In the world of marketing, PR is one of the most under utilised tools of the trade. People spend thousands on elaborate advertising campaigns without ever considering the free and often more direct route to their target audience: Public Relations.
So, let's take a closer look at the term PR. Public Relations is defined as:
- the actions of a company, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc.
- the art, technique, or profession of promoting such goodwill.
Simply put Public Relations is about enhancing your relationship with your customers and promoting goodwill and customer loyalty. But, more importantly, many forms of Public Relations are FREE!
But of course, not everyone is a PR expert and this is where things get a little tricky. PR is not just about feeding pictures of raffles or politicians cutting ribbons to the media. PR is about developing stories and angles that appeal to the media's audience.
If your stories are not interesting, believable and provocative, then you will probably achieve little success.
For a story to raise interest with the media, it must contain some elements of the following:
- Volume Impact – it must have meaning for a large group of people.
- Timely – It must have happened very recently. This often means that you have to prepare your press release and send it to the media IN ADVANCE of an event.
- New – The story must be new and something that the media have not already over-covered.
- Near – The event needs to be close to the media source. A national newspaper will not cover a local story unless it has a national impact or interest.
- Mass Appeal – The story must be entertaining and appealing to the audience. The renowned angles that appeal to the masses are celebrities, tragedy, novelty, children, sex revelations and 'the human element'.
PR, like marketing, needs to be differentiated. It needs to stand out and make an impact. It also needs to reflect the personality of your brand. So, if your company wants to be positioned as a pillar in the local community, a controversial PR campaign is not the right route for you. You need to tell a more serious story but make it appealing by delivering hard facts that have relevance to the people you want to talk to.
Offering Your Opinion
In many cases, the media are actively seeking 'opinion leaders' to act as spokespersons in key areas. Many of us have views and opinions but fail to express them, so to offer this proposition to the media can be very valuable, particularly if you can offer an informed and expert opinion. A featured 'financial analysis' article, providing a regular weekly contribution is very valuable to the media, particularly if the content is relevant, timely and well delivered.
Getting your staff profiled is an excellent way to promote your business and to personalise your service. New appointment notices, if delivered in the correct manner, will often be considered a good story for the business pages of the relevant media.
Knowing What's On and In
Another very effective PR tool is keeping very up-to-date with industry trends, reports and articles. Understanding which journalists have a particular interest in your industry area will make sure that your PR is targeted and effective.
Achieving the most from PR, like any good strategy, requires some level of planning. This does not mean that you need to produce a manuscript. It means that you sit down with your team and work out what your objectives are, how you want the media to portray you and what messages you want to prioritise. It involves looking at your business plans for the year and determining what elements of this might be newsworthy, relevant to your target audience or open to an angle or story.
The Local Media Need You
Don't be afraid to build a relationship with your local media. Believe it or not, they need your stories. And, contrary to public opinion, journalists and reporters are ordinary people, just like you and me. They are not elusive jet-setters, who do not liaise with the public. Pick up the phone and call them. The media's responsibility is to cover stories that are of interest to the local community or their target audience. So, develop customised angles for each media type and don't hesitate to call an appropriate reporter. Your story may not always be appropriate or newsworthy but developing this personal first-name basis relationship with the journalist will pay off eventually.
PR is not just about the Papers
Also remember that PR is not just about submitting press releases to your local media. It includes community involvement, speaking at conferences and events, media commentary, public events and workshops and anything that puts you in the public eye and builds your public profile.
Article submitted by Angela Geraghty, Managing Director, Proactive