Tuesday, 2 February 2016

What exactly is PR?


We recently held a couple of informal workshops to help small business owners to get to grips with PR. Not unreasonably, on each occasion, someone would shyly put up their hand and ask: “what exactly IS PR?” or “What’s the difference between PR and marketing and advertising”.



I think these are good questions and that the terms are quite often used interchangeably and incorrectly. PR is a wide-ranging term referring to your reputation. Everything you do that reflects your business affects your PR. If you’re rude to a customer, if one of your delivery vans knocks a wing mirror off someone’s car, the standard of work you provide –it is all PR.

I would say that marketing is the overarching term to describe all of the ways in which you promote your business; leaflets, social media, advertising and t-shirts. Under this umbrella, I would also place PR.
However, the workshops we ran were about getting people editorial coverage in newspapers. You need to get your name into the publications that your customers are reading. I do this by seeking out great stories that journalists want to use and that means that you must write them in a very specific way so they don’t read like an advert.

Journalists are busy people who receive thousands of emails. You can help get your press release get to the top of the pile in certain ways and this is what we addressed in our workshops. We focused on helping a journalist by learning how to write a release that has everything needed for publication.

However, press releases aren’t the only way of getting your name out there and earning coverage. Here is a list of other options that you can consider:

1. Opinion piece
Could you write a piece about trends in your industry? For example, what are the five top apps? Who are the people to watch? Are you an estate agent who has something damning to say about stamp duty? Are you a nurse who wants to tell people what’s really happening in the NHS? Have a look at your industry titles plus national and local press for this to see if they run articles like this and if they do, how long they are and the format.


2. Quotes in features and news stories

Can you put a local spin on a national story? Are you an expert that journalists should come to when there’s a story on your subject? Make sure you are!


3. Case studies
Have you asked your customers if they would be happy to talk about the work you’ve done for them? For example, we recently worked on a story for an architect that featured a couple’s house after they’d expressed delight at her work. Conversely, could you act as a case study? We often write about small businesses that have been able to start trading or expand thanks to their bank. Could you work collaboratively and get coverage for yourself and a business that you work with?

5. As well as providing expert advice on your own blog or website, could you consider guest posting on another blog?

6. In the digital age, why not consider a podcast or a vodcast for people to listen to or watch on the move?

7. Advertorials

A lady recently came to one of my workshops unsure of where to start press release-wise. What didn’t become clear until a lot later in the session was that she had been offered an advertorial alongside an advert she’d placed! This is a fantastic way to get your message across; unlike a press release which could be changed by a journalist, with an advertorial, you’ll be able to say whatever you like and you’ll know the exact date it will appear.
8. Competitions

There’s a knack to doing these properly and a list of guidelines to follow, but could you offer a competition prize to get your name out there?


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