Chances are that when you hear the word PR you think of a business sending out a press release and that’s that.
Well, as it turns out there is a lot more to public relations, so keep reading.
Let’s get the ‘boring’ part out of the way first.
There are as many definitions of PR as there are letters in the alphabet, but personally I like the following from the PRCA:
Public Relations, or ‘PR, is all about the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build a positive reputation and public image.
The way an organisation is represented in the media has a huge impact on how people perceive it. PR professionals try to influence the media to represent their organisation positively and communicate key messages (source: PRCA again).
In my world PR is about getting you, the client, featured in the media without spending money on an ad, sponsored post or another form of payment. This could be an article, image or video about you and your company, or on an issue that is close to your heart.
(Don’t be fooled by the saying ‘All publicity is good publicity’. Sometimes PR is about keeping you out of the media).
The journalist acts as an independent third party. They add credibility to the story you want to tell and this creates trust between the reader and your organisation.
This image sums it up perfectly:
Good PR professionals focus on genuinely newsworthy or interesting stories that naturally exist within each organisation, the challenges it solves for customers, trends affecting the business and the wider industry, and giving a human face to the business.
Ultimately, PR is about storytelling in a way that appeals to journalists and their readers.
How we go about telling your story will depend on your business and objectives, but it’s likely to involve the following:
A PR professional puts a strategy and plan in place to help a business get from its starting position to where it wants to be.
This includes identifying and developing key messages to make sure that stories and messages are accurate, backed up by proofpoints (don’t call yourself ‘market leading’ unless you really are) and in line with your strategic objectives.
PRs and journalists have a symbiotic relationship: without each other neither of us can do their job effectively. So that means building relations with key journalists and influencers in the client’s industry.
This is a two-way conversation where PRs don’t just pitch stories (news, story ideas) but also ask the journalist what their needs are.
Every PR professional I know is an avid consumer of news. The most used app on my phone is BBC News as it helps with keeping a finger on the pulse. We can identify topical news stories that our clients need to be part of.
This example is of Bostjan Bregar, CEO of 4th Office who contributed to a topical news story around National Unplugging Day 2016 in Business Advice.
Clients rarely have time and patience (or the skills!) to write.
Yet, writing has never been as important as it is now and this is not restricted to press releases.
PRs write blog posts to help with content marketing, thought leadership articles, case studies, award entries, social media posts, media alerts and comments to name just a few.
Here’s an example: an article on the need for gamification of health apps from John Miles at Health & Parenting that was published on Huffington Post.
Your published content needs to be shared via other social channels to maximise its impact and reach.
Twitter and LinkedIn are the most important social channels for business, but you might like to add relevant others such as Facebook, Instagram. The ultimate aim is to boost existing content, engage in conversations with others – customers, peers, influencers – and build/strengthen your profile.
That is only possible if your channels are set up properly and maintained on a regular basis. Something a PR can help with.
A business inevitably will face certain challenges, either public or in private.
PRs play a crucial role in coordinating and communicating a response that stops a potential crisis from developing or spiralling out of control.
Not all publicity is good publicity, regardless of what you’ve heard.
You only have to look at #PRfail examples such as United Airlines forcibly removing a passenger from one of its airplanes or Pepsi trying to make an ill-judged political statement in its ad featuring Kendall Jenner.
These work a treat for raising the personal and professional profile of business leaders or key spokespeople.
And it works on so many different levels.
When you are employed, winning an award or speaking at an industry event will raise your profile internally. Your boss will want to keep you, the knowledgeable and connected asset on the payroll and perhaps even fast track you for promotion.
Everybody likes to brush shoulders with success. Journalists are more likely to seek you out next time they write about a topic in your area of expertise.
Your profile amongst your peers will rise and you will open yourself up to new opportunities.
PRs help with identifying the best awards and events to consider. They also help with drafting entries, speaking proposals or even presentations.
Well PR client Amber Vodegel, COO of Health & Parenting has been shortlisted in the First Women Awards 2017 on the back of a compelling award entry.
People who work in PR will often say that it’s not rocket science.
They are right – it isn’t! But there is definitely a knack to it.
PRs need patience, a pro-active approach, creative thinking, tenacity, thick skin, and most importantly, a friendly demeanour to build and maintain those oh-so-valuable journo-PR relationships.
If you want to ‘do’ PR, but lack the time to do it yourself, then get in touch with us here.
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