Articles Tagged with Public Relations

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.

What’s the view like from over there?

What's the view like from over there?Sometimes it can be tough to come up with new ideas for PR and marketing.

You look around and see many people talking about the same things. It can reach the point where you don’t even click on articles to read them because you’ve seen three covering the same topic already.

Where can we find inspiration?

The photo opposite made me realise how we can look at something very familiar and see it in a completely different light.

“What’s that?” Mrs Z asked when she saw it.

When I told her, she was quite surprised. She wasn’t surprised that I had taken the photo. I am interested by patterns and textures, light and shade, and often experiment with photos to see how they will come out.

You can apply this approach to public relations too. When I am editing my weekly business news for a local newspaper, I am always looking for different angles. For example, a business will send a press release about being nominated for an award, not realising that in one week I could be covering four separate awards schemes and will likely amalgamate those stories into one article. If there was something in their press release that stood out, something really special, or a photo more interesting than people shaking hands and holding trophies, I would take more interest immediately and give their story more prominence than the others.

So when preparing a press release, focus on what is different. Look at your story from a reader’s view, a customer’s view, an employee’s view or any other view to get different ideas. Thousands of businesses win awards, so what’s different about how you won yours? What is it that makes you stand out from everyone else? Have you got a photo that’s different? You can apply this approach to any topic, eg achievements, events, new appointments, product launches.

I almost cry out with joy when I do receive something that’s different.

Try it and see what you come up with.

Any ideas of what the photo is?

It’s the loose tea in our tea caddy.

Did they miss your story?

When working as a journalist, I keep my eyes peeled for certain topics. When I read a press release, I expect it to be about the topic in the headline and introductory paragraph, but last week I found a second story embedded further on in a press release. I left this out of the article I was writing, but it happened that this second story was of more interest to me than the main one.

This could have been dangerous for the company sending the press release as the second story could easily have been missed or ignored. They’re lucky as I’ve taken the effort to interview them for a second article, so they’ve managed two out of one, but they very nearly threw away that second story.

I suggest sticking to one story per press release. Many businesses struggle to find any interesting stories, so it’s best to use them sparingly. It also helps to create a flow of interesting stories to maintain awareness.

Busy journalists and editors can skim the beginning of a press release and never reach the bottom paragraphs. Whether that’s right or wrong, it’s not worth the risk of wasting time and money invested in your public relations programme.

What’s the story in . . . ? Wouldn’t you like to know?

Well, stories don’t tell themselves: we need storytellers.

At the start of what will probably be a very challenging year, it would be very easy to just give up after reading some of the doom and gloom press reports and opinion pieces. But wait a minute? Do you know anyone in business who is busy or who has just won a substantial order? We do. And just now a client phoned with a new editing commission.

Life goes on. Business goes on. If we let them.

But if nobody hears that businesses are winning orders, signing new contracts and achieving other successes, the doom and gloom stories will dominate everyone’s thinking.

I’m not suggesting we gloss over major challenges for businesses, many of which are not directly of their own making, but let’s aim for a more balanced picture.

How can we achieve this?

While some businesses are all to quick to send out a press release with news that is more important to themselves than to anyone else, many with real news don’t recognise its value. I usually find that most businesses have something interesting to say about themselves. A bit of thinking about how this could be of interest to others could develop some powerful public relations material.

When I work as a journalist, businesses often send me press releases that are actually sales pitches. Where I have time, I talk to them to find if there is an underlying story that can be developed into an interesting article. Often there is.

Now, not every journalist has the time or inclination to do this, so it is best to think your story through before sending your press release out or contacting the media.

What help will this be? If some PR can raise awareness of your products and services or generate new enquiries and sales, it will help not only your business but also the wider economy. That could be useful if the recent 2.5% VAT rise is affecting your sales.

So what’s the story?

You must read this!

Why? Who says so?

I don’t like people or organisations to order me about, trying to bully me into doing things because they think I should. Yet more and more communications I receive from organisations, especially those in the public sector, say that businesses “must” or “should” take some particular action.

Now, there’s often a very good reason why businesses ought to consider doing some of these things, but it’s up to them to make their own decisions.

If these (possibly) well-intentioned organisations really want to help businesses, they are more likely to succeed by engaging with them, establishing a dialogue and persuading rather than patronising them.

Perhaps it’s because some of these organisations are being abolished and many having their funding reduced that they feel the need to throw their weight about to establish or maintain their authority. Interestingly, these communications are often issued via public relations agencies who ought to know that annoying an audience can wreck any chance of getting them to take a specific action.

With public sector organisations expected to be more effective on smaller budgets, treating audiences with some respect could improve their performance at no extra cost.

And if you’ve read this, thank you. We’d never really order you to do anything.

Posted via email from z2zine

Improve your PR results with basic research

My work as a freelance journalist constantly reminds me what businesses should and should not do to get press coverage.

Above all, the simplest thing anyone can do is find out the right person to receive a press release on a specific topic.

What surprises me is that even though direct dial telephone numbers and email addresses of journalists sometimes accompany articles they write, many people don’t think to look for these. How do I know? Because inappropriate press releases are often forwarded by one journalist to another.

Now, if you’ve spent 30 minutes, an hour, two hours or however long writing a press release – time that could have been spent earning money from your customers – it makes sense to ensure that it gets to the right person.

I’m a forgiving soul and look at most material I receive, but not everyone is.

So before you send: look for the right person, find out their contact details and address the press release to them personally.

Does it work? Yes, because many people are doing this and get through direct to me. It’s a good start because I know they have put some thought into what they’re doing, so probably have a good story to tell. They have established my interest.

I would also recommend researching target publications before starting to write a press release, because then you will know what type of articles they tend to publish and can tailor yours to suit their style.

Posted via email from z2zine

Is vague the new grey in PR?

Is it the hot weather or is there another reason for a plague of vague press releases?

Lately, as part of my journalist role, I’ve been receiving a lot of press releases that not only miss the occasional detail but sometimes the entire story: awards to companies for something or other, presentations to an individual who worked for a couple of organisations, a financial services provider supplying . . . financial services.

Now, every journalist has specific interests and what’s interesting about the role is discovering a nugget about the topic or area you cover. I enjoy picking up the phone to find out more about a story, but not to dig out the basic details so I can figure out whether it’s interesting or not.

These press releases have come from press offices of UK government agencies and business organisations as well as from private companies. Does it matter?

Well, clients are paying fees to PR agencies and employers paying staff to produce and distribute these press releases when a lot businesses now promote themselves very effectively. Last week, I suggested an idea for a photo to accompany a company’s press release and the next morning I received a high quality image from them by email. There was no PR agency involved and I didn’t receive a tiny 72dpi, badly posed image, like the government agency sent.

If that’s the case, why use a PR agency or corporate marketing professional? Why not do it yourself?

I see it as a warning to anyone in PR, marketing and communications to sharpen up and provide the value that clients and employers expect . . . or perhaps they won’t want to pay for us any more.

Posted via web from z2zine

Are they interested in what you’re interested in?

When you’ve got something you want to tell the rest of the world, it’s easy to rattle on enthusiastically about what you find interesting, usually something of great value to your business. But how do you know if a journalist or editor will find it interesting too?

Even large organisations and public relations agencies sometimes forget to ask this.

A call to a journalist, if they’re accessible, can confirm what, if anything, will interest them in your story, while familiarity with a publication can help you to tailor your press release, article or other news snippet to its specific readership.

If you’re managing your own PR, you can do this yourself. If you pay an agency, make sure that they are tailoring releases to targeted media.

It’s worth doing, as if you’re going to send out press releases, or pay someone else to write and send them out, you’ll get better value for money if your news has a chance of actually being published.

Posted via web from z2zine

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