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What is PR?

PR means Public Relations.

No matter the size of a company, whether big or small, reputation is key to survival and success.

Everyone that comes into contact with a business has an opinion about it.

It could be good or bad.

It could also be correct or based on wrong information. No matter which, these opinions will decide if people want do business with a company.

Effective PR management can help manage the perception people have about a company by building strong relationships with various stakeholders.

Why should I have a PR strategy?

If you want to promote your business you need to put a strategy in place.

Having a strategy will help target your communications to the right audience and the right contacts at the right time.

How can I develop a PR Strategy?

Generally speaking you have two options, working with experts to guide you through the process or developing one yourself.

If you’re planning on developing a strategy yourself you need to look at the following areas:

Target audience

When you create a strategy think about who you are trying to reach. This is vital. Without knowing who your target audience is your PR activities will not reach the people you need it to and will likely not be very successful.

Develop your key message

Key messages are the main points you want your target audience to hear. Examples of a key message could be that your business is seen as a trusted expert in their field or are synonymous with quality.

Target the right journalists and publications

It should be fairly obvious that if you, as an example, operate in the retail sector you wouldn’t contact a travel journalist. By contacting the right journalists at the right publications you maximise the opportunity to reach your target audience and you can then develop a positive relationship for the long term with a journalist and their publication.

Have a goal and a time in which to achieve it

It is important to have a goal. You need to know what you want to achieve. This provides you with a clear purpose for your PR strategy. By setting a time-frame you know when you expect to achieve your goal.

Measure success

This is how you will know if you’re on track to achieve the goals you’ve set and to know if your strategy is working.

Effective communication

Having a clear strategy will enable you to focus on the message you want to get across. By embracing your strategy you will find that you have a consistent message which will help your strategy succeed.

What different kinds of PR strategies are there?

Whilst not exhaustive, there are generally three strategies you could employ:

Contact Journalists and publications

Contact Journalists and publications and try to convince them to cover your story. Having a clear goal in mind will enable you to measure the success of this.

Market through influencers (people your target audience listen to and like)

This could be a blogger or even a celebrity. By getting them to talk about you to their audience on social media for example will bring great benefits to you PR strategy.

Market directly to your customers

As the the internet and social media in particular has developed we now have more data about what people like and more tools than ever at our disposal to reach our target audiences. This has become one of the most effective ways to reach audiences.

What are the benefits of having a good PR strategy?

The benefits of having a good PR strategy in place is that you will control public perception of you. That means that the message you get out to your target audience gives the best representation of who you are and what you do..

I’ve had bad PR before, what should I do?

Bad publicity is the last thing any business wants or needs. But the way in which you respond determines if the outcome hurts you or could be turned around to help you.

Plan and prepare

You can’t assume bad publicity will never come your way.

You have to be prepared and have a plan in place for just such an event.

This means that you will be in control of the situation and can stop a bad situation escalating.

Manage the situation

Complaints about a product or service can quickly become a news story if you don’t deal with it properly and quickly.

Always answer complaints and/or bad press coverage quickly, politely and always, always, always be honest.

Communicate

Communication is key.

Keep talking to the press, suppliers, staff and customers. Keep them informed. If it is your fault own up to it and apologise.

Never say “No comment” it sends out the wrong signals and suggests you’re in the wrong and don’t feel bad about the situation.

Ensure that employees do not speak to the press without expressed permission. Only those authorised to speak should speak to the press.

In many cases being upfront, honest and apologetic can show your company in a good light.

The public are very forgiving and if you own the situation and show how you will make things better you can turn a negative situation into a long term positive.

What can PR do to help me promote a great product/service?

PR can help you get the right message about your great product or service to the right audience.

Simple really.

What can PR do for a small business?

One of the fundamental things that PR can do for a small business is to provide exposure.

As long as you have a plan in place and execute it correctly with clear goals in mind your small business could reach a much larger audience.

You could gain much needed exposure in your marketplace.

More interest in you could fundamentally transform your earning potential.

I’ve already got a good public profile, why do I need a PR strategy at all?

Because you never know what might happen next.

Your entire industry could be tainted by bad publicity (think the banking crisis of 2008 and the damage to their reputations all financial institutions endured).

Therefore you must have a plan in place.

What are the most effective PR strategies?

The landscape is always changing so you need to be aware of emerging PR trends.

But if you’re looking for inspiration here are few examples of effective PR strategies:

Teaming up with influencers

Bloggers, celebrities, anyone who has a large audience really.

Word of mouth is great and having an influencer shout about you and your products or services gives you third party credibility.

Think of it as like a seal of approval.

Don’t just advertise, create content

Whilst advertising is great, you can really make a connection with your audience through effective content marketing.

People choose what content they consume now. That means you have to produce effective and engaging content.

It could be a short video on Twitter or a blog about what you’re up to.

The key is to tell a relevant story.

Press exclusive

It’s a good old fashioned way of getting your message out and also ensuring you have control of the message.

Different than simply issuing a press release, by offering an exclusive you could land an earned editorial or a feature.

Traditional press outlets and publications can still give third party credibility even in today’s digital age.

What makes a good press release?

There are a couple of key things you need to write an effective press release:

Is it newsworthy?

Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is there anything new in my story?

    • Is there anything unusual?

    • Is this interesting to other people?

    • Will anyone care?

You have to try and find a way to answer yes to at least three of these four questions.

Think about the angle you take that ticks all the boxes.

Write a good headline

Journalists get hundreds of emails pitching stories and providing press releases. So include “press release” in the subject line and write an eye-catching headline.

Nail the “top line”

Journalists will decide in seconds if they will read on or move onto the next email. So write a 15-20 word “top line” at the beginning of the email.

This should summarise the story in a concise sentence, like the opening line of a news report.

This is where the “five Ws” come in (who, what, where, why and when). Journalists are taught to put as many of the “five Ws” into an opening line as possible. So think in those terms too.

A great tip is to imagine a newsreader saying “And next..” then how you’d like them to describe your story.

Be concise

300-400 words is sufficient.

Think about keeping it to one side of A4 paper. Be conscious of waffle. Four short paragraphs with a couple quotes will do the trick.

Ensure the quotes provide insight and not information. A bad example would be “last year, we grew our sales force and expanded into new markets.”

Make sure you sound like a human being and give opinion and insight. Avoid jargon.

Be aware not to fall into the trap of putting a bio of your company in the article. You can include further information at the bottom of the press release in the “notes to the editor”.

Be realistic

Always be ambitious and never fear sending your press release to a big publication.

But remember that journalists are bombarded with press releases. Don’t be upset if yours is overlooked.

A bit of chasing and determination can go a long way to helping you land the coverage you’re looking for.

Can I do my own PR, or do I need an agency?

Of course you can, but it takes time and effort.

Look through our other PR tips and work out a plan.

Equally an agency can help save you time and provide the expertise and guidance to ensure your strategy is a success.

You can bring in an agency to consult with you, guiding you through developing your strategy or you can outsource your PR activities to them entirely.

The choice is really up to you and what is right for you and your business.

What PR activities should I consider?

There are a number of PR activities you should consider including:

 

Press releases

Sending well written press releases to newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television stations to name but a few will help you to gain attention in a number of mainstream media outlets.

Influential bloggers

If there are any influential bloggers who post content either about your industry or who your target audience follow then you should contact them to see if they would be willing to review or promote your products. Some will do this for free if they feel their audience would benefit from your product or service however some bloggers will charge for this service.

Newsletters

Regular newsletters are a great way to promote your products or services to a targeted audience. You should look to include information about your business, interviews from key people, product information and testimonials from clients.

Supporting local causes

Supporting local charities, causes and events are a great way to promote your business and gather content for press releases whilst doing something great for the local community.

Sponsorship

Sponsoring local charities, causes and events are a great way to promote your business and gather content for press releases whilst doing something great for the local community.

Speaking engagements

Arranging to be a guest speaker at local schools, universities, networking events or local community initiatives (to name but a few) will not only show your dedication to the local community but also give you the opportunity to gain contacts with influential people in your local area.

Events/Functions

Organising special events to promote the benefits your business, products and services bring to your target audience will give you the opportunity to develop relationships with your customers face to face whilst also making you stand out from your competitors. Don’t forget to invite the local press!

Open days

If suitable for your business, open days are a cost effective way to give people a glimpse into your business whilst giving something back to the local community. You could invite students from local schools, colleges or universities so they can find out about the different job opportunities that are available in your industry.

Communicate with your employees

Is sounds simple and yet many companies do not regularly communicate with their employees. Letting your employees know about what is happening in your business, your latest events, product launches etc. will not only make them feel more valued but they will also become advocates for your brand and tell people about your business via word of mouth and social media for free.

How do I get coverage in local, national and trade press?

There are a number of things you can do to gain coverage in local, national and trade press:

• Look at the types of stories featured in the publications you want to be featured and then send them content you know they wll be interested in.

• With that being said try to make your story different and special.

• Build relationships with the journalsits and editors you send your content to.

• Always send your press releases to a named person where possible rather than a generic inbox.

• Avoid contacting journalists and editors only when you want you want something. Seek out some of their work and let them know about the articles you like or use them as a conversationg starter. They will aprpreicate the time you have taken to notice their work and they will remember you over others.

• Local press usually focus on covering stories from their area so make sure you mention your location wihtin the first few lines of your story.

• National and trade press are bombarded with content so you need to make sure yours really stands out.

• Create press packs that you can send on to the publications you are targeting.

How often should I produce press releases?

You need to remain fresh in your audience’s mind so you would ideally want to send out three press releases per month, providing that you have something valuable to say. Journalists and editors will quickly stop replying to you if you send them content that is of no use to them.

What audiences should my PR be aimed at?

It sounds simple but the audiences you are looking to target.

Look at your customer profiles and create a list with the most important at the top.

Start by sending out content that targets the audience that you think will give you the highest return on your investment.

Then send this content to publications that will reach that audience.

What follow up should I do on press releases?

This can be tricky as you do not want to be bombarding your contacts with questions about your press releases but at the same time you want to be at the forefront of their mind.

Always have a reason for your follow up communication beyond the status of your press release.

It may be that you want to discuss an article of theirs you have read or that you have more information that you would llike to give them.

Not only will this give you an opprtunity to further develop your relationship with the journalist but they will also be more receptive to hearing from you.

What are the first steps in finding the right PR agency?

PR is about you and your brand so it is vital that you find a company who will not only take the time to understand you, your business and your customers but also be able to effectively communicate your vision.

Before you start looking for a PR agency ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are your PR objectives?

2. What experience will a PR agency need to achieve these objectives?

3. Who is your target audience?

4. What is the culture like in your business?

5. How do you like to communicate?

6. What would you classify as PR success?

Then use the answers to these questions to create your ideal PR agency profile and use this to create a shortlist of agencies to contact.

How can I get good PR for free?

There are two ways you can get good PR for free:

• Write great content

• Build relationships with the right people

Both will require you to invest a lot of time and effort in order to succeed.

Be realistic and ask yourself if you would be better off hiring someone to do it for you.

What is the difference between PR and marketing?

The main difference between PR and marketing is that marketing is focused on promoting and selling a companies product or service whereas PR is focused on maintaining the positive reputation the company has.

There are a number of other differences including:

• Marketing focuses on sales wheras PR focuses on goals and objectives

• Marketing targets customer needs to sell products and services wheras PR targets customers to support company objectives

• Marketing focuses on paid advertising whereas PR focuses on free advertising

• Marketing is in general a short term activity wheras PR is a long term investment

With this being said, with the rise of social media and content marketing the lines are becoming increasingly blurred, as traditional sales focused marketing is becoming increasingly ineffective.

The key to success is therefore not to focus on the differences between marketing and PR but rather on how you can use them together to help you to succeed in meeting your goals.

How will we know if our PR strategy is working?

There are a number of ways for you to know if your PR strategy is working including an increase in:

 

• Press coverage

• Website page views

• Unique visitors to your website

• Enquiries

• Customers

• Sales

• Downloads

• Leads

• Requests for info

• Social media followers and engage

• Content sharing

• Customer engagement

What is PR success?

PR success will mean something different for each of us depending on your company goals.

Your focus should not be on success or failure but on how you can use PR to grow and evolve your business to meet your goals.

Can’t find the answer you are looking for?

Send us your question today!

PR Q&A mobile banner

What is PR?

PR means Public Relations.

No matter the size of a company, whether big or small, reputation is key to survival and success.

Everyone that comes into contact with a business has an opinion about it.

It could be good or bad.

It could also be correct or based on wrong information. No matter which, these opinions will decide if people want do business with a company.

Effective PR management can help manage the perception people have about a company by building strong relationships with various stakeholders.

Why should I have a PR strategy?

If you want to promote your business you need to put a strategy in place.

Having a strategy will help target your communications to the right audience and the right contacts at the right time.

How can I develop a PR Strategy?

Generally speaking you have two options, working with experts to guide you through the process or developing one yourself.

If you’re planning on developing a strategy yourself you need to look at the following areas:

Target audience

When you create a strategy think about who you are trying to reach. This is vital. Without knowing who your target audience is your PR activities will not reach the people you need it to and will likely not be very successful.

Develop your key message

Key messages are the main points you want your target audience to hear. Examples of a key message could be that your business is seen as a trusted expert in their field or are synonymous with quality.

Target the right journalists and publications

It should be fairly obvious that if you, as an example, operate in the retail sector you wouldn’t contact a travel journalist. By contacting the right journalists at the right publications you maximise the opportunity to reach your target audience and you can then develop a positive relationship for the long term with a journalist and their publication.

Have a goal and a time in which to achieve it

It is important to have a goal. You need to know what you want to achieve. This provides you with a clear purpose for your PR strategy. By setting a time-frame you know when you expect to achieve your goal.

Measure success

This is how you will know if you’re on track to achieve the goals you’ve set and to know if your strategy is working.

Effective communication

Having a clear strategy will enable you to focus on the message you want to get across. By embracing your strategy you will find that you have a consistent message which will help your strategy succeed.

What different kinds of PR strategies are there?

Whilst not exhaustive, there are generally three strategies you could employ:

Contact Journalists and publications

Contact Journalists and publications and try to convince them to cover your story. Having a clear goal in mind will enable you to measure the success of this.

Market through influencers (people your target audience listen to and like)

This could be a blogger or even a celebrity. By getting them to talk about you to their audience on social media for example will bring great benefits to you PR strategy.

Market directly to your customers

As the the internet and social media in particular has developed we now have more data about what people like and more tools than ever at our disposal to reach our target audiences. This has become one of the most effective ways to reach audiences.

What are the benefits of having a good PR strategy?

The benefits of having a good PR strategy in place is that you will control public perception of you. That means that the message you get out to your target audience gives the best representation of who you are and what you do..

I’ve had bad PR before, what should I do?

Bad publicity is the last thing any business wants or needs. But the way in which you respond determines if the outcome hurts you or could be turned around to help you.

Plan and prepare

You can’t assume bad publicity will never come your way.

You have to be prepared and have a plan in place for just such an event.

This means that you will be in control of the situation and can stop a bad situation escalating.

Manage the situation

Complaints about a product or service can quickly become a news story if you don’t deal with it properly and quickly.

Always answer complaints and/or bad press coverage quickly, politely and always, always, always be honest.

Communicate

Communication is key.

Keep talking to the press, suppliers, staff and customers. Keep them informed. If it is your fault own up to it and apologise.

Never say “No comment” it sends out the wrong signals and suggests you’re in the wrong and don’t feel bad about the situation.

Ensure that employees do not speak to the press without expressed permission. Only those authorised to speak should speak to the press.

In many cases being upfront, honest and apologetic can show your company in a good light.

The public are very forgiving and if you own the situation and show how you will make things better you can turn a negative situation into a long term positive.

What can PR do to help me promote a great product/service?

PR can help you get the right message about your great product or service to the right audience.

Simple really.

What can PR do for a small business?

One of the fundamental things that PR can do for a small business is to provide exposure.

As long as you have a plan in place and execute it correctly with clear goals in mind your small business could reach a much larger audience.

You could gain much needed exposure in your marketplace.

More interest in you could fundamentally transform your earning potential.

I’ve already got a good public profile, why do I need a PR strategy at all?

Because you never know what might happen next.

Your entire industry could be tainted by bad publicity (think the banking crisis of 2008 and the damage to their reputations all financial institutions endured).

Therefore you must have a plan in place.

What are the most effective PR strategies?

The landscape is always changing so you need to be aware of emerging PR trends.

But if you’re looking for inspiration here are few examples of effective PR strategies:

Teaming up with influencers

Bloggers, celebrities, anyone who has a large audience really.

Word of mouth is great and having an influencer shout about you and your products or services gives you third party credibility.

Think of it as like a seal of approval.

Don’t just advertise, create content

Whilst advertising is great, you can really make a connection with your audience through effective content marketing.

People choose what content they consume now. That means you have to produce effective and engaging content.

It could be a short video on Twitter or a blog about what you’re up to.

The key is to tell a relevant story.

Press exclusive

It’s a good old fashioned way of getting your message out and also ensuring you have control of the message.

Different than simply issuing a press release, by offering an exclusive you could land an earned editorial or a feature.

Traditional press outlets and publications can still give third party credibility even in today’s digital age.

What makes a good press release?

There are a couple of key things you need to write an effective press release:

Is it newsworthy?

Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is there anything new in my story?

    • Is there anything unusual?

    • Is this interesting to other people?

    • Will anyone care?

You have to try and find a way to answer yes to at least three of these four questions.

Think about the angle you take that ticks all the boxes.

Write a good headline

Journalists get hundreds of emails pitching stories and providing press releases. So include “press release” in the subject line and write an eye-catching headline.

Nail the “top line”

Journalists will decide in seconds if they will read on or move onto the next email. So write a 15-20 word “top line” at the beginning of the email.

This should summarise the story in a concise sentence, like the opening line of a news report.

This is where the “five Ws” come in (who, what, where, why and when). Journalists are taught to put as many of the “five Ws” into an opening line as possible. So think in those terms too.

A great tip is to imagine a newsreader saying “And next..” then how you’d like them to describe your story.

Be concise

300-400 words is sufficient.

Think about keeping it to one side of A4 paper. Be conscious of waffle. Four short paragraphs with a couple quotes will do the trick.

Ensure the quotes provide insight and not information. A bad example would be “last year, we grew our sales force and expanded into new markets.”

Make sure you sound like a human being and give opinion and insight. Avoid jargon.

Be aware not to fall into the trap of putting a bio of your company in the article. You can include further information at the bottom of the press release in the “notes to the editor”.

Be realistic

Always be ambitious and never fear sending your press release to a big publication.

But remember that journalists are bombarded with press releases. Don’t be upset if yours is overlooked.

A bit of chasing and determination can go a long way to helping you land the coverage you’re looking for.

Can I do my own PR, or do I need an agency?

Of course you can, but it takes time and effort.

Look through our other PR tips and work out a plan.

Equally an agency can help save you time and provide the expertise and guidance to ensure your strategy is a success.

You can bring in an agency to consult with you, guiding you through developing your strategy or you can outsource your PR activities to them entirely.

The choice is really up to you and what is right for you and your business.

What PR activities should I consider?

There are a number of PR activities you should consider including:

 

Press releases

Sending well written press releases to newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television stations to name but a few will help you to gain attention in a number of mainstream media outlets.

Influential bloggers

If there are any influential bloggers who post content either about your industry or who your target audience follow then you should contact them to see if they would be willing to review or promote your products. Some will do this for free if they feel their audience would benefit from your product or service however some bloggers will charge for this service.

Newsletters

Regular newsletters are a great way to promote your products or services to a targeted audience. You should look to include information about your business, interviews from key people, product information and testimonials from clients.

Supporting local causes

Supporting local charities, causes and events are a great way to promote your business and gather content for press releases whilst doing something great for the local community.

Sponsorship

Sponsoring local charities, causes and events are a great way to promote your business and gather content for press releases whilst doing something great for the local community.

Speaking engagements

Arranging to be a guest speaker at local schools, universities, networking events or local community initiatives (to name but a few) will not only show your dedication to the local community but also give you the opportunity to gain contacts with influential people in your local area.

Events/Functions

Organising special events to promote the benefits your business, products and services bring to your target audience will give you the opportunity to develop relationships with your customers face to face whilst also making you stand out from your competitors. Don’t forget to invite the local press!

Open days

If suitable for your business, open days are a cost effective way to give people a glimpse into your business whilst giving something back to the local community. You could invite students from local schools, colleges or universities so they can find out about the different job opportunities that are available in your industry.

Communicate with your employees

Is sounds simple and yet many companies do not regularly communicate with their employees. Letting your employees know about what is happening in your business, your latest events, product launches etc. will not only make them feel more valued but they will also become advocates for your brand and tell people about your business via word of mouth and social media for free.

How do I get coverage in local, national and trade press?

There are a number of things you can do to gain coverage in local, national and trade press:

• Look at the types of stories featured in the publications you want to be featured and then send them content you know they wll be interested in.

• With that being said try to make your story different and special.

• Build relationships with the journalsits and editors you send your content to.

• Always send your press releases to a named person where possible rather than a generic inbox.

• Avoid contacting journalists and editors only when you want you want something. Seek out some of their work and let them know about the articles you like or use them as a conversationg starter. They will aprpreicate the time you have taken to notice their work and they will remember you over others.

• Local press usually focus on covering stories from their area so make sure you mention your location wihtin the first few lines of your story.

• National and trade press are bombarded with content so you need to make sure yours really stands out.

• Create press packs that you can send on to the publications you are targeting.

How often should I produce press releases?

You need to remain fresh in your audience’s mind so you would ideally want to send out three press releases per month, providing that you have something valuable to say. Journalists and editors will quickly stop replying to you if you send them content that is of no use to them.

What audiences should my PR be aimed at?

It sounds simple but the audiences you are looking to target.

Look at your customer profiles and create a list with the most important at the top.

Start by sending out content that targets the audience that you think will give you the highest return on your investment.

Then send this content to publications that will reach that audience.

What follow up should I do on press releases?

This can be tricky as you do not want to be bombarding your contacts with questions about your press releases but at the same time you want to be at the forefront of their mind.

Always have a reason for your follow up communication beyond the status of your press release.

It may be that you want to discuss an article of theirs you have read or that you have more information that you would llike to give them.

Not only will this give you an opprtunity to further develop your relationship with the journalist but they will also be more receptive to hearing from you.

What are the first steps in finding the right PR agency?

PR is about you and your brand so it is vital that you find a company who will not only take the time to understand you, your business and your customers but also be able to effectively communicate your vision.

Before you start looking for a PR agency ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are your PR objectives?

2. What experience will a PR agency need to achieve these objectives?

3. Who is your target audience?

4. What is the culture like in your business?

5. How do you like to communicate?

6. What would you classify as PR success?

Then use the answers to these questions to create your ideal PR agency profile and use this to create a shortlist of agencies to contact.

How can I get good PR for free?

There are two ways you can get good PR for free:

• Write great content

• Build relationships with the right people

Both will require you to invest a lot of time and effort in order to succeed.

Be realistic and ask yourself if you would be better off hiring someone to do it for you.

What is the difference between PR and marketing?

The main difference between PR and marketing is that marketing is focused on promoting and selling a companies product or service whereas PR is focused on maintaining the positive reputation the company has.

There are a number of other differences including:

• Marketing focuses on sales wheras PR focuses on goals and objectives

• Marketing targets customer needs to sell products and services wheras PR targets customers to support company objectives

• Marketing focuses on paid advertising whereas PR focuses on free advertising

• Marketing is in general a short term activity wheras PR is a long term investment

With this being said, with the rise of social media and content marketing the lines are becoming increasingly blurred, as traditional sales focused marketing is becoming increasingly ineffective.

The key to success is therefore not to focus on the differences between marketing and PR but rather on how you can use them together to help you to succeed in meeting your goals.

How will we know if our PR strategy is working?

There are a number of ways for you to know if your PR strategy is working including an increase in:

 

• Press coverage

• Website page views

• Unique visitors to your website

• Enquiries

• Customers

• Sales

• Downloads

• Leads

• Requests for info

• Social media followers and engage

• Content sharing

• Customer engagement

What is PR success?

PR success will mean something different for each of us depending on your company goals.

Your focus should not be on success or failure but on how you can use PR to grow and evolve your business to meet your goals.

Can’t find the answer you are looking for?

Send us your question today!

07523708876
info@vertigo39.com
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