How do I get some PR?

Most businesses know the benefits of good PR. Whether it’s a photo of your event in the local paper, a radio interview or an article on an industry website, it raises your profile among your prospective customers, and ideally positions you as an expert in your field.

The challenge is to ensure that time spent on PR is not wasted but generates results. There is never any guarantee that a journalist will cover your story, as you can’t predict what other news will break on the same day, but by getting a few basic things right you can significantly improve your chances.

Here are three golden rules to help you ensure PR works to your advantage:
1. Choose the right media for your business and get to know them
2. Ensure your story is interesting and relevant
3. Put the story out in a timely fashion.

There’s no point spending time on PR if you target the wrong media for your organisation.  Just because you read a certain newspaper every day, there’s no guarantee that your customers do. If you offer a consumer product or service, then local media are clearly going to be important in your PR planning, but if you sell directly to larger businesses then an interview on local radio, whilst it raises your profile in the area, is unlikely to generate any sales leads.

Think about what your target customers read and listen to, whether it’s local news or specialist trade magazines/websites/blogs. If you’re not sure, ask them.  Everyone likes to give their opinion, and you might be surprised by the results!

Having identified your target media, spend time reading or listening to them. You’ll quickly get an idea of the type of stories they cover. In general terms, local news media like to have a human interest angle, business pages want to know about company growth, market trends and job creation, while trade media cover new products and sector trends and offer expert comment.

Now think about what your company has to say that would interest your chosen media.  Are you recruiting, expanding, or celebrating a business milestone? Have you won an award, or done something unusual to support a good cause?

If you provide services, such as in IT or recruitment, consider a different approach. Perhaps you can identify a trend relevant to your business, such as a 20% increase in accountancy jobs when other sectors are not growing, or a significant increase in the number of companies buying security products to prevent hacking. By talking knowledgeably about a relevant issue, you can present yourself and your business as experts in your field, and attract the attention of others who are interested in the topic.

Another option is to comment on the hot news story of the day. If it’s lack of skills among young people, perhaps you’ve successfully recruited school leavers, or alternatively found it difficult to fill an apprenticeship vacancy? Summarise your views in a few sentences and contact you’re the appropriate media offering informed comment. A word of warning – if you try this approach, you must do it within a few hours of the initial story breaking, or the news agenda will have moved on.

Finally, all news stories need to be NEWS – that is, they need to be new, fresh and different from the other stories out there.  If a website has just published a story on a particular topic, they’re unlikely to be interested in anything similar for a few weeks. Launching a new website isn’t news – but if it’s resulted in a five-fold increase in business, you might be able to create a newsworthy story

Ready to get started? Identify the right media, get to know them, ensure you come up with a strong story and you can start to raise your profile. It’s easier than you think!

Debbie Smith is director of Cheltenham-based Helix PR, which provides business to business PR and copywriting.


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