If we had a pound for every time we heard someone say ‘but there’s nothing newsworthy about us’, ‘who’d be interested in reading about me’, or ‘I wouldn’t know what to say’….well yes, we’d be very well off!
And the fact of the matter is, it simply isn’t true. Everyone has a story – several stories – to tell and public relations, or PR, is all about getting those stories out into the world to help build your brand.
Granted, there can be a bit of an art to teasing them out of you, especially if you can often be heard uttering one of the sentences above.
In this article therefore, we’ll tell you a bit more about public relations and where it fits into the marketing mix – and give you some practical examples to help you start thinking about how you can prepare a successful PR strategy.
What is public relations?
PR is all about managing how your business or brand is portrayed to the public, and in particular, the media. It aims to share news and information about your company in a way that builds your credibility, raises awareness of who you are and what you stand for and ultimately, promote your business in a way that makes people want to buy from you.
You might also hear it referred to as ‘earned’ media, rather than ‘paid’ media. That is coverage you’ve earned because you’ve put forward an interesting and newsworthy item, rather than it being something you’ve had to pay for.
This gives it a higher level of credibility – being quoted in an article in a broadsheet newspaper, or your main industry magazine on a current event, for example, is likely to give your reputation a bigger boost than an advert you’ve placed in the same publication.
PR is also about managing relationships with the people in positions of influence in this area, which will often be journalists, bloggers, vloggers, radio/TV presenters, or more recently to add to the mix, influencers. It could be partner organisations or peer groups who you might seek to establish mutually beneficial relationships with.
Depending on your business or industry, there might also be an element of media relations or even crisis communications involved. This could be needed if you deal in potentially controversial issues that need managing with sensitivity.
Here public relations is designed to protect and enhance your company’s reputation as much as possible through activities such as carefully considering what your key messages are, sharing that through your business, co-ordinating responses to the media and prepping spokespeople for interview.
How does public relations fit into the marketing mix?
If you’ve had a look around our website, you’ll probably have picked up on the fact that there are many elements to a successful overall marketing strategy.
For example, let’s say you’ve invested thousands in a paid digital campaign. A potential customer sees your advert, but nowadays they don’t go and buy from you straight away. They’ll turn to the internet to do their independent research first.
They’re looking for news, reviews, blogs, industry mentions, quotes – anything that gives them the confidence they need to buy.
Therefore, investing in public relations activity will not only help boost the return on your advertising spend, it will also generate income and sales in its own right.
Creating a PR strategy
As with all things marketing, consistency is key. It’s no good writing one press release, sending it out, being lucky enough to gain some coverage and thinking that’s job done. It isn’t.
PR is something to keep at constantly, so that you’re always in the news, always in the position of authority and soon becoming that go-to person for the journalist at your target publication.
So what does a PR strategy involve?
- The first thing to do is identify who/what you want to target. Aim for the places your customers are; the publications they’re reading, the You Tubers they’re following, the podcast they’re listening to.
- You’ll also want to set some goals for your PR. Sometimes it’s simply about gaining new customers, but PR could have a more subtle goal, such as establishing yourself as an eco-friendly business or as a great company to work for if recruitment is your goal.
- You might have different content to aim at different publications depending on the sectors you work in, so make sure you’re thinking about all angles.
- Research those publications, ask for their forward feature plans to see if you have any topics you can pitch, get a feel for the sort of news items they cover.
- Think about what you have coming up in your business over the next 12 months that could be newsworthy on its own, and then do some wider research about what’s going in the world/your industry that you can add some useful insight to.
PR activities for your business
There are a variety of PR activities to consider for your business. For example:
- Press releases in newspapers, trades publications, websites
- Pitching to feature on an industry-related podcast
- Finding bloggers or vloggers in your space and approaching them to collaborate
- Offering your products to influencers to try (although be prepared this can very quickly slip into paid rather than earned media – but it can be highly effective!)
- Radio and TV
- Finding relevant organisations to team up with so you can share each other’s news
- Linkedin collaborations
- Putting yourself forward as a spokesperson to react to wider news stories that are relevant to your industry – for example you’re an asbestos removal firm and new stats reveal a rise in asbestos-related deaths
What is a newsworthy topic?
A decent press release might centre around a human interest story, it could take the form of top tips, it could be a case study that others would find interesting, it could be a response to a general or industry-specific news story. In other words, it needs a hook. A hook might also be an awareness day, the release of new statistics, a subject that is trending that you can add value to.
Here are some ideas:
- Interesting business back story, overcoming adversity or obstacles to succeed, or end up in the unlikeliest of businesses
- General business news – milestone growth, milestone anniversary, fundraising challenge, expansion, raising awareness of grants, eco targets achieved, interesting staff stories, new offices, supporting the local economy
- Initiatives to tie in with awareness raising days
- Gathering your own research to create interesting survey results
- Top tip articles, listicles, how-to articles
The opportunities are endless, the trick is spotting them. There are also various places you can search to see what journalists are looking for, or to add yourself to a database of people who can comment on specific subjects.
The cumulative effect of doing this consistently, alongside your other marketing activities, will really help to raise the profile of your brand.
It is time consuming and it is an art form, but that’s what we’re here for. We help many businesses with their PR strategies across a variety of sectors.
Get in touch to find out more by clicking here.