Let’s start with a more basic question, should you launch a public relations campaign?

Yes!

That was easy.

But, seriously, we live in a 24/7 media world where either we define our image and our brand, or it is defined for us by default.

Yes, you can advertise and post on social media.  That can all be very effective, but there is one downside to those approaches, everyone knows that the message is coming from you.  It’s very difficult to gain true credibility if you are the one who is saying how great you, your service or your products are.

Appearing as a news story five you that third party validation.  For good or bad, people tend to trust what they read, see, or hear in the news.  People realize that there is a vetting process when it comes to the news and that process is what makes people trust it.

Plus no one buys a magazine or watches a TV program to see the ads or commercials.  They know those spots are bought and paid for.  And on social media, although people might find posts or photos amusing or interesting, that is not the same as finding them credible.   

More than ever, consumers have their defenses up when watching or listening to the media.  An effective media relations campaign allows you to slip past those defenses by being featured in media outlets that they already trust.  Whether you’re featured in a local media newspaper, the New York Times or the Today Show, you are benefitting by the trust those media brands instill in consumers. 

Audiences are much more media savvy and resistant to traditional forms of marketing and promotion.  Advertising is paid media and public relations is earned media and when it comes to establishing yourself as trustworthy, earned media wins the day.

So, let’s get back to our initial question, when should you launch your PR campaign?

It all depends on your business, your goals and objectives and how prepared you and your company are.  For example, if your product is a year away from being available, you don’t want to start contacting the media now, but you do want to start creating your stories, media lists, etc.  Generally, if you have your product, service or company ready to go, you want to give yourself plenty of time to start generating media interest, particularly if you not known in your field or are launching a new product or service. 

Keep in mind the various media timelines.  You need to pitch monthly publications generally four to five months in advance of your target date.  For example if you’re presenting a holiday-oriented story idea.  Don’t wait until November or December to make your pitch, start in August.  The timelines for newspapers, TV and online publications are different, so make sure you do your homework and target each one appropriately. 

As with most things in life, launching earlier is better than later.

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