If you are from Cincinnati, there is a pretty good chance you have heard of the Flying Pig Marathon. Typically held in May, the Queen City staple has moved to October for 2021, but it is typically around this time of year that runners from all over the Tri-State can be spotted around the city in flocks, preparing for the big race. The most successful of these runners often heed the advice of Amby Burfoot, an American marathoner turned journalist who once stated that “life is a marathon, not a sprint; pace yourself accordingly.”
Much like marathoners, public relations professionals need to “think past the sprint” when planning campaigns for their brand. While short stunt campaigns can cause a temporary “wow” factor, it’s often the sustained PR plans spanning months (or even years) that yield the most long-term success.
Here are a few of the most important things to consider when planning a long-term PR campaign:
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
Planning for a one-time event versus a multi-month PR campaign is akin to the difference between training for a 5K (3.1 miles) and a marathon (26.2 miles). With very little training, most novice runners can jump right into a 5K and finish the race. A marathon, however, takes more extensive preparation – usually months.
Marathon training has many different parts. First, you must develop your base by logging several runs a week. You also must add in tempo runs and speed work to train your body to run at a race pace. Logging some long runs is also important to get your body used to the fatigue.
Similarly, a successful long-term PR campaign will employ a variety of tactics to keep interest in the campaign sustained over a period of months or years. From press releases and speaking engagements to influencer marketing and social media, there are plenty of ways that creative public relations professionals can keep the buzz going.
Additionally, highlighting different aspects of your campaign over a long period will prove to be far more effective in generating results than from a one-off news release or short-term advertising campaign. Running a PR campaign over several months allows a company to focus on different parts of its business and target relevant industry sectors or audiences with different tactics. Taken together, these little wins will contribute to the overall success of the campaign at the finish line.
2. Stay “Front of the Pack” with Audiences and the Media
Investing in a several-month campaign can be daunting, but the reward is worth it. Staying top of mind for both media outlets and potential customers is vital to the prolonged success of your organization. Especially in an era of skepticism and overexposure, it’s hard to build rapport with potential consumers; a sustained campaign can help your message rise to the top.
This is largely due to the mere-exposure effect, which states that when people are exposed to something repeatedly, they will develop a preference for it over time. In other words, the more familiar people are with something, the more they tend to like it. Campaigns help to familiarize consumers with your brand’s message. Through the art of repeated exposures, consumers will be more likely to have positive feelings toward your business or organization.
Long-term PR campaigns also create more of a connection with potential media contacts. Inevitably, the more information you distribute during your campaign, the more top-of-mind your organization will be for the media. Long-term PR campaigns are a great way to become a thought leader in your space, and while your target journalist may not have responded to your initial pitch, they may keep your information handy for upcoming stories. Also, unlike shorter campaigns, sustained PR campaigns allow you to reach out to applicable journalists with different angles, increasing your chances of coverage.
3. Keep a “Runner’s High” in the Search Rankings
Organic search is arguably the most valuable marketing channel there is. According to Martech Today, the average B2B buyer’s journey involves consuming 13 pieces of content. This is an average of eight vendor-created pieces and five from third parties, like news articles or consumer reviews. Additionally, on the B2C side, research suggests that 39% of users have been influenced to purchase an item or support a cause by a relevant Google search.
Having a steady flow of content throughout your PR campaign will often push your organization higher in the search rankings, making your brand a leader in the pack. This, in turn, helps to give your future efforts even more momentum, helping you place even more distance from your competitors and making your organization stand out.
Ultimately, while long-term PR campaigns can seem intimidating, adding even just a few months onto the length of your campaign can contribute significantly to its overall success. Take the time to carefully plan a solid campaign and think through what you want the plan to achieve, and there’s a good chance you’ll reach the PR success that you’re striving toward.