Monday, 30 April 2012

Public Relations - Start with the Basics!

PAt the risk of sounding boring and repetitive, can I just say that PR is NOT free advertising!  I have lost count of the number of people that have sat in our meeting room and said that they are thinking to embark on a PR campaign because it wont cost them anything, whereas advertising will.    PR is a whole skill in itself, and when carried out well it can be enormously effective.    However, as you will see as we go along, I am a big fan of the ‘drip, drip, drip’ approach to marketing/PR, and I think it is important that all of your different marketing tools work in tandem; so, in an ideal world, the PR supports the advertising, the advertising supports the website, the website supports the social media, and so on (and by drip, drip, drip, I mean that one day you read something about a company in the paper, a couple of days later you see an advert about the same company, a few days later you meet someone from that company, etc, etc, etc, until you appoint them!).

Sticking to PR for the moment, let’s look at what is involved and how best to do it: first, ask yourself what the purpose of the PR campaign is.  Now that might sound a bit strange, but it is a question that I always ask a new client before we get started, ever since I asked the boss of a big, international company here what he would regard as a success at the end of the campaign (assuming he would say ‘a huge number of sales’) and he responded ‘I want to see my photo in a magazine at least once a month’!  Knowing what you want to achieve from the campaign, will help you to define what you are actually going to do; if you want to see an increase in sales, your PR activity should focus on the business and trade media that relates to your products/services; if you want to see pictures of yourself every month, then you might want to talk to the media that will be interested in your hobbies and achievements.   You also need to be realistic – yes, we know that you would all like to be on the front page of Hospodarske noviny each week (imagine my surprise when one of our clients tells us that!) – but unless you are doing something that is headline news, you are probably going to be disappointed.

If you are prepared (and able) to write articles yourself on topics that are likely to be interesting to specific media, then it might be possible to get them published.  But before embarking on hours of drafting, it is worth doing a bit of research first; try and speak to the journalists at your targeted magazine/paper and find out the sort of stories that they would be interested in – better to write about something that they want, rather than what you want!  Similarly with interviews; some journalists are happy to do interviews (but there is no guarantee that such interviews will be published), but they are not going to interview you just because you want them to.  You need to come up with a good reason why you could be just the person that they want to speak to about a given topic… and then make sure that if you get the interview, you give them what they want.

Press releases.  No, not everyone can write a press release.  And yes, everyone will have an opinion (sorry to be rude, but I can often be heard to say that if you put a group of Czechs in a room and ask them to translate ‘please see attached’ the conversation will go on forever).  Quite honestly, if more people worried about the ‘substance’ of the PR rather than where a capital letter should or shouldn’t go, they might have more chance of getting it published!  PRs should be short (ideally one page), the first paragraph should grab the journalist immediately – what is it, when is it, why is it newsy – and you need to include in it a few ‘hooks’ that will ensure that a journalist that receives thousands of press releases on their desk each day, actually reads yours.  Once upon a time there was some research undertaken in the UK which asked what the most popular words were to have in a heading of a PR that would ensure coverage.  The words were David Beckham.  So use the David Beckham technique … try and get into your heading/first paragraph something that you know will grab the journalists immediate attention – more on that soon.

And finally….. don’t forget to monitor the media!!  Not much point in banging out press releases and organizing interviews if you never actually check whether something has been published (no, that is not a joke….!!).

More soon.


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