Ten FAQs on PR.
- What can PR do for a small business?
- When and where is PR most effective?
- What makes a good press release?
- What other PR activities should I consider?
- Can I do my own PR, or do I need an agency?
- How much time and money should I spend on PR?
- How do I get coverage in local and trade publications?
- How often should I produce press releases?
- What audiences should my PR activity be aimed at?
- What follow-up actions do I need to take after sending out a press release?
1. What can PR do for a small business?
PR can be used to raise the profile of your business and portray it in a good light. Getting positive media coverage is not easy but any kind of editorial endorsement can be very powerful. While PR does not have to be a costly exercise, it takes time to build relationships with journalists, create newsworthy events and write press releases.
2. When and where is PR most effective?
PR can be highly effective for start-ups that need to create a buzz and build brand recognition. It’s also a vital part of promoting any new development in your business - whether you’re moving to new premises, expanding your business or launching a new product or service. You can also get great PR for your business by building up your own profile and becoming a recognised expert in your field who journalists can go to for guidance and comments.
3. What makes a good press release?
Most PR is geared towards generating positive publicity in the media. The trick with a press releases is to write it as a news story, not as an advertisement for your firm. Whether your story is published will depend on how good your press release is:
- It must be news. The story must be topical: you have to find a peg to hang the story on. It is not news that you make dog baskets - but it would be if the Palace bought one.
- Head it up with the title Press Release. Find out the name of the journalist responsible for the section you want it to appear in, and address the press release to that individual.
- Write a clear headline. Do not waste too much time on dreaming up a winning pun as the publication will always re-write it.
- Write for the publication's readership. Use jargon for the technical press but simplify it for your local paper.
- Put the meat of the story in the first sentence to attract the reader, then develop the story in succeeding paragraphs. Most stories can be told in three to four paragraphs.
- Use double spacing to make it easy to read and edit.
- Use quotes from an identified source to add interest.
- Add your contact details, including your out-of-hours contact telephone number.
- Attach a photo. Provide a caption to identify the people portrayed.
4. What other PR activities should I consider?
A press release is a great PR tool, but there are other activities that can attract the attention of the media:
- Support local causes
This helps you build good relationships within the community, it shows your business in a good light and it often creates newsworthy stories for the local press.
- Become an expert commentator
Be prepared to talk at professional networks, get involved in relevant campaigns and engage with specific journalists and business leaders on social media.
Sponsorship can be a cost-effective way to get publicity; the association with something special - such as a sports team or a key event – can enhance the reputation of your business and introduce you to a new audience.
- Have open days
Open days are cheap to organise, they can generate considerable goodwill and they often attract media attention.
5. Can I do my own PR, or do I need an agency?
Few small firms can afford the full-time services of a PR agency. Most want a monthly retainer. With a bit of guidance and study, you should be able to manage simple press releases yourself. If your budget and ambitions allow, you can find reputable PR firms on the Chartered Institute of Public Relations website.
When choosing an agency, you need to ensure that they understand your line of business. Establish precisely what you are paying for and what you will get for your money. Be particularly careful before committing yourself to paying a retainer.
6. How much time and money should I spend on PR?
PR is all about getting people to know about who you are and what you do. It can help improve perceptions and create a positive image of your company. How much time and money you spend on PR depends upon how satisfied you are with your current image and how important it might be to improve it. The more you put in, the more you'll get out.
7. How do I get coverage in publications?
PR, more than almost any other marketing activity, is based on good contacts. Cultivate the journalists and editors who matter to you.
To state the obvious, most local press will only look at stories within their readership area, so bring in your location early in the story. Trade publications are always looking for news and expert commentary; attending trade shows is a great way to meet the journalists that cover your sector; ask them what they are looking for and be prepared to keep in touch.
The national press and high-circulation magazines can be worth contacting if you have an interesting story to tell about how your business came about; if you sell consumer products, it’s always worth trying to get featured in magazines aimed at your target market, especially around Christmas.
It can also help your cause if you send out a press pack. This will provide background information about your company and key staff. It can also inform editors about any areas of expertise you have.
8. How often should I produce press releases?
As with any form of marketing, PR works best when your name is seen on a regular basis. Since not every press release is going to be published, this means that you might need to send out one or two every month, depending on how much news you have to share about your business.
Different publications will have different deadlines. Find out what these are and draw up a list. Send out a press release early, and put a date embargo on it until it is time to be published.
9. What audiences should my PR activity be aimed at?
Send your press releases to publications which will reach your target audience and which are likely to be interested in publishing your release. For example, if you want to raise your profile as an employer to attract staff then the local papers would be the best media choice. On the other hand, if you want to attract potential investors, the business pages of a broadsheet newspaper or trade publication will be better for influencing your target audience.
10. What follow-up actions do I need to take after sending out a press release?
It’s always worth following up your press release with a call or an email to ask the journalist if there’s anything else they need. However, you may lose the goodwill of journalists if you send too many emails or call them too frequently. Bear in mind that most journalists are working to tight deadlines and they get hundreds of press releases every dayClearly .