With no end in sight to the wedding boom keeping the industry stretched thin, many professionals find little time to focus on their publicity. But with a record number of engaged couples seeking wedding services, now is not the time to let your brand awareness fall behind.
“But how could I possibly think about real wedding submissions and press features when my week is full of client work?”
An astute question with a simple answer: automation.
By letting your PR run on autopilot most of the time, you can step back and attend to your clients’ needs knowing your bases are covered. Then, once your systems are in place, all you have to do is check in from time to time to ensure everything is running smoothly.
Now, the reality is that you can’t automate every last thing. Much like other business processes, automation exists to support your PR efforts. As a business owner, you’re still responsible for keeping tabs on the workflow and adding personal touches. (Don’t worry – this post will cover time management strategies for creating that space in your schedule!)
So how do you streamline your PR approach? It starts with focusing on what’s working on what’s not. Here are a few ways to determine that.
Set realistic priorities for the year.
Keyword: realistic. Sit down with yourself and your team and look at your business’s landscape with a shrewd eye. What will serve you best when you’re at your busiest? You can’t do everything under the sun, especially in a year as jam-packed with weddings as this one.
Be decisive and cut out anything that doesn’t offer value at this moment. This doesn’t mean you drop everything forever — it simply means you need to prioritize what is essential right now. This requires you to look ahead to the next three, six, and twelve months. What do they look like? Will you have a dip at some point to come up for air? Where does PR realistically fit into that?
As you work through this exercise, be mindful of the resources available to you and your team. There may be opportunities to outsource, delegate, or automate as needed, so keep an open mind while remaining practical about your bandwidth.
Get a grasp on your ROI.
It’s never wise to put all of your eggs in one basket, but it’s especially imprudent if you don’t know which basket is riddled with holes. In other words, you need to know where your leads are coming from to determine where to invest your time, money, and energy.
For instance, if you’re shelling out for front-page advertising on a leading industry blog, but you’re getting next to no traffic, you’d be better off reallocating your resources to a more profitable avenue. The same goes for PR. Say you’ve been pulling in many inquiries from a few recent podcast appearances — that’s a good sign you should dedicate more time to podcast pitching!
There are two great ways to evaluate this information. The first is, of course, your website analytics. Check your traffic report to see where your visitors are coming from! If you’re seeing a lot of traffic but few conversions, that’s a good sign that your website needs to be adjusted to offer more value or provide additional information.
For the data-averse folks, you can gather these insights by simply adding a section to your contact form that asks, “How did you hear about us?” Include all of the avenues you may acquire leads — podcasts, guest articles, real weddings, organic Google searches, social media, etc. Then, start tracking the responses to determine where to reinvest your resources.
Take advantage of your existing resources.
It’s a tale as old as time. You see a shiny new software, sign up, and start using it right away — but you don’t realize all the ways you’re not using it to your advantage. There are many digital systems and tools with robust automation features that go untouched, so revisit your current tech environment to see if you can level up anything you already use.
Case in point: We’ve used AirTable for quite a while, but we weren’t leveraging the powerful automations to save even more time on our end. Now, a lot of our processes run like clockwork — but it required us to take a step back and consider how to make the most of what we already have.
So take some time to revisit the resources you’ve already invested in, and look at them from a different perspective. How can you maximize these assets in your toolbox?
Outsource wherever possible.
There’s a good chance you’re already outsourcing some elements of your business – whether it’s bookkeeping, social media, website design, or sales. So why not ask for help when it comes to your PR? Just because you’re leading the business doesn’t mean you have to touch every detail of media outreach.
Delegation is key. You cannot grow without delegating, nor can you take time off (essential for busy event professionals!). This doesn’t mean you need to go out and hire a full-time employee. Instead, you could find part-time staff or outsource to contractors.
The opportunities out there, so take advantage of what’s at your disposal! Even sites like Fiverr and TaskRabbit can help you save valuable time in your day. So consider this your permission to stop doing everything and let someone else help you.
Assess how you spend your time.
Between scrolling through TikTok and triple-checking your inbox, you may be surprised how much time you spend on non-essential activities. If you’re not managing the time-wasters in your schedule, the first step is to identify them.
I recommend using a time-tracker like Clockify, Toggl, or Harvest to track your time during a relatively normal week. (This isn’t a worthwhile exercise if you’re short-staffed and putting in extra hours!) Every time you start or switch tasks, track how you’re using that time. Is an hour of work truly dedicated to the project at hand? Or is there a phone call here or an article there to pull away your attention?
After a week, your time log will reveal how much time you spend on any given task. You’ll be surprised how much of your day is dedicated to things that feel productive but are not profitable activities. Going forward, you can be more mindful of how you use your time.
Embrace the power of block scheduling.
Block scheduling is an often-preached time management technique, and with good reason – it works! Go to your calendar and block periods of time to do specific things you need to do. For example, perhaps your creative juices are strongest in the morning, so you block out two hours for design work to start your day. If you like to work through emails and admin tasks to close out the day, create that space on your calendar as a visual reminder.
But setting up your calendar for success is only half the battle. Then, you have to stick with it! Consider each time block an appointment with yourself — these are the tasks you must complete, so don’t let yourself deviate from the agreed-upon schedule.
For PR, these blocks could be for researching podcast hosts, reading industry articles, writing pitches, and so on. By committing to your calendar, you can avoid falling prey to the never-ending checklist while progressing in the areas you deem a top priority.
Make daunting tasks manageable.
Sometimes, it’s less about time management and more about motivation. When you have a task that feels overwhelming, it can be hard even to take the first step. This is where time chunking comes in.
Say you want to submit to a speaking opportunity, but it’s clear the process will take at least three hours to complete. If you can’t bear to lose a significant part of your day to it at once, break it up and knock it out in smaller increments over time. Forward is forward!
To do this, you will need to be mindful of deadlines and plan accordingly. This speaks to the importance of being proactive with your PR, so you can have a month or more to work on a submission instead of trying to squeeze it in the last few days.
Set repeatable tasks on auto.
Certain recurring to-dos will keep popping up on your calendar, so see if you can find a way to streamline them. You can do this with time blocks, setting specific tasks to repeat on your calendar every week, month, or year.
It’s worth doubling back to say that this is a great place to start outsourcing! Recurring tasks are prime for delegation, as they are predictable and expected. You can create standard operating procedures (SOPs) and hand them off to a virtual assistant.
And, of course, automate where you can. Revisit your current processes to see where there are repeating tasks that don’t need to be done manually. For instance, if you’re losing time interviewing couples for real wedding submissions (or worse, not making time to do it at all), find a way to automate that outreach! If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, it’s as easy as adding an email to your workflow with a questionnaire that auto-populates in one easy place for you to access later.
Maximize tech solutions.
There are countless tools that can simplify your life, your business, and your publicity efforts. A few of my favorites include:
- Boomerang for Gmail: Schedule your emails to send at the right time, then have them pop back into your inbox as a reminder to follow up. Perfect for managing relationships with writers and editors!
- HARO (Help a Reporter Out): I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — sign up for HARO. You’ll get three digests of press queries delivered to your inbox each day, ready for you to chime in. If that sounds overwhelming, use the handy Command-F/CTRL-F keyboard shortcut to search the email for your keywords.
- Talkwalker Alerts: No more scouring the internet for your latest press features — let Talkwalker send them right to you. Set up alerts for your name, business name, and other keywords you want to keep tabs on. It’s free and more robust than Google Alerts, so I highly recommend signing up right now.
With the help of technology and a good old-fashioned support team, you can keep up with your public relations strategy without letting it take over your business (or your schedule). And in a busier-than-ever season, it’s well worth it to put your brand out in the media and win over your audience’s attention!