Articles Tagged with PR for small business

Back to school

#SillySeasonPR #13
Back to School #Silly SeasonPR

Back to school

And back to work, along with millions of others.

As more people get back to their desks, the PR machinery will slowly fire up and the flow of press release will increase.

Those businesses which have continued promoting themselves throughout the holiday will have taken advantage of the opportunities as other businesses wound down.

The press and media always need good content and comment, even over holidays. It can be a good time to obtain coverage.

If an article featuring you is posted online, you can link to it or refer to it at any time.

Thank you for reading our #SillySeasonPR posts.

Most of the hints and tips apply any time, so use them to boost your PR not only in the silly season but all year round.

Don’t be pushy

#SillySeasonPR #12

Don't be pushy! #SillySeasonPR

Don’t be pushy

“Come and interview us and we will give you an exclusive story.”

“This is our story and this is the angle.”

“I sent you a press release, but haven’t seen it in your newspaper.”

I’ve heard these a few times lately.

They don’t get you off to a very good start. I jump at the chance of an interesting interview or a good story and I’ve got a good nose for news and can usually tell (but not always).

Give yourself the best chance

Many press releases don’t get published.

This can be because they are:

  • irrelevant to the publication
  • inaccurate
  • an advert disguised as news
  • so poorly written that no one understands it
  • sent too late to meet the deadline
  • just not interesting

There are many reasons why they don’t get published, but don’t let being pushy be one of them.

How can I get my press release considered for publication?

  • Make it relevant – research the publication and tailor it accordingly
  • Check all the facts so that everything you say is correct
  • Don’t sell – tell a real story. Adverts aren’t news
  • Make sure it is well written. Let colleagues or friends read it to check they understand it
  • Send it in good time, especially if timing is essential, eg to publicise an event
  • Make sure it is interesting. Just because you are excited, doesn’t mean other people will be
  • Make yourself useful to journalists – help them do their jobs

If your press release is all of these things, it has a better chance of being considered for publication, but there is still no guarantee.

The editor could suddenly decide to reduce the number of pages in an issue so articles planned for inclusion will have to be left out.

Late news often arrives. A company making a lot of people redundant could take precedence over other news as could a company announcing a lot of new jobs.

However much we plan, we can’t tell what other news is going to come up.

Work with journalists

Journalists aren’t happy when they’ve been working on articles and their space is cut, so you won’t make them any happier by badgering them about including your press release.

The more helpful you are and the better the news you provide, the more likely a journalist will include it or try to give you coverage.

Being pushy will not help.

Your #SillySeasonPR #12 task is to review your press release to make it relevant, interesting and suitable for the publications you are targeting. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

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Offer comment

#SillySeasonPR #11

Offer comment #SillySeasonPR

Offer comment

Journalists and broadcasters are often looking for comment on issues.

On one occasion I contacted three architects and managed to get a comment from one. Guess who was featured in the newspaper along with a photo for a few minutes’ work.

How do I become a recognised authority on my subject?

  • Issue press releases offering genuine comment on a topical issue
  • Build relationships with journalists and let them know you can provide comment on your area
  • Add comment to your web site so that journalists searching online for comment will find you
  • Comment on topics on social media networks
  • Publish your own research and reports on your areas of expertise

You won’t necessarily get asked immediately, but when something does crop up needing a comment, journalists will know to contact you or can find you easily when they search online.

Your #SillySeasonPR #11 task is to think how journalists can discover your expertise. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

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Not all journalists bite

#SillySeasonPR #10

Not all journalists bite #SillySeasonPRNot all journalists bite

Are journalists special? No more special than other people, although some people can be frightened of them.

Should you take care when contacting a journalist? Just as much care as when contacting anyone else.

Should you phone or email them? That’s a good question. Some journalists hate being phoned, especially when they are busy. But wait a minute, do you hate being phoned when you are busy?

Remember too that when journalists want information or comment, they will call you at unearthly hours. In recent months, I have had calls to my mobile at 7am asking if I would take part in a live radio interview later that morning, while one Sunday evening I received a call from a journalist at 6pm. It’s all right to disturb you when they want something.

Ideally, it should be a balanced relationship, not one-sided.

As a business editor, I enjoy phone calls. I have picked up some interesting stories from unsolicited phone calls. If I feel a story is interesting and I am busy, I arrange a call for another day or ask the caller to email me details. I am happy for my phone number and email to be published in the newspaper.

What does annoy me is when people call about or email a story that is not at all relevant to my area of interest. I usually forgive business owners, especially those without much experience of PR, but get angry with PR professionals who ought to know better and should research their target audience more thoroughly. After all, the client is paying them for their expertise.

Also, just like everyone else, I don’t like being pestered.

Not every journalist thinks the same, so it is worthwhile checking out to see if journalists you are targeting have a preferred method of contact. Some will say, others won’t. Often, a brief email with your story ‘pitch’ can work better than a phone call, but who can tell? Some publications and journalists openly publish their phone numbers, so why not call them?

What’s the best way of contacting a journalist? There is no simple answer. However you choose to contact a journalist, be brief, explain your story clearly and accept that they might not be tempted to cover it.

What I can say is that this particular animal does not bite.

Your #SillySeasonPR #10 task is to think how best to contact journalists with your story. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

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The secret of pitching a story

#SillySeasonPR #9

The secret of pitching a story #SillySeasonPR

The secret of pitching a story

One week I wrote newspaper articles about a new financial services company, a new shop with a community mission, a business celebrating a 30-year anniversary and a business exporting high quality, hi-tech products.

How did these businesses pitch their stories?

  1. Email to the newsdesk
  2. Press release sent to the newspaper
  3. Facebook message direct to journalist
  4. Information given on a factory tour

What’s the best way to pitch your story?

The one that works.

Seriously, there are many ways to pitch a story and they all work for some people and don’t work for lots of other people.

The challenge is to find the way of pitching that works for your story, for you and the journalist you are targeting.

Be prepared

However you pitch your story, it’s essential that your pitch:

  • is short and punchy
  • is easy to understand
  • excites the person you are approaching

and, most importantly,

  • lets the story tell itself

Of course, your story does need to be interesting and exciting in order to do all this.

On my factory tour, it was a few simple facts about the company’s achievements that impressed me – no sales pitch, no boasts – just plain facts that spoke for themselves and made me think: “I want to write about that.”

Don’t wind journalists up

Sometimes people try to tell journalists what to do, what angle to take and insist that they visit to interview a senior person. This is not a good idea. It’s one thing to make suggestions, but another to tell journalists what to do in their own publication. Understandably, journalists get annoyed when this happens.

Invite rather than demand. Suggest rather than insist.

Let your business speak for itself

Surprisingly, many businesses talk about themselves without actually saying what they do or what they achieve.

When you pitch a story, show round a journalist or just talk about about your business, your message needs to be clear and straightforward. Don’t waffle or go into needless background that tires your listener or makes them want to end the conversation.

Don’t worry needlessly about how you contact a journalist, because if you get the pitch right, your story will sell itself.

Your #SillySeasonPR #9 task is to think of how to pitch your story in a few words that will make the listener ask to hear more. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

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Where is everyone?

#SillySeasonPR #8

Where is everyone? #SillySeasonPR

Where is everyone?

Over the past week, I have been asking for comment from businesses for articles that I am writing. I sent emails, but the autoresponders bounced back: “I am currently on annual leave.” I wondered how I would get any comment if there was no one about.

This a good reminder of why we called this the #SillySeasonPR challenge.

So many people are on holiday, but there is still space to fill in publications.

I would rather write about real news that people are interested in reading rather than silly ones just to fill space.

Take the opportunity

Now is your opportunity to take advantage of the ‘silly season’ when many businesses close down their PR machinery as they go on holiday. In early September, there will probably a flood of press releases as they try to catch up.

Take advantage of this lull.

Oh, and I did eventually get the comments I wanted. Those businesses will get the benefit of coverage in a newspaper.

Your #SillySeason PR task #8 is to get cracking on your press releases before the end of the silly season. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

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Make the front cover with a stunning photo

#SillySeasonPR #7

Make the front cover with a stunning photo #SillySeasonPR

Make the front cover with a stunning photo

We spend a lot of time thinking about the text of a press release, but must not forget the power of photos and images.

I was lucky to take a photo of Ilfracombe, where I live, when the conditions were perfect and I tweeted the view. A lot of people loved the photo and a local estate agent asked if they could use it as the front cover of their magazine which is distributed across the UK.

Now, I try to help promote the town so I agreed, making sure I get a credit for the photo.

I always carry a camera with me to capture those ‘perfect’ shots and it’s a good practice to do this in business, so that when something happens that makes an interesting visual image, you can capture it there and then.

Planned photography, where you can set up specific shots, can be very powerful too.

So don’t neglect images. Very often I receive an interesting press release, but when I ask for a photo, receive a lousy image. These photos are often left out and the stories get lost because they are just a column or two of text. If they were headed by a stunning image, more people would read them.

Take action

Looking out existing photos or thinking up ones you can take is your #SillySeason PR task #7.

Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

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What is there to talk about?

 

#SillySeasonPR #5

What is there to talk about? #SillySeasonPR

What is there to talk about?

We’ve looked at what we want to achieve and who we want to target, but what do we have to talk about? What is news?

News is likely to be: new, different, changing, topical, useful, significant, interesting, exciting, entertaining plus a lot more.

If it just repeats old information and adds nothing new, why would anyone want to publish it?

What are you doing?

What news do you have? Think what’s happening in your business that is interesting to talk about, such as:

  • New product/service launch
  • Winning awards
  • Opening new premises
  • Employing more people
  • Starting apprenticeships
  • Hosting events
  • Exhibiting
  • Supporting community groups
  • Gaining accreditations
  • New appointments

These are common topics, but there are always more.

Are any of these linked to the summer, the weather, school holidays, anything that is happening now? Have you anything planned that will link in with future events/seasons that you can prepare your PR for now?

You could be doing something that you always do, such as manufacturing designer wellington boots and experience a surge in demand if torrential rains arrive in August (I hope they don’t). You could be producing a cricket-themed accessory that is ideal for cricket fans attending international tournaments over the summer. You would need to get press releases out about these fast before the summer flashes past.

If you’re gearing up for sales in the autumn or winter, now is the time to be preparing your PR, even if we don’t want to think about how many days are left before Christmas. The other days I saw an advert for electric heaters in a magazine when we haven’t turned our heating on for months, but the advertiser was taking the opportunity to plant the idea in the mind of anyone planning new heating or redecoration.

Do it now!

Don’t think too long or put off thinking about it at all, because opportunities flash past. If you have won a 2015 award, it is only five months until 2016 and it will start to sound out of date. Talk about in now to get maximum exposure.

Remember, opportunities pass at speed. Grab them while they’re there. I’m late publishing this tip because I got a call from a radio station one morning at 8.40am, while walking our dog, asking if I could give a live interview at 9.20am. I had to hurriedly re-arrange my schedule to take advantage of this, making notes of comments relevant to the topic so that I could reel them off on-air.

Take action

Identifying what you can talk about that is relevant and newsworthy is your tyour #SillySeason PR task #5. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: Don’t delay – check your PR deadlines today

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PR planning and improvisation

#SillySeasonPR #4

PR planning and improvisation

Planning your PR enables you to make the best of available opportunities.

You know what’s happening in your business, your schedule for launching new products or services and the dates of events you’ll be hosting or attending. Use all this to plan your PR activity.

When do you need to get news to publications about your product launch? What can you say about an event you’re organising? What photos or video can you create in advance to make the biggest impact?

Planning your PR early on gives you the time to come up with ideas and ensures you contact journalists before their deadlines. It also gives you the time to get all the information together, get quotes from key people, prepare images and other material, so your PR is packed with interest.

Many businesses leave it too late and send out press releases after the deadline and often after the event, when it’s old news. This material tends to be hurried, incomplete and ineffective. Often, it’s a waste of time and money.

Do it properly if you’re going to do it at all.

PR planning and improvisation

Expect the unexpected

Even when you’ve planned everything down to the smallest detail, the unexpected can turn your plans upside down.

That’s why it’s good to have a flexible attitude. If something is cancelled or changed, can you still use it for your PR?

If a sudden opportunity arises, can you bring your PR forward to take advantage?

Having planned and created your material in advance, this can often give you a structure with which to improvise.

In these situations you have to act fast. Waiting to get everything perfect could mean you miss the opportunity.

That’s how the combination of planning and improvisation enables you to make the most of all PR opportunities.

Plan for the future and adapt your plan on the day.

That’s your #SillySeason PR task #4.

Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: What is there to talk about?

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