In the last newsletter we looked at advertising and direct mail. This month we will look at PR, explain what it is and why you should consider it as part of your marketing strategy.
What is it?
“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
Most business people think PR is associated with press releases, which is largely true and many people think PR is only useful for large companies, which is untrue.
PR or Public Relations is about getting you and your products & services noticed by a wide audience as cost-effectively as possible. Free, positive publicity is the point of the exercise. The basic principle is that 3rd party endorsements are good for your business. The 3rd parties could be media such as local, regional even national press, trade magazines, on-line bloggers etc.
But PR is not just about writing press releases, it is about businesses looking for or creating and making the most of any opportunity for good publicity.
So where do I start?
As always it begins with customers and how best to reach them. A few questions to ask are:
- How do customers find out about products and services like yours?
- Generally what do they read, listen to, and view?
- Are there specific media such as trade journals?
- Any on-line sources of information they would look for?
PR isn't just aimed at potential customers. PR specialists use the term Publics, which sounds odd but which means any audience that is important to the business: potential customers; suppliers; banks; other businesses that you may actually, or wish to, collaborate with; people who influence the opinions of your customers, the wider community - to name just a few.
Even if you only have a narrow range of customers there is value in raising a wider awareness of your business.
Media coverage is the key to achieving good PR.
So make a list of the target media i.e. paid for and free press, local council & county council newsletters, local and regional free glossy publications, trade press and journals. Don't forget other more local media such as local newsletters and parish magazines.
Think about radio and TV local to your customers and also online information sources.
Customer's opinions and perceptions are often be formed by reading experts views and opinions online in blogs as well as in printed media etc.
Whether your target audience is local, regional or national will affect the list of media that you could list.
So how is it done?
Firstly PR does not mean making a blatant sales pitch!
You are aiming to build a good reputation and increase and widen recognition of your business and PR needs to be part of an integrated marketing strategy.
Think of any positive changes you have made to the business: introduced new product and services; something interesting that you and or your business have done or are about to do; statistics or any results relating to performance or customer feedback; any expert thoughts, opinions, ideas, advice that you are able to offer that would be interesting to media readers, viewers, listeners and that would raise your profile, and position you as an expert and a reputable provider.
But don't be tempted to give away your trade secrets!
At its simplest, PR can be an informative and interesting (not whinging) letter to newspapers. Other useful PR routes include:
- Issuing a press release to local national news media and hoping one or more will print it;
- Persuading a newspaper journalist or a radio / TV producer to run a feature on you;
- Persuading influential bloggers or other online opinion leaders to mention you;
- Writing articles for newspapers, trade journals online newsletter;
- Offering to answer readers / listeners questions on your specialist subject;
- Starting your own regular blog;
- Organising and publicising special events;
- Undertaking speaking engagements;
- Having good employee relations is good PR;
- Raising your profile by community good works and relations.
Writing and issuing press releases is an art in itself, there are specialists who can do this for you. If you would like a free copy of a factsheet on writing a press release please email me.
To find out more about using PR as part of your marketing toolkit speak to your Business Link adviser or go to our website.
For free marketing workshops and seminars see: http://www.bookevents.org/
That's all for this month.
Business Link - the place to go for business support