Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM President & CEO Rhino PR
“But what can I talk about?”
This is a question we hear often. Fresh content is important for keeping your firm’s name top of mind and for building your brand. Relevant content also draws potential clients to your web site and drives SEO. The goal is to capture a reader’s attention and provide value by educating them about a service or market trend and entertaining them with content that makes an impression.
However, finding consistent topics for your various marketing channels (blogs, social media, press releases, etc.) can be a struggle. Project milestones offer a great opportunity to talk about your firm, and can be used to keep a steady stream of content delivered to your target audience. In fact, with a built-in schedule, project milestones create the content calendar for you! Project milestones may include:
- Project win
- Topping off
- Project completion or grand opening
- LEED certification or other awards
To promote your expertise and advance your thought leadership, convey more than just the project milestone by tailoring the content to your firm’s marketing goals and messaging. Demonstrate the traction your firm has in a particular vertical by issuing a new project win announcement, or validate your trustworthiness by disclosing a repeat client. There are many possibilities that go beyond the project milestone to showcase your firm’s great talent.
When your firm lands a big project, develop a long-term strategic plan around design and construction milestones to achieve the greatest benefit for ongoing PR content. Content creation begins with gathering relevant information such as the RFP and proposal, compiling questions to fill in any missing data, and interviewing the project team to acquire noteworthy material, anticipated challenges, and key messaging. Acquire as many details as possible by consulting various sources. As the project progresses, continue to research and add current information to keep the flow of content varied, interesting, and relevant. Take advantage of slower periods of the project to prepare the next wave of content for upcoming milestones.
Tools of the Trade
Strategic content creation involves gathering information and developing it into content that can be repurposed into multiple marketing tools. Successful PR programs support your firm’s strategic business goals, with some or all of the following communication tools:
- Press (or News) Releases: These short documents communicate information about a newsworthy event or development and are distributed via email or a delivery service to publications that would be interested in the topic.
- Media Relations: This is the process of building relationships with relevant reporters and editors, and often includes pitching ideas to present a company as a thought leader.
- Byline Articles: The goal of these articles is to present the firm or the author as an expert on a specific topic, and to share useful information and best practices with readers.
- Speaking Opportunities: When people attend trade shows and conferences, they often look forward to learning opportunities such as speaker sessions, roundtable events, and workshops. A company can propose a relevant topic for one of these sessions, and send an experienced employee to present.
- Industry Awards: Awards may recognize a company for excellence in a completed project or collaborative team success, or may recognize an individual for a specific achievement.
Your firm won’t complete the project on its own, and it doesn’t have to approach PR on its own either. Other project team members want to receive recognition for their role as well.
While a project win will typically be an individual release, and a topping off might be most notable for the construction company, a team approach that includes the key project team members (architect, engineer, construction manager), as well as sub-contractors or consultants, is effective for many project milestones. So, share the love: work together with the key players on the project to create a mutually beneficial media strategy. Draft a joint press release and divvy up the editorial opportunities. The collective effort will broaden your media outreach and increase your chances of PR success.
Long-term strategic planning is about constantly evolving your content to deliver new material and packaging it to be distributed in a timely way to your target audience. As the project develops, so does the content – and the delivery mechanisms will vary as well. Build material around project achievements to maintain a steady flow of content and keep your firm visible. Don’t let this source of ongoing material be forgotten.