4 Lessons Learned From a Big PR Campaign

PR Campaign Lessons

In late January, we announced Unito’s Series A funding round. It was a huge milestone for us — one we wanted to share with the world. To do so, we planned our largest ever PR campaign. 

The campaign was a huge success, driving tier-one media coverage from sources like TechCrunch and VentureBeat. It was also our highest day of website and blog traffic ever and resulted in a huge influx of job applications.

While we’re extremely happy with the outcome, the campaign was also a learning experience. We discovered what PR techniques worked really well and quickly recognized where we dropped the ball. 

Getting ready for a big launch yourself? Here are four lessons learned from a big PR campaign. 

Leverage your entire network

We’re not blowing your mind with this tip, but it’s worth emphasizing. Public relations doesn’t work in isolation. You can’t just convince a few reporters to write stories about you, then sit back and watch to see what happens.

It’s now standard practice for businesses to ask their employees to share company news with their own personal networks. This worked really well for us the day of the launch. Our team was happy to spread the news of our Series A on LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook (guaranteed likes from moms everywhere) and this had a clear impact on our social media metrics. We also doubled down and had staff members share our job listings page the day after the launch, almost as a CTA for those who saw their first social posts. We saw a spike in applications for several days following the announcement, and we’re positive this approach played a role in that growth.

Pro tip: Create templated social media messages for your employees to share. Encourage everyone to write their own messages of course, but for those who are very busy or simply not great writers, a templated message drastically increases their chances of sharing.

Most companies stop at their employees, but your network extends so much further than your coworkers. We reached out to our investors, our partners, and members of the local tech community before the PR campaign to ask if they’d share the news on the day. This led to tweets from the official Trello and Wrike accounts (over 195,000 combined followers), Trello’s co-founder Michael Pryor, LinkedIn posts from all of our investors, and many more reshares from extended members of our network.

When we say leverage your entire network, we really mean everyone who would be willing to share or whose audience would be interested in the news.

Pro tip: Take the time to build out a network list with your team or executives ahead of a PR campaign. You can reuse that list for all future campaigns or announcements. And don’t be afraid to provide them with message suggestions as well. Busy people appreciate any time saved. 

Don’t try to force too much into a PR campaign

Imagine it’s your wedding day. Everyone is there to see you. Your partner starts their vows by saying how happy they are to be getting married, but then decides to tell people they just got promoted at work, they’re celebrating their 30th birthday next month, and you both just bought brand new cars. What do you think your guests are going to end up talking about? 

When you try to force too much news into a PR campaign, you risk distracting from the one core message you’re trying to push. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t have other announcements or storylines ready. Doing so actually helped us rally the entire team behind the announcement, by giving them skin in the game. For example, our developers were working hard on product updates so they’d be ready for PR launch day. But sticking to a single focus throughout your campaign keeps your message consistent and increases the likelihood of that primary story getting picked up. 

Our PR campaign was about our Series A funding round. That was the thread present in all of our public relations efforts. We used it as the pillar of our pitches to journalists, our press release, our blog post, an on-site coupon campaign (more on that below), and our social messaging. 

Our press release did mention new partnerships with HubSpot and Zendesk. Our blog post shared new product features we had recently launched. And our social posts also mentioned that we had lots of job openings. But the focus of the campaign was the funding round and it was front and center in everything we did. 

Pro tip: Showcase other news or story angles on your owned channels for new visitors to engage with. The main blog post about your PR campaign might draw people into your site, but what should they do once they’re there? You want them to continue exploring and increase the number of touchpoints they have with your business. Those secondary hooks you’ve prepared might just be the answer. 

Have incentives ready for new visitors

If your PR campaign is a success, you’ll likely see a massive influx of traffic the day you launch and possibly in the days that follow. Instead of just hoping this results in more leads or sign-ups, take a more active role in trying to drive conversions. 

We paired our PR launch with a coupon campaign. When someone landed on the website for the week following the announcement they’d see a pop-up after 10 seconds. 

That pop-up said something like, “To celebrate our Series A funding round, we’re providing a 10% discount on all new annual signups for the next week,” and required an email submission to access the code. It was far more successful than we expected. 

The pop-up drove 94 new leads in under a week, and generated over $7,000 in revenue. Of course, people may have still signed up without the coupon. But their time to conversion would have been much longer than just a few days. By providing the incentive out of the gate and giving the coupon a time limit, we immediately capitalized on our new traffic. 

Pro tip: By tying the copy of the pop-up to the PR news, we made sure the coupon campaign was relevant to the new visitors just discovering Unito — a largely top-of-funnel audience that might otherwise be off-put by a pushy pop-up on their first visit. When you create ads pushing to a landing page, you make sure the copy is consistent between those two touchpoints. Do the same for your coupon campaign.

Plan post-launch initiatives to maintain momentum

A PR campaign can sometimes represent months of work, all building towards a single kick-off moment. After the work’s done, you watch the stories roll in and the social mentions explode and you know the effort you put in was worth it. Then you go home and sleep for several days, right?

If you let all of your PR campaign work build up to — and end on — a single day, you’ve wasted a massive opportunity for your business. 

  • You’re allowing prospective customers who were interested in the news but not ready to commit to drop out of the funnel. 
  • You’re allowing journalists who didn’t write stories about your big launch to once again forget that you exist. 
  • And you’re allowing your metrics, which so beautifully spiked on launch day, to fall back to earth. 

So how do you stop this from happening? Build post-launch initiatives into your campaign plan. 

For any lead gathering you do during the campaign, prepare a nurturing campaign that will continue long after the launch has come and gone. We did this for our pop-up modal, for example. 

Those journalists who you spoke to who didn’t bite in the end? Keep in touch. Follow them on social media. And maybe push some of those secondary story angles that weren’t the focus of your campaign. Oh and the journalists who did cover you? Reach out to them and thank them for the articles. Maintain that relationship so it’s warm for your next announcement. 

Then consider other ways you can capitalize on the PR campaign in the longer term. Add a section on your website that says “As seen in” with the logos of the websites that covered your announcement. Have a secondary PR push using your new tier-one coverage to try and land some podcast or event speaking gigs. Heck, maybe you can even write a blog post about lessons you learned from your big PR campaign. 

Putting these lessons to work 

Leveraging your entire network, focusing on a single story, creating incentives for new visitors, and preparing post-launch initiatives can mean the difference between a good PR campaign and a great one. One that drives concrete business results the day of the launch and continues doing so long after it’s over. Ready for your launch?