Whose time is your PR wasting?

Effective PR requires time and effort,
but we need to focus activity clearly to make sure we’re not wasting others’ time as well as our own.

Whose time is your PR wasting

If you’d put a lot of effort into writing and distributing a press release or article, how would you feel if a journalist started reading but then stopped and asked: “What is this all about?”

If it’s a really interesting topic and the journalist wants to pursue it, they’ll call you to get the real story.

It’s more likely that they won’t have much time and are up against a tight deadline and will give up.

How much time would you have spent putting that press release together?

What do you think the journalist’s opinion will be of your business?

Does it ever happen?

It happened twice to me recently when I received two vague press releases. I like to give people a chance and re-read them to see if I was missing the point. No, they were too vague. They referred to awards or achievements, but did not give any specific details.

I did a bit of investigation. I try to check facts wherever I can as I know that people often mention things without checking them. There was nothing on their web sites.

I now reached a point where the value of the stories in my view was not worth more of my time. I had other news to follow up that I knew was of interest, so I did not follow up these two any further.

What improvements could have got them published?

If the press releases had set out precisely what the awards were, what organisations made them, why they had won them and what it meant to the businesses to win them, it would have told me all about the stories.

Perhaps they would have been newsworthy.

In the event, they wasted my time and, I imagine, wasted theirs too.

My advice when looking to start any public relations activity is to establish what your news is, who will find it interesting and what you want it to achieve.

If you can’t provide the answers to these questions, I suggest spending the time on something more likely to be useful.

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.

Tell a spellbinding story

Tell a spellbinding story with your press release

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Everyone enjoys a good story. Stories are the best way for businesses to get their messages across to customers.

As a business journalist, I often get people calling me saying they’ve started a new business with no idea of what to say about it. I’m always interested in why someone starts a business, especially in these tough times, so I ask them what inspired them.

This simple question is often the key to unlocking the story of their business. They tell me about their life, the barriers they’ve come up against, their dreams and how they’ve pursued them, and a lot more.

Suddenly, they’ve gone from being just someone who’s opened another business to someone with an interesting story. It usually says a lot about their business too, revealing their ethos and how they operate.

Not all journalists are ready to put the work in to discover the story, so it’s good to discover your own story and tell it for yourself.

What drives you to run your business? What has happened along the way? What thoughts struck you so you decided to make your business that bit different from everyone else?

Capture the imagination of your audience as you tell the story of your journey to success.

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