This month we are going to focus on PR. PR, or ‘Public Relations’, relates to the practice of managing your brand image through communication with the public and media outlets. There are many benefits of spending time on PR. These include helping to build awareness of your business, help engage with your target audience and is often viewed as a more trusted source of communication vs traditional advertising.
There are many different types of PR. Once you have worked through your marketing strategy and have clearly identified who your target audience is, it then becomes easier to work out which media works best to reach you audience. They can include: events, sponsorship, community work or product placement eg: a new bakery may visit a business park during lunchtime, etc.
How to write a press release
You’ll be pleased to know that you don’t have to leave your public image up to chance! When done well, an engaging press release can help shape your brand image in exactly the way you want. Read on to learn how to use press releases to manage your company’s reputation, reach the right audiences and share positive stories that will grow your small business.
What to write:
A good press release will not only build positive PR for your business, but also enhance the content of the publication it is published within. Your press release might be used as a platform to…:
- Share news about your own business and developments, if they could be interesting to a wider audience – these could include: company milestone accomplishments, new products, brand partnerships, steps you’ve taken towards going green, etc.
- Write about events you have taken part in or awards you have won.
- Become an industry expert; provide a voice of authority on industry topics.
- Comment on current affairs that may relate to your business, and provide your opinion.
How to write it
It is good to stick to a format when creating press releases. Websites like http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Press-Release can help you find one you like, but a good rule to stick to is:
- Title: a headline to catch the reader’s attention – nothing gimmicky or too clever – that’s for the publisher to come up with.
- Subtitle: more of an explanation of what the story includes, try to keep this to a line or two, maximum.
- Body copy: Keep this as concise as possible and break the information into clear paragraphs, perhaps even subtitled (e.g. what we did, why we did it, the results).
- Background information: This section should include 5-6 key facts about your business, the topic of the press release, and anyone who is quoted in the press release. Think of this as the stuff that will save your recipient having to spend time researching.
- Your contact details: make sure these are on your press release as well as your covering email, in case the document gets printed and shared, or forwarded.
Who to approach
First off, identify a list of potential publications, journalists, bloggers and web editors that could be interested in your story. A good way to do this is to think about the type of news and entertainment outlets which align with the interests of your target customers. Don’t neglect local newspapers, community publications and culture websites, too. While they may offer access to more of a ‘catch all’ audience, you never know who you might reach. To expand your list of recipients, consider gathering names and contact details in the following ways:
- Become a master of LinkedIn – remember – the more connections you have, the bigger your network will be – look out for free trials of Premium accounts, too.
- Use sites like email-format.com to search for email addresses based on company web addresses.
- Don’t forget your local business directory.
- Attend industry networking evenings and keep those business cards for future reference.
How to sell in your story
Once you’ve gathered a list of potential publishers and contact details, get on the phone! It’s much easier to get someone’s attention when you’re talking with them – emails can easily be ignored.
Journalists and editors, particularly those who may receive a high number of calls, can be busy people and you may only have a matter of seconds to spark their interest. Get to the point of your story in a matter of seconds, by introducing yourself and summarising your story in a sentence or two. Then, if their interest is piqued you will be given the go-ahead to go into further detail.
Don’t try and recount every detail over the phone, say you will send them the full information by email, and send them over your press release and a covering email. Always make sure to include your contact information so it is easy for them to follow up if they have any questions. It can be worth putting in another phone call the following day to ask if they were indeed interested in using your story. Once you’ve got a bite, be prepared for them to reshape your story or even just use a quote from you within another piece they’re writing. After all, even the smallest bit of publicity is good publicity!
Once you have your next piece of PR planned, the next step is spreading the word. If you’re planning an event, send a press release out to local media in good time for it to appear in whatever publication you are targeting. If you’ve had some interesting company news or are launching a new product, send out a press release to target the relevant audience.
CLICK HERE to read our last article around PR and top 5 things to think about when building your PR strategy.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.