Public relations is usually seen as a way for big companies to protect a good reputation. But for small businesses, it can be a great way to build your brand and awareness.
What is Public Relations?
Public relations is the management and improvement of your reputation and brand. It differs from advertising because it’s not promoting a specific product, but rather your company as a whole. Much of public relations is about creating relationships with your stakeholders (customers, editors, influencers etc).
There are many different types of PR. They include:
- media relations
- community relations
- corporate and social responsibility
- public affairs
- crisis management
- social media
Today we are going to look specifically at media relations.
Why Have a Media Relations Strategy?
Building and maintaining good media relations can help you get your message across at a fraction of the cost of advertising. But you need a good story. If you don’t have something that will be unique and interesting to your customers, then editors, bloggers and influencers won’t provide their expertise in distributing your PR, because it won’t be interesting to their readers. Even worse, they may ask you to pay to be in their publication. And if you pay for something, it stops being public relations and becomes advertising.
PR is a huge and complicated area, but we’ve created a simple walkthrough of what a typical media relations marketing strategy could look like.
1 – Understand your customers
Until you know who your customers are and what they want, it will be impossible to deliver a good public relations strategy. Use market research, existing customers, competitor analysis and idea generation to get a better understanding of the opportunities and risks of public relations for your company.
2 – Find out where the best place is to reach your customers
Once you have all that research and analysis, it’s time to identify the places that your customers are. If you are focusing on a specific industry then identifying magazines, bloggers and influencers you would like to target before you start to plan articles and press releases will allow you to create content that resonates with your targets.
3 – Build relationships with bloggers, editors and influencers
It’s time to schmooze! (Be nice and helpful to the people who can distribute your public relations material)
People buy from people. And that’s true even with distributing your press releases. If you have met with the editor of a big magazine before you write and send them the first press release then they are much more likely to include it, because they know who you are and you will understand what they are looking for.
4 – Work out something that will resonate with your customers that is not your product or service
Unless you are launching a new product or service, try to avoid heavy advertising in your public relations. The people who will include your article in their blog or advertising are looking to entertain or provoke a thought from their readers. They won’t be interested in the hard sell.
Find a way to relate it to their industry. A good way to do this is to focus on the effect that your business has on your customers. This can be done through an interview, a case study, or finding a cause or challenge within your customer’s industry and providing a solution.
5 – Write a press release, get photography and video, and build a landing page
Now it’s time to actually start writing. Having a full list of things you can offer to potential distributors will increase the chance of them running your press release. Having good photography, an engaging press release, extra materials such as fact sheets, infographics and videos can be the difference between paying to be in the magazine, and getting in there for free.
6 – Check your work
Sloppy mistakes can really hurt your brand. Make sure you get someone else to check all of your work before sending it out to distributors.
7 – Send it to editors, bloggers and influencers
Now it’s time to push your little baby out into the world. Personalised emails and responses are always the best way to go. Be sure to make your press release stand out by being different.
8 – Follow-up
Don’t just wait for things to happen – make them happen. Follow-up calls and conversations can provide that little extra push, and really set you apart. Editors and other distributors are busy people and if your PR is at the forefront of their mind, then you’re more likely to be included in their publication. But don’t be too pushy or persistent, as you don’t want to be annoying.
9 – Create a follow-up strategy to show your good PR
Don’t forget to use your own PR, and the responses it gets. People who come to your website will understand your expertise better if you show them all the different places your message has been seen.
10 – Report and evaluate
Finally, analyse your PR campaign. What went right? What didn’t go so well? And what can you do better next time?
There’s a lot more to PR than what’s above but having a basic understanding of it can help you decide if it’s right for you. For a more in-depth discussion, why not drop us an email?