Bio: Steve Turner is a Principal with Solomon Turner PR in St. Louis. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Steve and his partner, Shelly Solomon, are the original founders of the agency. An award winning firm Solomon Turner has been named One of the Top PR Firms in St. Louis for 12 years in a row by Small Business Monthly. Steve was recently named a Publicist Rockstar by Authority Magazine and Thrive Global. Solomon. Serving clients nationwide Solomon Turner’s main focus is on media relations. For more visit https://solomonturner.com.
Question: How has the pandemic affected your firm, Solomon Turner PR?
Answer: We serve mostly companies involved in the business to business segment so while billings took an early hit most clients have continued to execute their PR strategy. A few projects got delayed in February but then we began to get referrals from other resources. We have actually picked up a few clients in the last few months to go along with those who were already utilizing our services. Things are getting back on track.
Question: What kind of services are you providing during this time?
Answer: Some of it is typical messaging creation and campaign execution. We have written speeches, helped clients apply for awards, created communications pieces for internal purposes, assisted businesses with proper segmentation of target audiences and devised a communications strategy for each, and of course had a strong focus on media relations which is our forte. During the current quarantine type situation we are exploring ways for clients to make better use of digital outlets to help meet their goals.
Question: Speaking of media, newspapers, radio and TV stations have sustained a major drop in revenue due to a huge reduction in ad spend. Reporters have been let go or furloughed and many journalists are working from home during the quarantine. How have you been able to execute a media relations campaign with all these challenges?
Answer: It’s been difficult in some instances and not bad in others. Editors, reporters and producers continue to seek out good stories, you just need to read and watch to get a pattern of what they are writing and talking about. Obviously much of what is written about deals with COVID-19 and the pandemic. The expertise of a PR professional can be of real value, as they use their media relationships to help the client build branding and awareness. For example our local business journal has been writing about area executives who are working from home during the quarantine. They want to know how these executives have been able to get work done with the challenges of working with little or no office space, video work calls, children at home, a working spouse or significant other, pets and other potential interruptions. We were able to work with two clients on this and both received a large feature article with photos. Some may call this “news jacking” but I believe it’s just the creative use of fulfilling the needs of an editor with the needs of a client.
Question: So how can public relations firms help clients win in the current environment?
Answer: PR firms can help a client win now by looking for innovative and creative ways to connect with the client’s target audience, and help them understand the client has the best solution for the problem that business may face. Many businesses have reduced staff or, to stay safe, have sent people home to work virtually. Many key decisions will be made at home on a computer, or in a virtual meeting, rather than in a conference room. A business will have to have a strong online presence to even be considered as part of those conversations. Public relations firms can help clients maximize their digital presence to ensure they are not passed over during those discussions. This can include updating messaging, redesigning or enhancing the company’s website, generating news in key targeted publications, leveraging that news-whether it be posting on a website on social sites or in an email newsletter, applying for and winning key industry awards, enhancing the business’ brand on social media, developing webinars and special online events, SEO, and other strategies. As opposed to CEOs hoping the economy improves before they invest in marketing, those businesses who utilize a PR firm now will be well prepared to quickly ramp up sales and not only win, but win big in the coming weeks.