5 Steps to Delivering Public Relations
Whether you call it Press Relations or Public Relations, PR can be an effective source of free publicity for your business. Or, it can be a huge waste of time and energy that makes you look like an attention seeking amateur.
Here are five simple guidelines to keep you on the right side of the journalists’ sensibilities and make the most of your PR efforts.
1. Have a plan
Set time aside for PR, and make it a regular part of your schedule. Take the time to brainstorm PR ideas, write your release, deliver it in a timely manner, and allow time to deal with any follow up enquiries.
A rushed press release with inaccurate or incomplete information that doesn’t follow industry standards won’t win you any contacts. If you do pique an editor’s interest, though, you’ll need to be ready to answer questions and available for interview, so build that time into your plan.
Remember journalists tend to work on tight deadlines and respond to them quickly to avoid them losing interest. If you don’t have the information they ask for, let them know and give an estimate how long it will take to find out. Even if they have to go with an alternative story this time round, they’ll remember your professionalism and look more favourably on anything you send in the future.
2. Do your homework
That means not only checking the facts you include in your press release are accurate, but researching your markets. Look at the kind of material a publication prints and match your press release to that, rather than taking a scatter gun approach and hoping something sticks somewhere. Don’t just send a press release to the general editor, think about the departments and see where your news is a good fit. Then find out the name of the editor of that department and send your release to them.
3. Deliver newsworthy copy
While you should always have a generic press release ready to send out to anyone who asks for background information on your business, that’s not the one you want to send to journalists and editors.
Think about your business from an outside perspective. Unless you’ve developed a revolutionary new product (really revolutionary, not just a new design or minor upgrade) or made a major scientific breakthrough, chances are your business news isn’t newsworthy. Look at the human interest angle instead. Do you raise money for charity or support a local cause? That’s more likely to get you attention. If you can’t make real news of your own, you might be able to tie in to other news, offering an inside perspective on current affairs. An example might be a butcher explaining how horse meat could have infiltrated the supply chain when the horse meat scandal in Europe was at its height.
4. Make it personal
You can’t do this if you haven’t researched your markets, but if you have, this is the stage where your PR efforts can really pay off. We’re not talking just about addressing your release too the journalist or editor by name, but framing your news in the best light for each publication.
Yes, it takes time to rewrite your release for different journalists, changing the emphasis and phraseology to suit the publications’ readers. If you want to get noticed, though, providing a journalist with a release they can quickly turn into a finished article with minimum effort is the way to go.
5. Don’t take it personally
When you send out your release, don’t sit by the phone waiting for feedback. It’s okay to make a follow up call and offer to answer questions. If you do, though, always ask if it’s a god time to talk, or if you should call back later. Journalists and editors work under enormous pressure, with seemingly endless demands on their time and attention, so don’t expect idle chit chat, and don’t try to turn them into bosom buddies over the phone. Keep it short and to the point.
Above all, don’t take it personally if they aren’t interested or can’t use your piece. Even if your piece is good and newsworthy, and the journalist shows interest, the article may never make it to print. Don’t take it out on your contact, who has just put as much if not more effort into the piece to see it cut. Instead, come up with another angle or suggestion and keep plugging away at it. Because when it works, good free publicity can give your business a boost like nothing else.