Public Relations: The Elephant in the Room
Perhaps it’s because PR is one of those strategies that you do not have much control over, regardless of the reason though, PR can be one of the most effective and cheapest ways of reaching out to new markets, adding credibility to your brand and business, and making your name known.
What is PR and Why do I need it?
Public relations is the process of relating to the public, usually through the media. PR can range from setting up a press conference, writing a press release for local business, or just talking to some journalists. Essentially so long as you are maintaining a relationship with the media, you are doing PR.
Public relations can be very effective in that it’s someone else telling your target market about you. Picture you walking down the street, and hot dog stand owner tells you to come and try his hot dogs, “They are the best!” he exclaims. Well for the most part, you might listen to him (your level of hunger will definitely affect this decision as well), but deep inside you know that his statement is biased because he owns the hot dog stand, he will benefit from you buying it. Now if your friend tells you that these hot dogs are the best, you are more inclined to believe him because, unless the Hot Dog Owner is bankrolling your friends, they won’t benefit from you buying a hot dog, their statement is sincere.
This is the power that PR can bring to your business, instead of you telling people to buy your hot dogs through traditional advertisement, now a reliable and trusted impartial source is telling people to buy your hot dogs.
On top of this, there is also the blessing and curse of the media being able to tell your story however they want to. I give you the example of Grotto Climbing and Yoga. This is a Gym who’s PR campaigns have been working very well, being talked about in many online publications, but probably one of the strongest was an article that was released a few days before Valentines Day detailing some of the best date ideas in San Diego, and lo and behold Grotto Climbing and Yoga was on that list, and as people began looking online for Valentine ideas, it brought it a sector of the market that Grotto had not been initially targeting.
All of this with only the price of a little research and reaching out to the media to make sure that they talk about you!
How do I do it?
Some techniques to get you started:
- Read publications! In order to ensure your story gets talked about, you want to know what people are talking about right now, and reading current publications, will keep you updated in your industry. So find out which magazines and newspapers are talking about your industry and start reading!
- Understand that you do not fully control this medium. Journalist will ask about what they want, and you will sometimes get bad publicity, the point is to make the good publicity stronger. Work with the journalists, allow them to take control, and at times the fact that you don’t fully control can be a great thing.
- Always make sure there is a story. Journalists want to tell a story, they want to have a news hook. You can’t just send a press release saying you are releasing a new product or what you offer and hope that gets attention, make sure your brand and identity and products are something worth talking about.
- Be yourself and available. Have opinions where appropriate. If you go around being diplomatic, you will have no character, and won’t be something people want to talk about. Always present yourself as a credible opinion though, publications sometimes need just a snippet of you, and even if they just use a quote, it can open more opportunities and make your company more credible in the public’s eyes.
- Understand that you do not fully control this medium. I mention this again for the negatives. If your company is large enough with enough employees, you want to make sure there is some control when it comes to relating to the media, having a company policy on how to speak to the media is always a good thing, but make sure it doesn’t leave it so closed off you will never get written about.
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