How Good Public Relations Can Benefit Your Business
In a brand new guest blog, Jessica Pilkington from PR firm Pilkington Communications shares a handful of top tips to help you generate some positive PR for yourself.
So, what is Public Relations (PR)?
PR, put simply, is all about how people perceive you. It’s about sending the right messages to the right places and the right people. Time and time again business leaders rate a company's reputation as its most valuable asset.
A great reputation will help you gain advantage over your competitors. You’ll be able to attract the best recruits, increase your leads, boost your sales, widen your consumer base and even protect yourself during times of crisis and challenge.
Now we know why PR is important, how do we go about doing it?
First up, write a checklist:
Do your research
The press releases you want the media to cover
What kind of social media you can plan to ‘big up’ your new stories
How you will measure the success of this PR
Plan of Action
Know what you want to say and, most importantly, to whom. What are your USPs, strengths and benefits? How do you want people to see your business?
Create a PR & Content Calendar template for the year ahead - to map out your annual, quarterly, weekly and daily content, events and actions.
The format is up to you. Excel will do the trick, although some people swear by Google Sheets which makes it easy for the whole team to update and input (without the need for multiple new drafts having to be saved).
Research is the key
Which publications/types of media would you most like to get into? Which ones are your customers, your stakeholders and your potential customers reading, downloading, viewing?
Magazines, for example, tend to have publication editorial calendars: This may take time, but you won’t regret it. Start with your media wish list – those journalists and publications/ TV or radio stations you want to target. Then get in touch, make sure you have a list of all their deadlines, publication dates and whether they have any forward planning calendars. Most magazines, for example, plan their feature themes a year in advance so you will want to add this information to your PR & Content Calendar.
Think press releases
Before you start writing make sure you have a news-worthy hook. Remember, if you send something that is too salesy to a journalist they will simply pass it on to their advertising department.
To get free coverage you need to put yourselves in the shoes of the journalist and create a story with a press angle.
It can be daunting and can definitely take time to master, but here are a few top tips to get you started.
A press release needs a punchy headline, clear messages, jargon free text, honesty and precision. It is essentially a written statement to the media.
Remember, journalists are more likely to consider featuring and using your story if you make their life as easy as possible – by writing a press release with a genuine, strong editorial angle that is written well and in the style of the publication you are targeting.
Short and sweet, avoid waffle and get straight to the point, including a punchy headline
Think pictures – always aim to include a photo and make sure you caption it
Don’t over punctuate - content should be interesting enough without punctuation or exclamation marks
Don’t be subjective – no opinion should be expressed (keep opinion for your blogs) unless it is within a quotation (from a business spokesperson)
Think timing - the timing of the press release is very important. It must be relevant and recent news, not too old and not too distant.
Include a ‘Call to Action’ - this is details on what you want the public to do with the information that you are releasing. For example, do you want them to buy a product? If so, include information on where the product is available. Do you want them to visit your website to enter a contest or learn more about your organisation? If so, include the web address or a phone number
PR is not just about press coverage, it also encompasses social media – a key means to building and maintaining your brand reputation.
One of the main challenges of social media is that it can seriously suck you dry of time. Think strategically. You don’t need to be on all channels, you don’t need to be posting every day. Also, not all your posts and tweets should be sales related. Social media – the hint is in the name – is all about being social.
If you have been successful with your press release and you are featured in an online magazine, for example, make sure you follow that publication from your own channels. Plan a few posts that link to your media coverage. Thank the journalist – and tag them and/or the publication in – for the support. A thank you can go a long way to helping you secure more coverage in the future.
You’ve done all this work, but how do you know it has been time well spent?
Firstly, it is crucial to track any PR coverage you might have achieved and share this to further strengthen your brand’s reputation. Most PR agencies invest in a professional media monitoring service but this is pricey. For those who can’t or don’t want to invest several thousand pounds in media monitoring software, Google alerts is a free, if limited, alternative.
It's pretty simple. Log on, enter a keyword (your company name for example) and Google will notify you when this keyword is mentioned online.
Secondly, it’s essential you measure the success of your PR. By this I mean the ‘so what?’ question. You’ve done the work, secured some wonderful press coverage. What happens next? The answer to that is ‘What do you want to happen next?’
Make sure you include a call to action in your press releases so that your readers/viewers do something with the information you have shared with them. This could be picking up the telephone, downloading something from your website, booking a ticket for your event, placing an order, following you on social media.
And finally …
Keen to start cracking on with your own PR? For a few more tips and suggested next steps download a free PR Toolkit, courtesy of Pilkington Communications. Simply visit our website and fill in the short online form. The Toolkit will then arrive swiftly in your inbox.
Good luck everyone, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any pointers or advice.