Adding Impact with PR
Want to add impact and stretch your marketing dollars further? Perhaps it’s time to revisit the role that PR plays for you.What is PR?
Public relations is, to put it simply, relations with various public bodies, this includes customers, prospective customers, employees, shareholders, investors, suppliers, dealers, agents, governments and the community in which your company resides. PR is about building these relationships, through the media, and through ongoing interaction, the objective being to pro-actively manage your company’s corporate and product images. Small businesses are starting to see that its not only large organisations who can benefit, and the topic does not have to be crisis management – in fact, the most effective use of PR is when you use it proactively to promote the good news.
Many companies employ external PR firms to help them secure favourable publicity including free coverage on the television, in newspapers, magazines and on the radio, however, many also perform this function effectively within their own organisation. Whichever way you choose to operate, don’t use PR as an afterthought; involve your PR agency or department in the development of your overall marketing communications plan.Why Use PR? Credibility
Public relations holds a powerful position in the communications suite. One of the major impacts of PR is media relations, which assists you in achieving editorial coverage. People in your target market may see editorial as an independent and objective evaluation of your company; it thus provides a more powerful impact than advertising or other paid forms of communication.
Due to the perceived objectivity of editorial coverage, PR is said to hold more credibility than other forms of marketing communication. Editorial coverage is trusted more than running an advertisement, as, ultimately, it is not what you say about your business that matters, it is what others are saying about you.Cost Effectiveness
Public relations can be less expensive than other forms of paid communication, even if you hire an external public relations agency rather than performing this task in-house. Whilst you are paying for the services of a PR specialist, what you are achieving in the way of media coverage and changes in public perception may have otherwise cost you much more. Exposure
Media coverage achieved through PR is likely to be more extensive than that which you would achieve through advertising, given a similar budget. Specialist PR people know which media to target for which message (and often have cultivated incredible contacts), what content the media want, when to pitch them which story and what is the best way to deliver your message.Flexibility
Public relations has the benefits of being flexible in message content and being responsive to news. A skilled PR professional can turn around media releases in reaction to news or crisis situations within hours.When to use PR New and Small Businesses
Public relations is excellent for establishing credibility, especially if you are a small business or new venture. Coupled with advertising you can achieve very high levels of brand awareness and recognition without having to spend a fortune. Whether you are a start-up company, or simply expanding into a new country or geographical area, PR is an important tool for you.Product Promotion
Public relations is useful for launching new products, repositioning older products, announcing a special event, opening or company expansion, as this is news, and therefore more likely to get coverage in the media. In addition, your salesforce or sales channels may be inspired to greater action by the boost of seeing your product covered in the media.Crisis Communication.
When something goes wrong, it is useful to have a good relationship with your public, and with the media. You should strive to be available to speak with them to pre-empt or at least have the opportunity to be heard when negative issues are being discussed.Corporate Positioning
Managing the announcement of financial results and forecasts is a key role for the public relations department of any publicly listed company. Such announcements have the possibility of affecting share prices, so you should always ensure that the company’s voice is heard.
Involvement in community activities helps you to position you company in the minds of your public. Similarly, the announcement of your company winning an award, reaching a milestone or if someone in your company is involved with the publishing of an article or book or the delivering of a presentation helps to position you effectively.
And finally, here are key points to remember
- Don’t neglect your internal communications as part of your public relations. Employees are stakeholders too. Use internal newsletters or e-mails from the Chief Executive Officer to keep them across important events.
- Assign someone within your organisation to handle customer complaints, don’t let this important area fall by the wayside.
- Call when editors are not on deadline i.e. early in the day – always ask if they’re on deadline and if it would be better if you called back.
- Ask first if people want to be sent pitches and other information by e-mail, some prefer it by other means. Never e-mail graphics or photographs without checking first.
- You cannot exert control over the media, so don’t try to do so.
- Don’t bore editors, you are trying to help them, focus on the news.
- Use an attention-grabbing headline for each media release.
- Maximise positive publicity by sending clippings to shareholders, customers, suppliers, banks, employees and posting them on your web site.
- Think about your target before you send your release off. Time it correctly, if your target market is business, then you want the news to appear on a business day, if consumer, then a Friday to Saturday night announcement may be the best slot for you.
- Follow up and ask if key editors received your release, if they need more information, or would like to arrange an interview.
- Try different departments of the media, what may not be “news” could be covered in the “home” or “life” section of the media.
- Keep in regular contact with the media; talk with editors every two to three months if possible and look for ways you can help them do their job.
- Make sure your releases do not need significant editing prior to being used.
- Ensure you provide translations if you are sending your release to foreign language publications.
- Always use simple words and sentences.
- Write a thank you note when you receive media coverage.
Copyright (c) Penny Young www.TakeaBreak.com.au
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