Marketing Basics: Public Relations – how to shout about your business success!

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OK so Public Relations – or PR – was one of the alternatives I suggested to advertising in the last Marketing Basics post.  It is also something we should all be doing to promote our businesses.  There is so much to write about PR that this could be the longest newsletter ever.  But I really don’t want to bore you – ok – I really want to try not to bore you!

There are three main things I think you should know and remember about PR and they are what I lovingly call the Three Cs:

Content

Contacts

Consistency

Here is the explanation of the 3 Cs in what I hope will be an illuminating fashion.

Content

No story – no coverage.  No matter how much you might want the free publicity of PR, if you don’t have a story the journos want – just don’t bother.

So how do you know if you have a story?  Ask an expert.  It’s all very well keeping an eye on your budget but there are some things that you just need to turn to the experts for.  And, if I may be so bold, I am one of those experts.

Having owned and run my own publication and with many years of media experience to boot, I really do know what makes a good story and what is likely to catch a journalist’s eye.

If you think you have a story that could get you some coverage then feel free to whiz the idea past me and will be more than happy to give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

For reference here are some headlines from client stories that I have obtained coverage for:

  • Loseley Park welcomes a third generation into the stately home’s working family (local and national industry coverage)
  • Local businesswoman virtually races along for charity (local coverage)
  • Local charity gives cancer sufferers a lifeline (local coverage)
  • Local business network marks venue re-launch with speed-networking event (local coverage)
  • Say goodbye to “bad NO hair” days:
  • Ultra-feminine fashion to make women feel gorgeous again! (local and national industry coverage)

See a theme?  Not just the local thing, but also the fact that there is a story here.  Each release received coverage in at least one of the targeted publications precisely because of the story behind the headline and its suitability for the publication involved.  Also the fact that each release was written in such a way that the receiving journalist wouldn’t have to do much with it was a plus – us journos can be lazy so and sos!

Again, whizz your ideas past me and I can let you know what I think.  If you want to take it one step further then we can have a chat about how to start making PR work for you and your business.


Contacts

This is about knowing who you are targeting, in terms of choosing the right publications to receive your release (and just like a covering letter for a job application re-writing that release, if needs be, to relate to the individual journalist) and developing your media contacts list as well as developing your credibility with that list as a source of good, interesting and newsworthy.

Again this is really something that a PR expert is best at, as they will have already developed many contacts and if they need to look in to a new area for you, they will know how to research the contacts within that area and how best to make the approach.


Consistency

This is the third really important, nee critical, part of an effective PR strategy and the key is in the word strategy.

PR simply DOES NOT WORK as a one hit wonder, unless you have a Britney kissing Madonna sensation, and to be honest this only works because both parties involved have high profiles already, mainly down to good PR strategies.

You can’t imagine the world’s media baying like hounds off the leash at two unknown women having a snog in the street can you?  So profile works and profile comes from consistency and strategy.

You can create your profile, just like you can create a whiz-bang website.  But if no one knows about it then it won’t make a blind bit of difference how whiz-bang that site is.

It’s the same with PR.  You need to look at PR as a long-term, drip-feed marketing strategy, which gradually builds up your profile and gets people knowing about you, with more and more credibility each time.

Every time you send out a good, news worthy press release that gets you some coverage, you do two important things:

You develop your relationship and credibility with the receiving journalist and their publication making it more likely they will accept information from you and even start to turn to you as an expert source/commentator on your particular topic or area of expertise AND

You raise and add to your profile, again giving you credibility – this time with the end-user, the reader and your target audience.

And this doesn’t happen overnight – or very rarely does it happen overnight.  That means you have to put a long-term PR strategy in place, which involves setting yourself goals as a result of your PR and following up on that strategy by consistently examining your business and identifying relevant stories that will get you coverage, raise your profile and deliver your marketing messages.


One Thing To Remember

There is one thing that you must remember about PR – despite having the best story in the world you CANNOT guarantee that you will get coverage.

News works on a sliding scale or by grading on the curve.  What might be headline news one day – virtually guaranteed – might get bumped the next day because something bigger or better has come in.

You just don’t know and it is this very lack on control that makes PR so credible.  It is used by what the general public perceive as an independent source – i.e. the journalist or the publication involved.  This means that it is not you saying how great you are but someone else entirely who has no reason to do so but for the fact that it is true!

(Why do you think news readers are one of the few faces on television that face the camera?  It is to give them power and credibility.  They are talking directly to you, delivering important news – it wouldn’t come across so factual, professional and credible if the news were presented in a chat show format would it?)

However, it is the very fact of credibility that makes PR a long-term, continual activity.  You have NO CONTROL (or very, very little) over what the journalist does or doesn’t decide to use, how they are going to use it and ultimately what they end up writing.  It’s called freedom of the press for a reason!

So you balance out low credibility with high control as with advertising versus HIGH credibility with LOW control as in the case of PR.  Having a PR expert help you with your PR strategy is one way to give you a little more control or in other words – it gives you an edge – but you have to remember we are all still prey to the whim of the journos and there are NO guarantees!  (Even if you do combine the Content, Contacts  Consistency of effective PR.)

I have also written an article on how to get free publicity for your business – a simple “How To” guide on writing an effective press release.  If you would like a copy just email me.

And if you think you might need help with your marketing and PR strategy then give me a call  01932 219069 or drop me a line: alex@justtoobusy.co.uk.