PR is not a passive discipline. You don't need to wait for something to happen before you publicise it. You can actively create PR opportunities that will get your company noticed.
The launch of a new product, a move to new premises, the appointment of new staff, a large order or a milestone event - these are all classic chances to publicise your business. But every other business is sending out the same type of press releases. So how do you make your story stand out?
You've got to make your announcement special. If you're moving premises for instance, hold an opening event and invite local bigwigs. If you have a new member of staff, give their appointment a human-interest angle - focus on their amazing marathon running or charity work, for example. Create a photo opportunity to launch a new product by holding an event in an unusual (but relevant) location.
One of the most effective ways to get press coverage is to position your product or service as a problem-solver. Take mail-order lingerie company Bravissimo. Its unique sales point (USP) was that it finally gave women with larger bust sizes the chance to buy a wide range of attractive bras and it used PR extensively to launch the company in 1995. The story was leapt on by everyone from GMTV to the Daily Mail and helped take the company from a tiny operation to a multi-million-pound business.
Bear in mind though one reason that the media may not pick up your press releases is that they are too overtly self-promoting. You can give your PR more integrity and credibility by including customer testimonials and case studies. A magazine or newspaper is more likely to run a story showing how your company solved a problem for a customer than a straight sales announcement. Try doing a survey and presenting the findings to the media - journalists love facts and figures.
Exhibitions and conferences attract the media and get extensive press coverage. If you're attending or exhibiting, there are many ways you can get excellent PR for your business, from sponsoring a session, making a speech, doing a product demo, inviting VIPs to your stand and having a product launch.
You can also hold your own event to create a PR opportunity. Have an open day, invite customers to a hands-on demonstration, organise a special sale, hold an auction to raise money for charity or invite special guests. Holding a special event is a great way to create excitement for your business, bringing in customers and attracting media attention.
Some business people become well-known figures in their own right, such as James Dyson, the inventor and entrepreneur. Becoming an authority in your field is an excellent way to publicise your business.
Write an article for your local newspaper or trade publication on a subject that relates to your business. The piece should not be a sales pitch for your own company. Instead, you are selling yourself as an expert. You could also consider writing a blog online. It's a great way to position yourself and your business to customers, the press and the sector you serve.
Take your expert status a step further by giving talks or teaching others about your profession. You could offer your speaking services to the local Chamber of Commerce, for example.
At the same time, be part of the debate in your industry sector. Write letters to the editor, comment on blogs, forums and chat rooms. Write reviews of relevant books on Amazon. However, don't be tempted to overtly sell your products as this can backfire and undermine your authority.
If you can create excitement about your business and position yourself as an expert, you'll find the media will want to talk to you and business will come flooding in.