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How to Set Realistic Goals for Press Releases

Most startup PR campaigns don’t fulfill their goals, and most companies who start PR campaigns end up disappointed. The reason most press releases don’t give good and tangible results is because of unrealistic expectations, lack of communication between the client and the company managing the PR campaign, and misconceptions between the two parties.

Why do most PR campaigns fail?

Let's be blunt about this. The vast majority of PR campaigns fall short of the mark. Most startup PR campaigns end in disappointment. There is a simple enough explanation for this, however. More often than not, failure is a result of one of two factors (or both):

  1. Lack of planning
  2. Setting unrealistic expectations and goals.

Of course, other issues can come into play too. PR goals are often missed due to a lack of communication between the company managing the PR campaign and the client, but really this stems down to the two key issues mentioned above anyway.

The PR campaign manager (whether it's an individual or an agency) and the client need to be on same page from the beginning. You are only going to hit on the right angle for a story and achieve suitable coverage if there is a good relationship and a shared understanding between the two parties.

How do you identify the goals for a PR campaign?

Defining and setting the right goals for your campaign is crucial. And the good thing is that there are no rules - other than the fact that without realistic expectations, it's very unlikely that it will achieve all you want it to.

So, how do you ensure that your expectations are realistic?

As we said, there are no hard and fast rules, but there are a couple of useful frameworks out there that are well worth using as press release guidelines. SMART targets are nothing new. This framework is tried and tested within the marketing world. As well as this, it's trusted too. It doesn't matter whether the planning is business, marketing or a campaign. The SMART framework works with them all. It's hard to think of a better planning tool.

Another idea that might be worth checking out is a RACE model. This is a practical framework just like SMART, but while SMART can be used in any life sphere where goals are set, the RACE model has been created specifically for digital marketing goal making.

Each of its four stages: Reach, Act, Convert and Engage all have some suggested 'key measures'. It's worth reinforcing that a PR or marketing campaign is nothing without its measurement. Of course, various metrics can be used: sales, engagement, traffic, social media likes.

To sum up what makes a good campaign in three words: it has to have Purpose, Detail and be Professional. Using either the SMART or RACE models (or preferably both) will help you shape a campaign and keep it tight, focused and realistic. It's this methodical approach to planning that keeps a campaign on track and on point and gives it a real sense of purpose. By making sure all aspects of the tools are covered, you will ensure that every detail is covered. You'll be looking at things from different perspectives - not just your own. You need to look at your product/service from a buyer's perspective and through their eyes. That's how you make a campaign truly professional.

Realistic and Unrealistic Goals for Press Release Campaigns

By following these press release guidelines and the advice above you will have a campaign that has a real sense of shape and a real press release purpose. It will be agile and strategic and poised for success. But it's still worth looking at what makes goals realistic or unrealistic because ultimately these will determine whether a campaign succeeds or fails.

Unrealistic Goal: Targeting A Very Diverse Market

For example, “To be published in US, Japan, Germany, and Spain” is unrealistic because it does not take into account the dynamics of each individual market. And there is little or no chance a press release will be able to generate interest or work at a very large scale.

Realistic Goal: Targeting A Limited Audience You Have Information About

Quality over quantity. There are more chances of improving your traffic if you target a limited market.

Unrealistic Goal: Expecting The Sales Of Your Product To Boost In All Markets

You cannot expect your product to generate an interest in any market through PRs, regardless of the market you are targeting. Press releases will only help attract people of a certain age, or of a certain profession that fits best with your product, and even then they do not translate into direct sales. They work wonders for brand awareness and lead generation though.

Realistic Goal: To Promote Product X Among Customers In Market Y

PRs can be very specific, and to build a good PR campaign you need to be specific about your requirements too.

Unrealistic Goal: Wanting Your Brand To Become Popular Over A Very Short Period Of Time

Even if you have thought about the audience and your market limitations, you still need to consider that it will take time for your business to reach certain popularity levels, or for your sales to increase by a certain percentage.

Realistic Goal: To Increase The Popularity Of A Certain Product In Market X From Time A To Time B

Press Releases aren’t repeated, and so they wear off from people’s memory. Unless you set certain time frames for when you need to increase customer interest before you order a press release, you won’t get what you want.

Unrealistic Goal: Expecting The PR Company To Do Its Research Properly And Promote Your Brand

If you want something to be particularly added in the press release, you should tell the company running your PR campaign about it. You know your business best and it’s not realistic to imagine someone else recognize and list all of your key features.

Realistic Goal: Expecting the PR to be based on the information you provided the PR company with

The PR company will assume you only want to talk about the information you have given them – and this can affect the quality and the content of your PR campaign. Just remember – if you want something to be included in particular; ask for it.

Unrealistic Goal: Wanting To Use the PR for a Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding is a very complicated process. And press releases aren’t the best tool for it. This is best done on Social media websites, not PR websites.

Realistic Goal: To Improve The Company’s Reputation In The Market (Both Online And Offline)

A PR is always positive – and this improves the company’s image and stands in the market.

Unrealistic Goal: To Increase The Traffic On Your Website By A Very Large Percentage, For Example, An Increase Of More Than 100%

While a published PR will increase your web traffic, it is unlikely (more like, impossible) that press releases will increase your traffic by more than double your current number, after a single order. However, back to back advertisement campaigns, provided they’re well thought of, can increase web traffic considerably.

Realistic Goal: To Increase The Number Of Clicks On The Links To Their Company’s Blog Or Website

It can totally be done with suitable methods of PR distribution.

Unrealistic Goal: Increase the Popularity Of A Website On Social Media Pages

A press release can lead its readers to your website or social media page, but it may not help you get more followers on social media.

Realistic Goal: To Get 500 - 900 Direct Or Indirect Mentions On Twitter

This won’t make you ‘viral’ but for a time, it will get your business some good attention because of the interest created by a press release.

Unrealistic Goal: To Generate Interest of A Product X Among People Of All Ages, Cultures And Nationalities

This is just asking too much.

Realistic Goal: To Increase The Sales Of A Product In The Market

When a PR informs potential customers about a product, the sales of the said product are likely to increase. The customers will always belong to a certain category since no product can satisfy everyone’s needs. And no PR will be able to promote such an idea.

Wanting Your Press Release to Include Detailed Information About The Product

Press releases can be detailed, but they aren’t articles or blogs. Only the main features can be included in PRs.

Unrealistic Goal: To Increase Your Customer Base in A Week

Getting customers takes a very long time and no PR can immediately increase your customers, or your sales.

Realistic Goal: To Improve Traffic Conversion And Translating That Traffic To 10–15 % More Sales

This is a good example of a realistic target.

Unrealistic Goal: Wanting Your Promotion to Last for A Long Time

Customers have a very weak memory. You can’t expect a single batch of press releases to give you many loyal customers in a very short time period.

Realistic Goal: To Highlight The Company’s Products On The Media So It Becomes More Prominent Than Its Competitors

Digital, social, or print media. The main purpose of a PR is to create a stir about something in the media. And a business needs all the attention it can get.

Unrealistic Goals: Expecting To Accomplish All Of The Above With A Single Press Release Order

You probably know now why this just isn’t possible.

For a successful PR campaign, you need to know if the results you hope to achieve are achievable. Other examples of realistic goals are:

  • To Increase The Ranking Of The Company’s Website On Search Engines. PRs use SEO and they can improve search engine rankings of a company.
  • To Increase The Visitors On Facebook, Twitter Or Google+. Visitors = yes. Followers = Not Sure. Know the difference.
  • To Increase Customer Feedback On Social Media Or The Company’s Website Or Blog. When a product is being talked about in the PR, it is likely it will be talked about on the internet, too.

We could go on with many more unrealistic and unrealistic PR goals, but you'll have got the idea by now.

You may have realised with the RACE model, that essentially, it's very similar to the old (but still totally valid) marketing idea of a sales funnel. You'll also probably aware of the old marketing adage that you need 7 points of contact before you make a sale.

You also might have noticed that there's a common theme running through all of the examples of realistic goals above - they all about increasing awareness, spreading the word, creating a buzz, building interest, etc.

Well, in today's world, consumers are bombarded by so many marketing messages every single day, that to get a sale or to convert a lead takes more than 7. But a press release campaign (as part of a wider strategy) can be a highly effective point of contact - as long as you keep it real!

Be realistic. Don't expect too much. Go for the small gains and be content with these because they can convert into massive growth over time.

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