Marketing Professional Development

The Art of Storytelling: How to Use PR to Change Your Business

PR is very important for sharing your firm's message and creating new business.

Public relations and earned media are a great way to keep your company or firm in front of your clients and prospects. But how do you ensure that your PR is effective? PR comes down to being able to tell a compelling story, one your clients and prospects want to hear. The late Don Hewitt, creator of the CBS news show 60 Minutes was renowned for saying to his reporters, “Tell me a story.” Your clients and prospects are no different. They want to hear a story. You should be prepared to tell them a good one.

Effective public relations will help you tell your story. Below are a few key points to keep in mind when you are ready to embark on that journey.

Research. Research. Research.

In order for your public relations activities to be effective you need know what types of stories your target likes and how they like to have them delivered. Do they prefer online or print?  You will also need to figure out which media outlets cover your industry or expertise and who the players within these outlets are.

Finally, learn the editorial calendar for each of these outlets, if they have one (and they should). Pitching stories that coincide with these calendars can be very effective.

Craft an interesting story.

What makes your firm interesting? What sorts of activities and specialties make you unique? Are you an expert in a certain industry or practice area? If you don’t have something compelling or novel, it’s not really newsworthy. Ask yourself a few questions about whether or not your target prospect/client would find this interesting.

Make sure the story matches the reporter.

As indicated before, reporters tend to specialize when it comes to the topics they cover. Take some time to research the reporter’s previous articles to see what she/he writes about and craft your pitch to their expertise and vice versa. You don’t want to pitch a construction-related article to the reporter that covers state and local government issues.

Make sure your pitch is timely.

If your pitch is something that has been covered recently it may not be worthwhile for the reporter to have it covered again. You will need to stay on top of industry trends and legislative changes so that you can be first to pitch the story.

For example, accountants and lawyers should be pitching stories and interviews whenever new laws are close to being enacted that may affect taxes, etc. Don’t wait until the law is passed, it may be too late and your competitor may have already occupied that space.

Additionally, accountants should also be pitching stories related to taxes at year-end or tax deadline. Remember, if you’re not first with the pitch you need to make sure you’re unique in what you want to talk about.

Follow up and be in touch.

There are instances where the reporter or editor simply didn’t get your pitch. Or, if they did get your pitch, it came at a bad time or went to the wrong person. You need to politely and courteously follow-up on your pitches to make sure you’re getting it in the proper hands.

Finally, be in regular contact with your media sources. Provide them with story ideas and unique angles, maybe even a tip here and there. Reporters are always on the lookout for stories and if they know you and trust you they will come back to you again, and that’s what you want. You want to be the subject matter expert for them.

Final Note

As an accounting firm, be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of overloading your media outlets. Again, what you think is newsworthy may not be to potential clients. Take a moment or two to think about whether or not your idea or story is truly newsworthy to your target market and the reporter before you send it and potentially damage your brand and your reputation.

Share the story idea with a few others within the firm and get their feedback. If you have a marketing or communications professional in the firm, please make sure you’re keeping him or her in the loop. Better yet, get them involved in the process, that’s what they are there for. If you do not have a marketing or communications professional and are at all hesitant to do your own public relations, please consult a professional.


This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.
Photo Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_strejman'>strejman / 123RF Stock Photo

Tim Allen is an experienced professional services marketing professional with broad experience in strategy creation, branding and business development. Mr. Allen has held top marketing positions in both large, national CPA firms as well as smaller, regional firms where he has been instrumental in creating and implementing a firm-wide marketing culture. He has written and presented extensively on the intricacies of services marketing and is currently writing his first book on the transition from college to career and creating your personal brand for the millennial generation.

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