgates for customer complaints. Other companies have embraced it. If you decide to take the plunge, be prepared for some negative comments. A bad experience can be very emotional, and social media outlets are an easily accessible way to vent frustrations. Have a plan in place that specifically outlines how to handle these situations. You may discover that some tried and true human-to-human interaction will go a long way to diffuse the situation in addition to providing insight on ways to improve customer service and build brand loyalty.
Before you adopt your PR strategy, understand there are situations where one or the other will work more effectively. Push PR is more efficient for targeting your campaign to a specific audience. Pull PR works to disseminate your message to a larger audience and is vital to the success of a website or blog. In some cases, the line between push and pull is blurred. You can actually pull people in by pushing information out. A press release pushed out by an online news service can be found by consumers through a Google search. You may not have been targeting the person conducting the Google search, but your article pulled them in regardless. An effective PR campaign will take advantage of both ends of the spectrum.