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.