So, why should your business bother “doing PR”? Well, a well-planned public relations strategy will help your business become more profitable; attract and retain quality clients; and gain you and your business public recognition.

It’s also cheap! A good PR campaign usually has the lowest cost of any channel of mass communication.

What is PR?

PR is a planned and sustained effort in managing communication attitudes between a business and its public. That’s not just customers but also employees, suppliers, your industry - anybody who affects or is affected by your business. There is one key audience – the media. A

key plank of PR is working with the media who can influence and inform many of your public. Media covers electronic media (radio and TV); print media (newspapers and magazine); and, of major importance, the internet and social media.

PR is not advertising. Advertising is paid for and you’ve complete control over the message, where it’s placed and when it will appear. While advertising can be very effective, a “news” article gives your promotion more creditability. It’s estimated news articles have up to 10 times more creditability than advertising.

Mutual trust should be the basis of your relationship with the media

The media

People have mixed feeling about the media. Some are cynical about the media; others nervous about contact with media.

Mutual trust should be the basis of your relationship with the media. A journalist will trust you to tell the full story. You should trust the journalist to present the story in a fair way. 

It boils down to what the journalist sees as a “good story.” Certainly a lot of media write what we consider negative stories. Sadly, people are more interested in negative news. However, if a potentially positive story is “newsworthy”, the media will be interested.

To get the media’s attention, you must give them something they feel could be of interest to their audience.

Some news you may want to announce:

  • New service or product
  • New staff appointments
  • Comment on legislation or industry issue
  • Research results
  • Seminar or conference
  • Public speeches you have given
  • Sponsorship of a local event or charity
  • Achievements
  • Business’ anniversary
  • New location

Send the media a concise email, preferably with an attached media release. Send these to the Chief of Staff for larger newspapers or electronic media and the Editor of local and suburban papers. For trade publications, contact the Editor. A follow-up call is vital. The media receive a mountain of material and you need them to focus on yours.

There are good reasons for issuing a media release:

  • It ensures the journalist has the correct facts
  • A well-written release increases your chances for a (near) word-for-word inclusion
  • It forces you to consider exactly what you want to say, and have it approved by your colleagues
  • You have a record of your message
 

Here is a simple formula for your release:

Heading – put a short concise one-line message capturing the key message. It should reflect the introduction/first paragraph.
First paragraph – this is the most important and should have the most powerful point(s). Include: what, where, how, when and who.
Other explanatory paragraphs - give the most important facts at the beginning. After the first paragraph, each remaining paragraph becomes less important than the preceding one (the ‘inverted pyramid’).

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Use powerful and positive words and phrases
  • Keep your release short and simple – at most one-and-a-half pages
  • Write in the third person
  • Head your work “Media Release”, date it, and use your letterhead
  • Write the full name of your business early
  • End the release with contact names and phone numbers. 

Media releases can be put on your website (so can the article published by the media) and on social media (LinkedIn).

Sending out a media release could lead to the media asking to interview you. 

Some interview tips:

  • Write down your key messages (no more than three points). Rehearse them.
  • Keep them short and simple.
  • Speak in statements.
  • Control the interview; you don’t have to answer the journalist’s questions exactly.
  • Minimise saying “no comment”; people may think you are hiding something. Explain why you can’t.
  • When in doubt, advise you may have to come back to them.
  • Minimise  speaking “off the record”.
  • State your business name at any opportunity.
  • Avoid jargon

Public relations gives you and your business visibility in the wider community, builds your creditability and distinguishes your work from others. Potential clients will consider you. It reinforces to existing clients they made the right choice and have engaged with a credible business.

Important disclaimer - Steadfast NZ Limited, its related companies and associates.

The views expressed are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect those of Steadfast.

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