Thing is, we’ve had a veritable smörgåsbord of requests. Wow – you guys are demanding, and we love it!
So, rather than trying to answer everything at once, we’ll start with the most popular suggestion: PR. In this blog, we hope to present a quick snapshot of public relations, perhaps provide you with a few tips and some simple do’s and don’t’s.
Are you ready? Then we’ll begin…
In the olden days, when everything was sepia and newspapers still used paste-up boards, there was little for the humble PR agent to do but send out press releases, build relationships with journalists and, occasionally, wine and dine the editors in a hope to win favour for their clients. Did this produce results? Well, yes, but they weren’t always the right ones! Press releases were often successful (provided there was a real angle, and not just a few hundred words of finely-veiled sales messages). Getting to know the journalists was also a good idea – it sometimes led to them tipping you off or asking for a comment from your client if a relevant story was running. Wining and dining the editors? Well, yes, that produced results, too – fat editors and an even fatter PR expense account, which was often passed onto the client.
Us Turquoise Tigers are lucky enough to have been on both sides of the table – as well as being brilliant PR cats (what’s that about self praise?), we’ve been editors and journalists, so we know what the editorial teams really want in terms of news, features and story ideas and what NOT to do as well.
Things have changed a lot since those not-so-golden days. Today’s PR agents should know which aspects to hold onto and which to ditch, just as we need to be aware of the never-ending gamut of PR opportunities that exist outside of the traditional newsroom.
Used properly, press releases are excellent and not likely to go out of fashion any time soon. Strong relationships with key editors and journalists should be essential, as should be the ability to SUGGEST ideas and drive targeted news to them, rather than sitting back and waiting for them to ask for the odd comment. Wining, dining and fat expense accounts, however, can safely be locked away in 1985.
Newspapers and magazines aside, we now have websites, social media sites, forums, e-zines, networking groups and a gazillion-and-one other arenas in which to spread your PR message.
Here are our top ten PR tips, compiled just for YOU:
- If you’re sending a press release, make sure you have a real story to shout about. If you’re sending nothing but plugs for your business, or trying to rehash old news, you’ll probably be passed direct to the advertising department. Either that or filed under ‘spam’ and consigned to the scrap pile.
- Similar rules apply to social media. You should definitely be making use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube et al, but don’t just churn out sales and marketing messages. Be chatty, inclusive, offer advice, connect with your target audience and ENGAGE with them. By all means, if something amazing is happening with your business, services or products, share the news, but don’t just talk about you and your products.
- If you’ve sent out a press release DO NOT contact the recipients to ask if they’re planning to publish your news. Unless you want to make enemies. Fast. Editors and journalists just don’t have the time for this kind of contact and they’ll probably see you as a nuisance.
- Take time to do your research. If you’re aiming at newspapers and magazines (online or print), get a feel for the kind of news they like to run, find out who the best contacts are to send your PR to, check when their deadlines are. How do they prefer to receive press releases? Email? Post? An online form? Is there a particular contact on the news/features desk you could get to know? When’s a good time to engage with him / her?
- Don’t write War and Peace. If you’re sending a press release, keep to the point. Provide key details, a relevant quote and, if appropriate, a picture. Always provide contact details, so journalists can choose to get in touch if they want to expand on your story. Remember, if you’re sending an image to appear in print, it needs to be a much higher resolution than you’ll need for a website.
- Don’t be too precious. Once you’ve written your press release and sent it off, you can’t expect to control the content that appears. Sometimes, if you’re lucky (although it’s really lazy journalism), your press release might be printed in full. Remember, though, journalists are trained to write their own news stories from information provided – they’re really not supposed to just cut and paste your press release in its entirety. Unless you’ve paid for the space, you have no say in what’s written OR the chosen headlines. So long as the information is accurate and not taken out of context, you should be happy to see your news appear in print.
- Keep abreast of current affairs and look out for opportunities to comment. If something relevant is being talked about, it’s a great chance for you to share your point of view. Don’t be afraid to chip into conversations happening online and, if you’re quick off the mark, there’s nothing to stop you sending out a press release, offering your comments on the situation.
- Generate your own PR. Don’t just rely on publications and websites to spread your message; why not produce your own newsletter and send it to your target audience? Remembering the golden rule of no hard-sell, why not offer tips, advice, commentary, even competitions? Position yourself as an expert in your field and share some of your extensive knowhow with your customers and potential customers. There are plenty of free online tools to help you produce your own newsletter (Mailchimp’s one of our favourites), and plenty that offer list management, so that new people can sign up to receive your updates.
- Whenever you send out a newsletter / write a press release / blog remember to make use of all those social media channels. Send out alerts and updates to help your message go viral. If you’re producing a blog or newsletter, consider adding a ‘share’ button to help your viewers spread your news as well.
- Finally, just keep going. Don’t be put off if you don’t get the results you desire straight away. A big part of PR is relationship and awareness building and you need to maintain that momentum. A one off campaign can work wonders, but a properly planned, sustained PR strategy can produce longer, stronger results.
We hope our tips have been helpful – obviously, there’s much more to a properly-conducted PR campaign and, if you choose to employ a professional agency, they should be able to work with you to come up with, or generate, regular publicity opportunities you may never have thought of. That’s their job, after all.
Good luck – do let us know how you get on!