Many businesses have little appreciation or understanding of Public Relations (PR) and often leave it in the too-hard basket. It involves a lot of planning, the ominous task of making contact regularly and often in person, and can frequently result in disappointment. But when executed correctly and with the advice of a professional, it can be one of the most cost effective and successful marketing tools out there.
So what is Public Relations? Marketing Text books would define it as: ‘Non personal stimulation of demands for goods, services or business units by generating commercially significant news about them in the mass media. It is not paid for directly by a sponsor’. My definition – ‘translating business activity into newsworthy items’. It’s about getting media interested and aware of what you are doing, and encouraging them to write or talk about it. And best of all – it’s free.
So how do you make it work for you? Here are a few tips:
1. Create and maintain relationships with local media – go and introduce yourself to the local journalist (or manager if you can get that high up) – tell them about what you’re doing and you’d appreciate their support. Then you need to keep this going – visiting, calling, or emailing on a regular basis. This requires a fine balance between persistence and politeness – if you can master that, you’re on the way.
3. Find something interesting in what you are doing – have you used new technology? Have you employed someone interesting? Are you an example of a business success story? Are you setting an example for other businesses?
4. Consider what’s in it for them – after all, media outlets want to increase their readership/viewership, so think of what you can offer them in return to help them achieve their objectives – refer your clients to them for any advertising, offer some great photography or footage to go along with your article, donate some of your time to helping them deliver papers – be inventive!
5. Get familiar with journalistic writing and put together media releases on a regular basis – even if at first they are ignored or severely chopped, the better you become at creating newsworthy content, the higher the chances of being published.
6. Find ways to enhance the ‘newsworthiness’ of your business activities – involve local schools, community or charity groups; get out there in the community and let your face be known; document and celebrate staff events (marriages, babies, length of employment etc.) – you get the idea.
7. Get photos! Even if you feel like a big cheese shaking hands and posing. Pictures say so much about you and about your company.
8. If you don’t succeed in local media – use your website. Establish a news or media section and keep those articles coming. Put them on your home page or create an RSS feed. Keep it up to date, and keep it lighthearted. Corporate news can become a bit boring sometimes.
9. Finally – read, watch and keep up to date with anything to do with media outlets. Keep an eye out for take-overs, appointments of new staff members, change in layout etc. Knowing what’s going on keeps you better informed, and gives you a conversation point for your next phone call!
In the coming months you’ll see the power of PR at work – we’ll be implementing our own marketing campaign and PR is an integral piece of the puzzle.
If you’d like some help with PR – don’t hesitate to contact me or any one of our team members. We have great relationships with local and state media and can devise a workable PRstrategy and plan, or help you devise a media release that won’t be rejected.