PR: Everything you need to know but didn’t want to ask.
On Monday, I was invited to be a guest expert speaker at a marketing workshop. I was asked to demystify PR, so took this an opportunity to go back to the beginning and cover the basics.
So, what is PR?
Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public. However your customer sees you is PR, whether that be in print (magazines, newspapers, leaflets, books), digital (websites, blogs), social media (all channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat), on the news or radio.
“A successful PR campaign can be likened to a new TV programme. Generally, you won’t watch a programme the first time you see it advertised. You’ll see it advertised, see some content on social media and hear of a friend who loves it before you watch the trailer and may watch the first episode. PR is just like it. A potential customer needs to see your brand 5 times before they go to your website and even then, they’re not guaranteed to make a purchase. So they’ll need to see you on Facebook, in their magazine, on Twitter, hear of a friend who loves one of your products and then see an advert somewhere before they have a look further.”
How can PR help your business?
PR is a great way to increase coverage, brand awareness and enquiries. Successful PR stories are driven around new products, innovative ideas and brands that do something a little different. Featuring in Valentines Day gift guides, Christmas gift guides and ‘What We’re Loving Now’ style features are invaluable to your business. Your PR expert will have features lists from publications with all of these drawn out, so they’re already half way there.
Do you need a PR pro or can you do it yourself?
You don’t necessarily need to use an expert BUT they will already have the contacts at magazines, newspapers, blogs, TV etc. They will have spent years building up a relationship with editors and journalists so will be much more likely to get you coverage. If you are looking to work with someone, I’d advise choosing someone who understands your industry, your sector and your brand. I specialise in equestrian and rural businesses because I’ve been horsey for all of my 28 years and live on a farm, in the Cotswolds, very much living the country dream. It’s my area of passion and expertise.
Managing your own PR
If you wish to handle your own PR, spend some time creating an integrated plan. Analyse 3 of your target magazines, so you know which journalist to get in touch with, what sort of features they run, if they have a new product section, or an entrepreneur of the month style section. You need to find the exact person to email your proposal or idea too – generally phone calls are a no no for journos and editors, so be sure to find the right email and ensure your subject line is catchy and will grab their attention.
Before you even think about sending a press release or getting in touch, ensure your website and blog is up to date and that your social media pages are all relevant, current and professional. I’ve heard of press releases being ignored because a simple search from an editor highlighted really unprofessional accounts with swearing or Facebook pages that hadn’t been updated for 2 months. It all counts!
The integrated plan
With the influx of bloggers and news-based websites, PR has changed over recent years. A plan which combines both traditional (magazines, newspapers, TV and radio) with modern PR (bloggers, influencers, digital, social) is essential. While print coverage is great, digital is a lot easier to track and to work out the true return on investment.
Accessibility & affordability of PR
Many people think PR is just for the London-based tech and fashion firms who have massive budgets, but this needn’t be the case. If you have a budget in mind, do speak to a PR expert and let them know – most of them will certainly be able to work to your price range and will create an integrated plan to suit your brand.
The integrated plan is what led me to launch the PR package – you can find more information about that here – it combines traditional and modern PR, so my client has well-distributed coverage, with an increased chance of being seen by even more potential clients. It’s the content that counts.
If you’re stuck, feel baffled with PR or just want someone to talk to, please do send me an email and we can get the ball rolling!