PR’s Top Pros Talk… Making PR Magical
Nicole Rodrigues, CEO and Founder, NRPR Group
A strong digital footprint has become a key factor for a successful launch. Nicole Rodrigues, CEO and Founder of NRPR Group, highlights the importance of getting PR right by being patient. She also shares how in-house communicators can gain the trust of an agency by giving strategic advice..
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About the Host:
HOST: DOUG SIMON
GUEST: NICOLE RODRIGUES
DOUG: Nicole, you talk about PR being magical when it works right. What do you mean by that?
NICOLE: I mean that the results that a company can experience when a PR, I don’t want to just say campaign because it’s not always a campaign, but like an effort, something done well and intentionally, is sort of ignited, the results of that can absolutely be magical for a business. Perfect example of that, brand new start-up, maybe about a year plus old, finally getting ready to share with the world a little bit of what they’re doing, so one of our clients. We worked first on crafting what that first announcement would be, their very first foray out into the world to let people know what they’re doing and what the results are. Now, mind you, they are a bionic clothing company that helps people with movement disabilities, right? They’ve been in the lab with people in doing this study for the last year, and I thought, well, let’s share some of the data so that people understand what it is you guys are doing. And over the last year, they obviously had a website, started a little bit of their social media, just to start laying the groundwork, and maybe they would go to a conference and one or two people would call them in a week, in terms of inbound interest, right? So, over the course of like two months where we planned out the messaging, planned the timing, planned exactly what we were going to share, and exactly who we were going to share that with, we shared their very first announcement, did it the right way, patiently. A lot of companies like to rush out announcements, and it drives me crazy because then they get upset when the results aren’t great. They got 200 inbound emails within the first week and they were like, we’ve never gotten 200 inbound inquiries, period, and now they have this great list of people that they have for their newsletter who are interested, and this is now as they are gearing up for FDA approval, they’ve got a baseline of interested people who are now discovering who they are because we did the PR right.
DOUG: What are some of the steps in your planning, if you want to call it a pre-launch when it’s in the healthcare space that needs FDA approval? What are some of the first things you think about during that pre-launch period?
NICOLE: Your digital footprint is number one because this is what people are going to judge when they read the story, and click through, and see who you are. So, by digital footprint nowadays, I mean your website, your social media channels, so whichever ones you deem is most important for your audience. LinkedIn should definitely be in there, and so should Twitter. LinkedIn for B2B and even just credibility standpoint, Twitter because that’s the platform that most media are on, and if you’re a consumer product, do not not be on Instagram. That’s a word of advice if you have a product that you’re trying to sell, people want to see it. So, looking at that, does it look cohesive? Do you have messaging that is also, how do I say, it’s similar across the board, but speaks to the different audiences in each of those channels, right? So, it’s channel appropriate. That’s first, if you don’t have that in order and we go out and we do PR, think about your funnel, think about the sales and business funnel, it’s nonexistent. So, then all of a sudden, we go and we’re pitching a lot of media once they get pitched, want to go to these channels and check for themselves. So, if you do that first, you work on messaging. Who are you? What’s your vision? What’s your mission? What makes you different? What’s your value proposition? What do you do that no one else is doing? Why is this important? Really locking that in not only for all of those channels, but because eventually an executive is going to be asked to be interviewed. That executive should be well-versed in how to speak about the company, or you could blow a really great interview opportunity. And then it’s timing, you think about the strategic timing, what timing makes sense. When will the media be receptive to this? Is there something trending that you can attach this to? So, once you choose that great timing and you’re not doing it haphazardly, that is when PR can actually be most effective.
DOUG: Yeah, one of the things with healthcare, people in PR often talk about the restrictions, obviously, it’s a somewhat restricted environment. How does that work during the pre-match phase? And I’m not saying work around but work within what some see as really challenging constraints and others say, well, geez, if you’re just being upfront and honest, it’s ok to do what you’re doing.
NICOLE: It’s totally ok because a lot of the times you need to lay the groundwork with education well before you start peddling your product, right? Helping people understand the problems, the why. So, for the example that I used, people have cerebral palsy, people have spinal conditions, spinal injuries, they have MS. If a CEO is out there talking about these ailments and what can be done to help make mobility easier, make their lives easier, that’s just laying the groundwork. You don’t even have to mention your product to inform people and show people you with your sort of level of knowledge. So, that’s really great groundwork that we’re actually laying for them right now for that client. And we do that with a lot of healthcare clients or again, anyone going out with the consumer product that’s not ready for the market. It’s greasing the wheels a little bit months ahead of when you actually want to launch.
DOUG: Right, and it’s making sure they’re a voice in the conversation. You talk also about stereotypes of PR that have to be navigated around. How do you go about doing that? And then we’ll follow up next to talk about gaining respect from the in-house PR team, but first navigating around some of the stereotypes of PR and what audiences do you do that with?
NICOLE: Yeah, that’s a really great question. So, I would say that’s twofold, right? Even within the PR industry, there are stereotypes that people have about who we are and what we’re supposed to do. I’m part of a lot of online PR groups. People are like, oh yeah, this happens, but like, as I keep reminding myself, PR is not the ER, which means they are out there outwardly saying that what they do is not that important. That’s bad PR for you and when I think about that, I think about the companies that I help. I think about the crisis comms, it is the ER a lot of the time. If we have the power to save jobs, if we have the power to help save a good company from a bad situation through really strong and strategic messaging, you’re saving jobs, you’re saving lives, you’re saving their medical insurance, you’re saving them from having to go to the ER. So yeah, I think what we do is very important.
DOUG: What would you say to in-house communicators to make them, from your perspective, have more respect for the work done by agencies?
NICOLE: You show up not only understanding what their company right like our clients do, your strategic, you are always on, and you’re always giving good advice, right? That’s how you gain their respect and their trust, and that’s really the only way. If you’re sitting back and waiting for the in-house people to just give you orders, then you’re actually not doing what you’re supposed to be doing as an agency. You’re supposed to be coming in as a partner and saying, you know what? You guys have this great perspective, I’m not sure if you saw what was going on out here, but we did a little bit of research on what’s happening with your competitors, and we think that strategically, if we make this move, you help them win the game of chess, right? These are all chess moves, you’re making strategic moves here and there with your messaging, with your announcements, with timing. If you’re not coming to the table with that in mind, then you’re not going to gain the respect of the in-house people and they’re just going to think that your pawns, that they can push around and say, well, just go write this press release and go pitch that. That’s really not, yeah, that’s certainly not how our clients feel about NRPR when we show up.
DOUG: So, Nicole, it’s been great to talk to you. I think from this, most people might not want to take you on and chat, but I think they might be more likely to be interested in having provided the guidance and strategic information that you do so well. Thanks so much for joining us.
NICOLE: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.