Many people think PR is just about press releases and traditional media-pitching tactics, but the reality is that there are a multitude of tools and techniques available for brands. Press releases and pitches are absolutely key – but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Trying out the “not-so-obvious” forms of PR may just be the push a brand needs to stand out. In this blog, we’re focusing on the important role opinion pieces, trade journal submissions and speaking engagements play in PR. 

1. Opinion Pieces (Opinion Placements): Op-Ed Columns and Letters to the Editor

Submitting an opinion piece is about sharing your perspective on something – whether that be your thought leadership on the issues of the day (an op-ed) or in response to a previously-written article (a letter to the editor). However, the act of writing opinion pieces is not just reserved for promoting your own voice – through them, you can also promote your brand. 

Opinion pieces (or opinion “placements,” as PR professionals prefer to call them) allow thought leaders to tout their brand or services in various ways. For instance, they can be sent to reporters and editors as demonstration of expertise for news stories, potentially resulting in residual media mentions. They can also be sent to bookers and producers in the broadcast space as examples of thought leadership, leading to TV, radio and podcast appearances. Earned media aside, opinion placements may also be circulated to consumers via social media advertising, expanding their reach and positioning the author(s) as true experts to the target audience. 

Of course, you can’t be too brand-promotional—opinion editors can see through overtly PR-y content. But you can still create and market content that features your brand, as long as it appeals to readers at the same time. Here’s a successful example of elevating a brand through an opinion placement from our strategic partner Luka Ladan, CEO of Zenica Public Relations: 

“I currently serve as a board member for Furniture Friends, a local nonprofit organization based in Westbrook, and we’ve worked on multiple op-eds in recent months. One opinion placement in particular was read by an individual who ended up donating to Furniture Friends, solely due to the op-ed. Otherwise, that person would not have known about the nonprofit. The op-ed promoted the organization’s good work in a way that directly benefited the bottom line within weeks, allowing Furniture Friends to serve more Mainers in need.” 

Connecting your brand to the right story at the right time (and the right publication!) can be a valuable way to promote your business. In the above case, Luka utilized an editorial placement to connect a brand – Furniture Friends – to a hot-button issue of the day – Afghan refugees arriving in Maine. By doing so in a way that felt authentic and relevant, local publications took note and published his content, thereby promoting the Furniture Friends brand and resulting in a donation to the business. 

2. Trade Journals

From time to time, the right “home” for an op-ed isn’t a mainstream news outlet; it’s a trade journal that focuses on a specific industry. When would you want to submit an op-ed to a trade journal, though?  

If the subject matter of an op-ed is especially niche and directly deals with the ins and outs of a given economic sector, it may make sense to submit that article to a trade journal. Trade op-eds allow thought leaders to directly target people in a given industry, rather than members of the general public who could be more tangentially interested. For example, destination-focused marketers could submit an article to trade journals like AAA Traveler, Travelocity, Frequent Flyer Magazine and more. 

While generally not as widely read as the Wall Street Journal or USA Today, trade journals serve as a hyper-targeted approach to reaching a business audience. Perhaps they allow your brand to gain B2B traction (in the above example, that could be a restaurant expanding their business to serve your destination). Or, perhaps trade journals connect your brand with others in their sector, forming valuable relationships and partnerships. In any case, trade journals allow op-eds to cut through the mainstream noise in unique ways.

3. Speaking Engagements 

Like op-eds or letters to the editor, speaking engagements allow you to highlight your brand in a relevant way, while networking with people in your field. Let’s say that you represent a PR agency and give an industry-related speech at a national business conference. That speech lends insight into your thought process and potential deliverables, which may be of interest to people at the conference. One attendee could become a paying client. Another attendee could refer you to people in need of their services. Speaking engagements allow people to market themselves and sell their brand. Even if no client revenue comes out of them, speaking engagements could just be opportunities to connect with people in a certain field, and that’s inherently valuable.  

“A speaking engagement is a win-win for PR because it’s a newsworthy event that can be used to generate publicity in the news media and it also positions the speaker as an expert in their field, instantly generating the kind of credibility needed for prospective clients to do business with you,” said Nancy Marshall, CEO of Marshall Communications and The PR Maven(R).  

In Summary 

Traditional PR tactics serve as an important launch pad for your brand, but standing out in your field requires creative thinking. By relevantly tying in your brand to op-eds, letters to the editor, trade journals and speaking engagements, you can promote your brand to an important audience: people interested in what you have to say and offer. The tough part? Finding time and forming connections to produce the results you want. Marshall Communications has extensive experience in beyond-the-norm PR – from PR Maven speaking engagements to a whole range of other diverse capabilities, we can help your brand stand out. And, because we have built a strong rapport with the local, national and international media over 30 years in business, journalists pick up the phone when we call. We’d love to work with you. Contact us!