Public Relations: Have you ever opened up your local newspaper, and been shocked to find the smiling face of your competitor staring somewhat smugly back at you from a full-page feature article?
Not fair, is it? All that publicity is surely going to drive customers away from your business towards theirs. Your products and services are so much better than theirs, so why do they get coverage in the media?
Well, here’s why: they got the coverage because they talked to the media, and they did this by employing a public relations strategy within their marketing. And while all business owners know of public relations, most have never considered using PR to get their name out there in the marketplace.
The question is, why wouldn’t you? Publicity does generate interest and drive customers to your business. This is because people trust what they see and read in the media. Having your name (positively) mentioned in the media is basically a third-party endorsement. It builds your business’s credibility like no advertising or sales pitch can.
Public relations is a great way to educate potential and existing customers about your business and your products, build your business’s profile, and establish your credibility as an expert in whichever area is your specialty.
Sounds good? You haven’t heard the best of it – public relations is cheap. Most of the time, it doesn’t cost a cent.
So how do you take advantage of such a lucrative strategy? Engaging in public relations isn’t hard and doesn’t take a lot of effort – in fact, a few hours of your time per month should be plenty.
Just follow these simple steps to get your own PR campaign started:
ONE: Research media outlets
Put together a list of the media that you want to get published in – that is, media that targets the people YOU want to target. After all, it’s no use getting published in a computer magazine when you sell gardening services.
TWO: Brainstorm ideas
Think about anything newsworthy that has happened recently or will happen in your business – the launch of a new product, receiving an award, an exciting event, expert commentary on recent events/topics, and any achievements or a major change in your business.
THREE: Write a press release
A good press release will let the audience know who you are and what you do, and is brief and to the point. You should have an attention-grabbing heading, a brief subhead, and an opening paragraph detailing the who, what, where, when and why. The body should also be short and snappy, with the most important/interesting information displayed first.
FOUR: Send your release
You can either fax or e-mail your releases to the relevant outlets, but make sure your timing is right – you may need to check publishing deadlines, or ensure that the public are informed of an event that is happening in your business by a certain date.
FIVE: Follow up
This is an important step, as the follow up is often what gets a release published. Make a call to the editor or journalist you sent the release to a few days after you send it.. If you can create a relationship with the journalist, this will make the publication of your future releases much easier.
SIX: Be prepared for an interview
If a journalist is interested in your story, don’t be surprised if they call you for an interview to get more information – but make sure you’re prepared for it! Think up of possible questions beforehand and rehearse the answers. Prepare a few points you want to get across and make sure you stay on track.
SEVEN: Look out for your release
If a media outlet does decide to publish a story based on your release – firstly, congratulations! – and secondly, make sure you know about it! Journalists are sometime too busy to inform you of whether or when publish your release, so it’s up to you to read and review the publications for any media mentions.
EIGHT: Thank the journalist/editor
Send a brief thank you email for running the story, and start nurturing a win-win relationship with that contact. Keep them in the loop about any positive feedback on the article that you receive from your customers, and publicise the story and the publication by featuring a link to the article on your website/Facebook/Twitter page, and by getting clients to do the same. Journalists love to see the “buzz” generated around topics they write about, and also monitor which stories receive the most feedback, so helping them keep track will mean that they come to you the next time they want to write a story in your area of expertise.
NINE: Leverage your media mention
Having your business featured in a publication is exciting stuff, so make the most of it! Frame an over-sized copy of the press clipping and hang it in a prominent position in your place of business and in your office, so that customers and potential clients will be sure to see it. Send out the press clipping and a note to your suppliers and industry partners to personally thank them for their contribution in helping you achieve this media coverage, and publicise your coverage as much as you can – it IS a big deal!
TEN: Get the ball rolling on your next PR campaign
Don’t stop with that one release! Remember that the more coverage you get for your business, the greater visibility you have in your target market – so keep adding to your portfolio and get as much media exposure as you can.
Simple yet effective, PR is a great way to complement your existing marketing efforts and build a name for your business in your community. To learn more or to speak to an advisor, feel free to contact us on 1300 85 64 77.