Yikes! What is stopping you?

Many of us have things that we put off doing.

Yikes! What is stopping you?

Last weekend I started installing loft insulation we bought four years ago. It’s a horrible job and there are plenty of good excuses for doing something else. However, winter is here and the difference in warmth it has made already is amazing.

Of course, now I am asking myself: “Why didn’t I do this before?”

Not trying avoids disappointment

It’s the same with many things in business, especially PR. People think about it, but it can seem a bit scary. What if I send off a press release and no one is interested? What if I call a journalist and get a grumpy rejection? Sometimes it’s easier not to try so we don’t get disappointed.

With my journalist’s hat on, there is nothing that delights me more than an email from a small business that I have featured in the business pages I write. Many are so pleased to see their photo and read about their activities. And many say they get business as a result of their article.

Could we have succeeded?

Although this approach avoids disappointment, it also prevents us from fulfilling our potential. Could we have succeeded? Who knows? But our competitors will probably lap up publicity if we don’t try.

Is there anything stopping you from using PR for your business?

We’d like to hear from you if there is anything stopping you from using PR in your business. If you leave a comment below, we’ll try to provide an answer that helps. Lack of budget is a common barrier, but there is a lot you can do yourself if you have time.

So if there is anything stopping you and you’d like to ask about it, now is your chance.

Three stories waiting to be deciphered

Press releases work best when there is a clear focus on one story. From the headline and the first sentence you know what it’s about.

Sometimes I receive press releases with no clear story or three little stories or even no story. I’ve even had press releases passed to me by colleagues with the comment: “I think there’s a story in there somewhere.”

You have to work hard to figure it out and if it’s not obvious, you give up, which wastes the effort of writing the press release.

If you have three stories, write three press releases to get maximum coverage. If they’re crammed into one article, you’ll lose the impact and, if it does get published, no one will realise what it’s really about.

You could also find that different stories appeal to different segments of your target audience. So you could send one story to publications for one segment and another story to publications aimed at a different group.

Good stories are valuable. Don’t waste them.

How sure must we be of facts?

If a customer asks for a written quotation, most businesses will honour it, even if they attach a time limit to it.

If a customer places an order on the basis of that quotation, they’ll very likely get angry if they get charged more or lots of extras are added without warning. Depending on the wording, they could even take the business to court if they had been misled.

Is there any difference with PR? Not really. Even if what we say is vague, people are likely to remember it and hold us to it. If we maintain we made a spur-of-the-moment remark, it does our reputation no good to withdraw it. Will people trust us again? Probably not.

That’s why it’s important to ensure that information we give out publicly – in a press release, article or spoken interview – is accurate.

Don’t be tempted if you’re not sure

Sometimes journalists will press for figures, especially if they seem impressive. It can be very tempting to blurt them out, like a bee unable to resist sweet honey, but the negative publicity if we get it wrong could be damaging. We could say our profits had increased by 15% and then find they had actually fallen by 5%. Not a good idea.

And remember not to mention sensitive information, especially if it has to be approved by a third party. If a partner organisation or customer or supplier finds out that we have given out information about them that they considered confidential, it could be disaster for our business.

We need to be sure of our facts before making them public.

Keep data at hand

If you find it hard to remember details, create a one-page summary of key information about your business or specific projects on your laptop, tablet device or phone or print it out to carry with you so you always have it to hand.

Build a checklist for details and data into your PR plan so that it becomes part of your business process and you are always prepared for journalists’ questions.

And remember that in the long run it is usually better to say we don’t know the answer rather than fudging it and looking stupid later.

 

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