Articles Tagged with PR

What do you want your PR to achieve?

#SillySeasonPR #3

What do you want your PR to achieve?

Have you ever heard people say “We need to do some PR”?

My question is: why?

Everything we do in business costs money; even time has a cost, as we could be spending it on client work, making product or selling. We need a reason for doing anything, not just PR.

When people say they need to do some PR, it usually means sales have dried up and they know they need to something but don’t know what.

What is your objective?

Like anything else in business, PR activity should have an objective. This could be to:

  • raise awareness of your business, products or services
  • educate potential customers about products/services you provide
  • start customers thinking about your products, eg installing new heating in the summer in readiness for winter
  • buy a specific product/service relevant now, eg ice cream during a hot spell
  • promote an event
  • demonstrate your expertise as a leader in your industry
  • publicise your success, eg expansion, new staff, award wins, new premises
  • demonstrate to the community what a good business you are to work for to attract new employees

What do you want your PR to achieve? #SillySeasonPR

#3 #SillySeasonPR actions

Usually, your aim should tie in with your business plan.

PR can support this when you identify what call to action you want readers to take, such as:

  • visit your web site
  • phone or email you
  • visit your premises
  • book a place at an event
  • check to see whether they need to renew/replace a product they have, eg worn car tyres
  • make a purchase

Identify what you want to achieve so you know what action readers need to take to achieve it and what ‘call to action’ you need to include in your press release.

That’s your #SillySeason PR task #3.

Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: PR planning and improvisation

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.

Have you missed the holiday PR boat?

We’ve seen the stream of incoming press releases stop during the holidays.
Next week everyone will start sending at the same time, but have they missed holiday PR opportunities?

pressme: Have you missed the holiday PR boat?

No one reads news during the holidays.

Don’t they?

It’s true that stories such as the Prime Minister on his surfing holiday have appeared, but there’s also been many big news stories.

The flow of press releases stops during school holidays, but next week when the new term starts I expect a flood of press releases to come through at the same time for my weekly newspaper business pages.  Instead of repeatedly trying to speak to people for details of news stories, there will probably be too much to fit in the space and some news won’t get covered.

I believe many businesses are missing useful PR opportunities by not sending out press releases over the holiday period. With many publications having reduced resources, interesting news is often welcome. An eye-catching photo will also help.

Will anyone read it? Many print publications also publish news online and many of us still check up on news and business when we’re supposed to be relaxing.

Create a PR schedule to take advantage of all opportunities at all times. That way you can achieve more coverage, especially when journalists are eager to receive good material. And by helping them out, they are more likely to contact you in the future.

• See our #SillySeasonPR school holiday challenge for ideas on how to take the PR opportunities available over holidays.

Approval from the cleaner can wash PR down the pan

A cumbersome approval process can waste a fleeting PR opportunity.
While press releases need checking, businesses need to act fast or miss coverage.

Getting things done in time is what meets PR deadlines

I like to get things just right / just how I like them / perfect done.

Sometimes there is not enough time to do things precisely how we want. If there’s a fixed deadline, we must make it or lose the opportunity.

That’s life.

How many good stories never get told?

Recently, I saw a company had won an award and phoned them for details. They told me to speak to one of two PR agencies that work with them. I phoned the agency and was asked to email. I emailed and heard nothing. I emailed again and was asked if there was a deadline. I replied and have heard nothing since. In the meantime, more interesting stories have come up. I wonder how much they pay their two PR agencies?

Another scenario is when I speak to a company and they say: “We’ll have to get this checked out by head office.” Now, I realise companies need to manage their PR, but they can’t control everything written about them.  And if their process is so cumbersome that they miss the deadline, it’s not worth the resources they spend on this.

Opportunities speed past

Many PR opportunities arise suddenly and need quick responses.

I know from my own PR writing that it’s good to aim for the ideal target market, timing and circumstances, but these rarely occur.

To make the most of opportunities, it’s best to:

  • Prepare as much as you can to take PR opportunities when they arise
  • Respond fast – even if it’s just to say you’re unable to say anything at this time – lack of interest could mean you never get asked again
  • Don’t wait for the perfect moment – it is unlikely to arrive and you will have missed all the other opportunities

It’s likely that if everyone from the chief executive to the cleaner has to have an ‘input’, the resulting PR will go down the pan.

Spell acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations in full before using

Acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations save space and time,
but not if readers don’t know what they mean before you start using them.

ASAIAAIFBU (Always spell acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations in full before using)
Some organisations, products or processes have very long names that become tedious to repeat. Acronyms (which make a new word out of initials, eg LASER), initialisms (eg BBC) and abbreviations, eg ref) can make long names or terms easier to read and write. 

However, the reader does need to know what they mean. Do we know what LASER stands for or what the BBC is?

Spell them out before using

Spell out acronyms and initialisms in full the first time you write them and follow them with the shortened form in brackets, eg British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). From then on you can just write BBC and readers will know what you mean.

But surely everyone knows what the BBC is? Which BBC? There are many organisations with these initials so it’s dangerous to assume, especially if our target audience is a very broad one.

What is more, if you include obscure initials without identifying what they mean, a journalist will have to look them up. It won’t take them much time, but if they have to look up simple things for every press release they receive, it slows down their work considerably.

If you make life easier for journalists by providing information in full, it is a great help and establishes you as a good, reliable source for the future. And building good relationships with journalists is important for the success of your PR campaigns.

Can anyone see you?

You’re good at what you do, but how do you let other people see that?
Sitting and worrying about it won’t help. Take action!

pressme | can anyone see you?

I speak to businesses all the time and hear the same complaint again and again: they are good at what they do but no one knows what they do.

With the internet, blogs and social media available to us, you’d think this would no longer be a problem. If anything, it can be even more difficult with the amount of ‘noise’ produced by online marketing. It’s like street market traders trying to be heard by shouting louder all at the same time, only to create a hubbub where no words can be made out by anyone trying to listen.

What can you do to help people find you?

I think what is most important is to take action.

The challenge of getting your business known can be overwhelming and reduce us to sitting in our offices wondering what to do.

Put the worry aside and spend the time instead taking actions that will work for you.

There are moony small actions we can take quickly, for example:

  • List your business in free directories
  • Make sure your business name and logo are displayed on your commercial vehicles
  • Ask to leave leaflets or cards in stores you shop at regularly
  • Go to networking events and introduce yourself to new people
  • Host an event or workshop in your shop or office
  • Wear branded shirts, jackets or a badge on your suit
  • Take the chance to speak to groups of people about your business or industry
  • Phone up or email your local newspaper or radio station to tell them your business news
  • Ask your existing customers or contacts if they know people who need your product/service
  • Make sure your social media profiles are up to date and monitor them for responses
  • Use opportunities to exhibit at events
  • Support a local community group by providing help

These are just a few ideas and will be more suitable to some businesses than to others.

Will they generate more sales? Probably not on their own, but the more action you take, the more you increase awareness of your business.

Create your own PR and marketing machine

And whatever you do, keep on doing it.

Speaking to one group will not necessarily achieve the results you want immediately, but what if people like your presentation and recommend you to other groups? This could generate more opportunities to speak where you can display your pop-up banner and hand out leaflets.

Suddenly you have created your own PR and marketing machine and 10s or 100s of people will become aware of your business.

There are many ways to create awareness if we don’t let the fear of it stop us.

Our competitors are doing this, so why don’t we?

Learning a PR lesson from a persistent snowdrop

How a long-awaited, lone snowdrop reminded me that persistence and patience are needed when running a PR or social media campaign.persistent snowdrop
Over the weekend, when I was away on a trip, my wife texted me to say a single snowdrop had flowered under our blackcurrant bushes.

I was over the moon. I planted lots of bulbs – crocuses snowdrops and tulips – before seeding this patch of soil with grass last autumn. The grass has taken, but whereas long-established bulbs elsewhere in the garden have come up in abundance, none of these new ones had showed any signs of appearing.

I have been scouring this area every morning for signs of growth, but was starting to wonder whether the bulbs had either been eaten by slugs or had rotted. I hadn’t given up, but felt the chances of seeing any flowers were slim.

Patience is rewarded

So news of the first snowdrop was even sweeter than usual. My patience has been rewarded and now I hope to see a few more flowers come up.

This reminded me about the need for persistence and patience in communication, especially in PR and social media. One press release, one blog post or tweet is unlikely to flourish by itself. It needs a planned campaign to plant seeds that will flower with persistent tending over weeks or months.

While this has always been the case, the vast flood of updates and posts now released on the internet every second makes it even more necessary.

One press release or tweet is not enough

A single tweet, post, blog or press release can disappear like a quiet comment in a noisy pub. An interesting, useful or amusing comment can be overwhelmed by streams of photos, accounts of reality celebrities or the latest smartphones and gadgets.

How do you make your voice heard when you talk about something outside these obvious topics which many people stick to because they are the easiest options?

Being original and interesting, of course, but also being persistent and patient. Many people give up quickly when they don’t see instant results. Often you have to wait to see your achievements.

I am certain that other bulbs will now flower in my lawn, because I believe that, given time, they will reach up and flower.

What’s bubbling away in your business?


This morning I was thinking about blog topics for today when the boiling water in the kettle brought to mind a blog by Suzan St Maur about selling the ‘sizzle in your sausage’.

I thought of some of the press releases I receive as a journalist which often have the potential for a good story bubbling away, but never quite reach the boil.

It reminded me that when I receive a press release, I want to be excited by it. Yes, I want to understand it fast, I want it well written, I want accurate details, but above all I want to be excited enough to publish it.

In her blog, Suzan asks Do you know what you’re REALLY selling before you write about it?. Suzan’s blog comments on an article by Tsufit on ‘How To Attract New Clients in Just 30 Seconds’ which asks “If you don’t know what you’re selling, how can you sell it?”

As well as knowing what we’re selling – and Suzan’s blog covers this brilliantly – there is a danger when preparing PR material that the process takes the heat out of the story. This can happen where a press release is written, then circulated to a distribution list for comment and approval, passed by the corporate style police and perfected by committee to leave it stone cold.

But it’s not just big organisations that can freeze a story that is so hot it needs handling with oven gloves. Often we can be so engrossed in form and detail that we forget the story. It’s vital that we maintain the excitement in any story unless we want it to end up as a bedtime tale to send the reader to sleep.

That means expressing all the energy, enthusiasm and excitement of our business or product or service and the reason we love what we do. If we can get all this across, we can excite journalists and editors, and, in turn, their readers.

Thank you to Suzan and Tsufit for bringing me to the boil!

What is bubbling away in your business?

 

Why are some press releases like lost baggage at an airport?

Why are some press releases like lost baggage at an airport?

When I worked in communications for an international airline, I remember a tour behind the scenes at a Heathrow passenger terminal and seeing heaps of suitcases and bags piled up.

Sometimes I imagine there are similar heaps of press releases which haven’t reached their intended destination or were not clearly labelled.

Where do press releases go?

If you send a press release to ‘the editor’ or not addressed to a specific individual at a publication, you can expect it to land on a heap somewhere.

Press releases sometimes get passed from one journalist to another at a publication with comments such as ‘any use?’ attached.

Is that the response you want when it’s taken hours or days to get information, obtain a quote from a customer and get them to approve the release, met with your PR consultant and paid them to write and distribute your press release?

How much has ‘any use?’ cost you?

Does this really happen? Yes.

Is it your lucky day?

With luck, press releases do reach the appropriate journalist. I always take a look at press releases passed to me, even if I wince at their content and decide not to use them.

I suspect that many more end up on the ‘discarded’ heap.

This is a shame, considering the work, resources and time that have gone into producing them, especially when a little research and targeting could have prevented this.

It’s useful to keep the image of lost baggage in your mind when distributing press releases and, just as when you jet off on your hard-earned holiday, think: destination.

How PR literate are businesses?

How PR literate are businesses? | pressme

Last week I was writing the year’s last business pages for our local newspaper and put out a general question asking if any businesses had any news stories.

Generally, I pick up news by keeping my eyes and ears open and seeing what’s happening. I tend to approach businesses who are tweeting or posting about their activities rather than putting out a general request for news. Some businesses are already switched on to PR and offer suitable material, often through press releases, but this time I thought I would cast my net wider and see if I could connect with businesses who don’t use public relations. I was interested to see what response I would get.

What do journalists need?

I did receive some responses, although I did have to explain in simple terms what I was looking for. It was clear that some of them were not familiar with what material is required.

That’s not a problem for me as I am used to interviewing people and teasing a story out of them. Often business owners aren’t aware of their own good stories. Perhaps it’s because they think only big, massively successful businesses can use PR and that no one will be interested in their stories. That is not the case.

Using PR to promote your business

I think if more businesses were ‘PR literate’ and understood the essential processes of PR, they would obtain a lot more coverage.

Last week I also made a presentation on using PR effectively to a group of manufacturers outlining the basics. From putting aside fear and contacting a journalist to writing a press release with a sharp headline and powerful opening paragraph, and taking striking photos whenever opportunities arise, there is so much that any business can do.

When you see the same business featured in one issue of a publication after another, it’s because they are doing all this. Like any other business activity, it does take time and effort, but anyone can do it.

Understanding the processes, ‘PR literacy’, can help achieve this.

Mix the right raw ingredients to cook up the perfect PR meal


Mix the right raw ingredients to cook up the perfect PR meal
I really enjoy cooking as a way to wind down.

I don’t know if it’s because it takes me away from my keyboard or because it results in a physical product, but anyway I find it very relaxing.

How do you make a meal from individual ingredients?

One of the things that fascinates me is how you take raw ingredients – today it was raw beef mince, onion, celery, carrot, tomato, butter, flour, milk, herbs and pasta – and combine them to make something new and totally different, but hopefully tasty. I was lucky in that today everything came together as a lasagne.

Combine your PR ingredients

It got me thinking that it’s the same with PR. You take your raw ingredients – your story, facts, quotes and photographs – to produce a tasty PR dish. The higher the quality of your ingredients, the tastier the story is for journalists. So if you have a mouth-watering photo, journalists are more likely to bite.

A press release on its own will not necessarily achieve success. It needs to be served in an appetising way, so a spokesperson with an energetic and enthusiastic manner is more likely to be asked for an interview on radio or TV and an eye-catching photo is more likely to be picked for the cover of a magazine.

As in cooking, we have to select the finest PR ingredients and combine them in a way that produces a ‘complete dish’.

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