Okay - so you are still looking for ways to jump start and reinvent your business...or perhaps you are happy with your growth? If you are like any of the business folks we deal with - there is no such thing as "too much growth". A solid consistent public relations strategy can help you do just that.
To that end we want to help with your Public Relations strategies. What better time to plan for your PR activities than now, before it gets too busy. This month we start with PR 101 - back to basics. We hope you enjoy the series.
What is PR and why would you consider this as part of your marketing initiatives?
Public Relations (PR) includes on-going activities to ensure that a company has a strong public image. PR activities include helping the public to understand the company and its products. Often, PR is conducted through the media, which includes newspapers, television, radio, magazines, and internet. PR is often considered one of the primary activities included in marketing plans.
Similar to effective advertising and promotions, effective PR often depends on designing and implementing a well-designed PR plan. The plan often includes a description of the message you want to convey, to whom you plan to convey it, who is responsible for various activities and by when, and how much money is budgeted to fund these activities. Similar to advertising and promotions, a media plan and calendar can be very useful as these tools specify what media methods are used and when.
When developing your PR plan, consider:
What groups of target audiences, investors, partners, customers and employees do you want to appeal to and how?
What impression do you want each of your stakeholders to have about you and your company?
What communications media do your target audiences see or prefer the most?
What media is most practical for you to use in terms of access and affordability (time commitment to reach them)?
What messages are most appealing to each stakeholder group?
In using PR to reach out to the media, your job is to "earn media coverage" by supplying information that is factual, interesting, timely, and (especially) newsworthy so that journalists will believe that your material will be of interest to their audience. We use the words "earn media coverage" because no media coverage is guaranteed.
What does Media want?
News - not advertising
An event / happening that will impact a majority
Anticipation created in the minds of their audience
An opportunity to influence public opinion
What makes news?
A recent event / happening that will impact the audience of a particular media vehicle (newspaper, magazine, TV station, radio station, on-line news service). For example - everywhere in the world media are covering new security standards at the airport. With most airports not allowing carry-on luggage, many are forced to check their laptop computers. A great media pitch to tie-in to this coverage is for computer security experts to give tips and tricks for keeping your laptop safe, password protected and encrypted, in case this huge source of information goes astray. Hotels and toiletry companies are offering free mouthwash, toothpaste, hairspray etc., upon check-in. This is "tying into" current events - in a big way.
The truth - unadulterated and without garnish
The start of a series - offers continuity and holds interest
Trends, statistics, facts, projections - not assumptions
"Star" value - endorsements, testimonials, and/or the involvement of celebrities
Money - investments, profits, losses, financial stories
Human interest stories, community projects, charitable activities, health stories, holiday events
Controversy - debates, fraudulent business practices, trials, provocative stories
Why should I consider PR to help my business?
Publicity is not advertising since you don't pay for the time or space. It can have far greater impact than advertising because it carries a message of implied endorsement by the media that runs your story. When your stakeholders (investors, customers and employees) read the editorial or news coverage you have obtained, publicity has far greater impact than placing an ad.
However, because you don't pay for the information being publicized, you can't control what is actually said about you and your company.
A lot of people think publicity happens magically, or that opportunities simply appear. They don't realize that there is effort behind it. They don't know that reporters can do whatever they want with the information you divulge.
There are many behind-the-scenes conversations, relationship building, and groundwork that must be laid to get your message out into the world. Can you do this work? Absolutely, but you must focus on it to make it work effectively.
If you have been in the media once - don't always expect incredible results (it is rare - unless you are on a major talk show - like Oprah). PR is a process - you need to cut through the clutter of some 30,000 messages that we are bombarded with daily. One media clip in a local paper won't have the sustainability you need to build brand awareness. Your effort needs to be consistent and on-going - then and only then will you realize the fruits that great PR can give you.
But what results! We have seen it with our clients - and now we want to show you how.
Leanne Bucaro, co-CEO of Infinity Communications, is a public relations professional with more than 15 years of experience in communications and media.
Visit her website