Public relations (PR) helps a business or individual build up a positive image with the public through unpaid (earned) communications – typically traditional media, social media and speaking at events. PR also comes into force when defending a business’s reputation during a crisis that may threaten their credibility.
PR is one of the most effective way to build on marketing strategies and create a solid reputation. Enhancing your business’s reputation makes it more likely that customers will find their way to your door.
With marketing budgets coming under increasing pressure post lockdown, we have put together this quick basic guide to PR to help you raise awareness for your business:
Where to start?
The first step is to set your PR goals. What are you looking to achieve from a PR plan? The most common goals would be to raise awareness of the brand and build a reputation amongst consumers.
Who are you looking to target the PR campaign at? It is vital to consider your target market carefully. The media landscape is vast – particularly when global markets are brought into the mix. Once you have identified your target market you can then start selecting the best media to reach them. Create a media target list that best reaches your audience. Consider the following areas of media:
- Consumer/Industry press
- Printed magazines/newspapers
- Online websites/Industry influencers
- Social media
Aim to keep your media list as targeted as possible, carefully considering whether each contact is relevant. Spend time doing research – obtain each title’s media packs which details the reach of the title and breaks down the demographic of its audience. Be aware that this list will be subject to change – media contacts move around frequently, and new titles are continually launching into the market.
Build up a solid bank of media contacts relevant to your industry. Depending on who you plan to target this should include consumer and industry press. The media landscape has changed beyond recognition over recent years with the media focus now shifting online with influencers becoming increasingly important, however printed media still remains a vital route to reaching consumers as well as industry contacts so should be considered within any media targeting list.
Once you have identified the key personnel, forging relationships can be hugely beneficial to securing media coverage. Earned media is the hardest type of media to obtain, it takes a lot of effort, hard work and consistency, however it is arguably the most effective PR tactic. If successful it will boost the conversations around your brand and as it will be coming from an objective source, audiences are more likely to listen to it.
Once you have established a media target list, a press release is the most cost-effective way to relay information about a product launch or news story to the press, and ultimately the public. However, with most media contacts being bombarded with press releases on a daily basis, here are five key tips to ensure your press release stand out from the crowd:
1. Make sure your story is newsworthy. It is important to consider whether anyone outside the organization cares about this announcement. Is this story relevant AND interesting to your target audience?
2. Keep the release focused, honest and on brand. Journalists get hundreds of emails and press releases every day so it’s important to keep the press release to the point. The ideal length of a press release is about 300-400 words – split into around three or four short paragraphs and a couple of quotes. It is also important that the formatting of the release and the copy reflects the tone and style of the brand. Within the copy if any claims are made these must always be truthful and backed up by evidence. To make a visual impact a relevant image should be included (be aware though of the image size).
3. Use quotations to reinforce your main point. Journalists like to back up any feature with a quote so the press release should contain a quote which sounds like something a real person would say without any technical language, the person quoted should also be someone prepared to answer any further media questions.
4. Identify who is most likely to pick up your story. An up-to-date media contact list is key. If you are part of a small targeted industry it is possible to create and manage your own media contact list, however for larger global industries it might be worth considering using a dedicated company who provide databases which are constantly reviewed and updated.
5. Go above and beyond. Once a press release has been sent out, follow up with a select number of journalists or influencers you have identified and send them a direct message about your release. It is a good idea to paste your release into the body of the email beneath a short summary, making it easy for journalists to quickly understand what your story is about (and whether they are interested in learning more). Include images or links to videos that provide more details, but it is best to avoid sending attachments to avoid clogging up inboxes or ending up in spam folders.
Winning an award is undoubtedly a fantastic way of raising your business’s profile as well as boosting your reputation amongst consumers and peers. It can also be a very effective way of increasing morale amongst employees. However, It is important to be mindful that the awards entry process often taking considerable time and resource, plus there is the high associated costs with entering / attending awards so it is recommended to carefully weigh up the overall costs versus the benefits before entering an award.
Industry conferences / seminars
Speaking at a relevant industry event and sharing your latest company insights with peers is an effective way of securing positive feeling towards your business, elevating your profile within a very targeted environment and raising credibility amongst peers. However, it should be noted that these opportunities often come at a price and can be extremely competitive to tricky to secure – this is where good media relations can come in very handy!
Building positive relationships with the local community around your business. This could include charity work, exclusive discounts or anything that builds a strong relationship with the community and strengthens customer loyalty.
Corporate and social responsibility
Corporate and social responsibility focuses on ethical business practices and environmental responsibility. Over recent years this has become a major focal point for the media, and consumers now take an active interest in how businesses fare in this area, leading to it becoming a critical area of PR as it directly affects public perception of your brand.
While this is not an exhaustive list, these are the most important areas to consider when creating your PR strategy. The amount of focus placed on each will depend on what you are looking to achieve as well as the time and resource you have available as a business to dedicate to actioning the strategy.
If you would like to start raising the profile of your business with a PR strategy, but don’t have the time on your hands to do so, please get in touch. We would love to help.