Let’s Get to Know PR Expert Karen Floyd
Welcome Karen Floyd to the Growth Division Expert Community! Karen has 5 years of global PR experience and startups, and ten years working in technology across SaaS, PaaS and IoT. We spoke to Karen to get to know her a little better, plus her top tips on how to do PR properly in 2023.
Welcome Karen! What are common misconceptions about PR?
There are numerous misconceptions about PR, from thinking it’s all super glamorous to thinking anyone can do it. For example, I’ve heard some people claim that PR is the same as advertising. Yes, PR and advertising can grow brand awareness and increase sales, but PR does much more. PR is a means of building a reputation, cementing credibility, nurturing community, educating, and facilitating a two-way dialogue with an audience, which is invaluable.
If you want to become a thought leader in your sector and secure more speaking engagements, advertising won’t help you achieve those goals, but PR will. Any business can pay to advertise, but earned media takes substance, consistency and relationships.
Another misconception is thinking all it takes is one press release to do the trick when, really, PR requires regular quality material journalists love publishing. For that, you need to know what individual journalists and publications need.
Finally, some people think appearing in their industry’s top titles is easy. Yes, if you’re advertising but not necessarily with PR. Being able to pitch successfully to busy journalists swimming in press releases is a particular skill. Securing earned media opportunities with reputable publishers requires a precise understanding of the work of journalists and editors. I could go on, but suffice it to say that one CMO client I worked with for several years decided to go into PR and said it was only after working for a PR agency that she fully understood what PR involves.
What are your top tips for a successful PR strategy?
- Hire a reputable PR expert, which is not always easy in an unregulated profession, but a safe way to discern the wheat from the chaff is to check for PR qualifications, memberships of professional PR bodies and past results.
- Use storytelling with data and emotion, and be factual and accurate.
- Plan properly, know your audiences, align PR goals with company goals and be clear about targets and measurement.
- Use quality measurement tools to assess the success of campaigns and your messaging and tweak as you go, as necessary.
- Research journalists and publications before approaching, and don’t pretend you’re best friends when you’ve never met. Know exactly how they like PRs to contact them.
- Always respond to requests on time.
- Consider an integrated approach to PR, including community sponsorship, promotions, stakeholder engagement and face-to-face customer activity.
- Be sure to share your best coverage internally and externally.
Is the earned media value a good measurement of any PR activities?
It is a good measurement for organisations that want to know the advertising value equivalent of their PR activity to see how much their PR is worth and what they’d have to spend on advertising to get similar exposure. It’s not necessarily the best measurement, though, and I’d never use this metric alone. We also need to measure audience reach, mentions of spokespeople, key messages, impact and share of voice.
Tell us more about your PR expertise
I worked as a managing editor for seven years before entering PR, so I knew how journalists and editors operated and what they needed from PRs. I’ve held CMO roles too, and I’ve experienced the pain points that Growth Division addresses, and it’s one of the reasons Growth Division is such a valuable service. I founded a PR agency in 2008 and worked globally in SaaS, PaaS, IoT, travel, commercial fishing, and the built environment. In 2017, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations invited me to become a Chartered PR, which involved having specific PR qualifications, more than a decade of PR experience, and passing rigorous testing on ethics, strategy and leadership. One per cent of PR professionals in Europe have achieved Chartered status, which was a fantastic accolade to receive.
What does good, bad and ugly look like when it comes to PR?
The good looks like me, of course! The good looks like long-term client relationships, consistently excellent results, a long time with an agency-side or in-house employer and qualifications and training. The bad looks like promising the world and delivering nothing while demanding a high retainer! The ugly looks like no planning, no metrics and no accountability.
Who is your dream client?
My dream client is a company that can’t live without great PR! I love working with clients who know how to manage their expectations and engage in PR because they’re in it for the long haul and understand the power of PR to build reputation, cement credibility, and establish a dialogue with audiences. I love clients who value my professional advice and opinion. I especially love working with organisations that know comms and PR need a seat at the board table. After all, communication is critical to all aspects of life and business.
When you are not working, what do you do?
When I’m not working, I love being in nature, hiking somewhere beautiful and swimming in the ocean. In addition, I love to read and write. My passion is teaching spirituality and dreamwork, and I enjoy holding spiritual workshops and retreats. I love teaching people how to change their brainwaves at will to access altered states of consciousness for greater self-awareness, insights, stronger intuition and better health.