The Life Cycle of a (Good) PR Program

Just the other day, I spent some time with a friend, her new baby, and her toddler. Big sister is in a “wight now” phase. Every sentence ended with a casual “wight now.” 

“I want to hold baby brother… wight now.” 

“Mommy, can baby brother play Barbies… wight now.” 

Not later. Not tomorrow. NOW. (Pretty sure she will NOT be pleased once she realizes that baby brother can’t play Barbies for a few more years — and that he may or may not be terribly interested in participating once he’s developed the necessary fine motor skills. But I digress.)

My friend’s kiddo is not alone. In a world of instant gratification, we want things now. And while it may be a tough pill to swallow, we’re here to tell you the cold hard truth: PR is typically a long game. 

Trust us, we’d love it if there was a secret code to crack. A way to build an equation that says “if we do X, in <insert timeframe>, we’ll achieve Y.” But Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is a PR powerhouse.

The Stages of Success

Now that you know there’s no way to “hack it,” we wanted to help shed light on what you can actually expect from a well-executed PR program. We’ve broken it down from infancy to maturity, and we’ve seen programs achieve all stages in less than a year’s time. It’s all about consistency and adaptability as needs evolve throughout each stage.

Stage 1: Infancy. No matter how long a brand or business has been around, if it’s never engaged in PR efforts, it’s starting in the infancy stage. In most cases, you can expect to focus your efforts on earning attention locally — yes, even if you have dreams of national coverage. (We actually believe in this so deeply that we wrote a separate blog about it. Check out “Earned Media: 3 Reasons You Should Win Your Home Market First”.)

Stage 2: Awareness. Once a client arrives in the “awareness” stage, they often tell us: “Everyone we talk to is saying, ‘You guys are everywhere!’” (Yes, this makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.) While this stage isn’t always quantifiable (looking at you, data nerds — no, I can’t tell you the exact ROI of someone knowing you exist), it’s got incredible value. Because right now, you’re top of mind. 

We are all competing against so much noise — against people’s cluttered inboxes, against other news stories, against messaging from competitors, the list goes on. But when you’re consistently working toward a specific goal, you’re making sure your business is more than just a blip on the radar.

Stage 3: Trusted resource. While most media coverage earned in the first two stages is secured from outbound requests, establishing yourself as a trusted resource often leads media members, event organizers, and industry peers to begin requesting your expertise. The crucial component to achieving “trusted resource” status is serving as an asset to media members and other inbound information requests. (Don’t know how to earn their favor? Your PR team can help — and our blog “What Do Reporters Hate? Don’t Commit These 5 PR Sins” will show you how to avoid getting blacklisted!)

Stage 4: Maturity. We think of a mature PR program like a locomotive. It might have taken a little time to get moving, but once it’s up to speed, it’s hard to stop. When your business has reached maturity in a PR program, you’ll have the opportunity to spin stories up to larger outlets, speak on larger stages, and find other creative ways to continue building momentum.

If you’re interested in finding out how a PR program could take your business to the next level, send us a message