Developing PR Skills | KWSM Mentorship Program

PR and Marketing go hand-in-hand. Recently, I was able to teach PR skills to a teammate and flex my digital marketing muscles through KWSM’s Mentorship Program.

KWSM’s Mentorship Program

developing PR SkillsHere at KWSM, we believe you should never stop learning. Our annual mentorship program is a way to focus on one aspect of digital marketing and improve your mastery of that skill. During the program, pairs of marketers come together as a mentor and a mentee. These groupings then embark on a 12-week rigorous training program based around one area of marketing they want to focus on. 

As part of the KWSM Mentorship Program this year, I teamed up with junior copywriter Ashlee Bagnell and dove into the different elements of public relations. During our training, we covered several aspects of PR, including press releases, press digests, sourcing media, pitching media, and the value of public relations. It was a great teaching experience as a mentor and together Ashlee and I grew significantly and got some great results for our clients. Here’s a look at the experience. 

Mentorship Goals

At the start of our 12 weeks together, we set up goals and expectations for our curriculum. Ashlee had very little public relations experience and was interested in boosting her PR skills to further help her clients meet their goals. As a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist with a focus on PR, my goal was to transfer as much PR knowledge as possible and help Ashlee get some wins. In order to achieve these goals, I focused on a few tactics:

  • How to create an effective press digest 
  • How to develop and write a press release
  • Media sourcing and list building for distribution

The Essential Elements of PR

Ashlee and I met bi-weekly to explore the elements of public relations. We started with the most common question, “What is Public Relations?”

As defined by the Public Relations Society of America, public relations is “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” 

Since PR is all about relationship building, we focused on elements that could facilitate creating media connections and showcasing our clients. Ashlee was dedicated to making the most of this experience and learning as much about PR as possible. In addition to our bi-weekly training sessions, Ashlee enrolled in several LinkedIn courses to boost her PR skills. The courses included: Essential New Skills in Media and Communication, 17 PR Mistakes to Avoid, and Public Relations Foundations. She put her new knowledge into practice through writing a press release, press digest, and sourcing media to send the collateral to.

We set out to create a press release and press digest for two KWSM clients and develop a custom media list for each in order to reach their target audiences.

Press Release

A press release is a written document used to announce something newsworthy in the most objective way possible. The purpose of a press release is to both to get media coverage and to get the word out to the public. Ashlee decided to develop a press release for a client launching a new product this fall. 

As part of her process, she interviewed members of the team to hone in on the most important details and quotes to include in her press release. Her release included all of the most important elements for an effective PR:

  • A compelling headline and sub-headline
  • An informative first paragraph
  • 2-3 powerful quotes
  • Facts and figures
  • A detailed boilerplate

Press Digest

Although similar to press releases, press digests are a more personal way to connect with a journalist and build a relationship between them and a company’s CEO. Our goal was to position one of our clients as a thought leader for the trucking logistics industry. To create this press digest Ashlee did industry research, created a client response and quotes for breaking news on California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) which extended employee classification status to some gig workers such as truck drivers.

Media Sourcing

The third part of our action plan was developing media lists for our press release and press digest. Using our public relations software, Ashlee practiced searching for both writers and media outlets, reviewing their beats and social channels, and determining whether they were an appropriate fit for our clients’ target audiences. Then, she made a plan to use these lists to send out her press release and press digest at just the right time.

The Data

Although we were not able to send our press release during this program due to the client’s product launch date shifting, we were able to send our planned trucking logistics press digest. Here is a snapshot of the results we achieved.

  • 36% open rate
  • Top media opens:
    • City Journal
    • American Journal of Transportation
    • American Shipper

My Takeaways

KWSM’s Mentorship Program is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at the agency. As a third-time participant in the program, I love the leadership opportunity to flex my own marketing muscles while also helping another digital marketer develop new skills. 

Ashlee was passionate about public relations and dove head first into learning everything she could. I was blown away by the pieces she wrote and our clients were also impressed with her work as well! Ashlee truly followed through on the goals she set out to accomplish and has come out as a stronger marketer on the other side.

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Follow Brianna Zambrano:
Brianna is a Digital Marketing Strategist with experience in social media, public relations, copywriting and SEO in industries including hospitality, legal, logistics and real estate. When not at the office, she enjoys hiking and playing games with her husband and son.

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