News & Events
#009 – Peachy Public Relations
- 28th June 2017
- Posted by: Nicky
- Category: Episodes
In this week’s podcast, we’re talking about Public Relations. Let’s start with clarifying exactly what Public Relations is and where it sits with marketing.
Interesting you should say that actually because when I was studying for my PR qualification, the tutor said that PR people say marketing is part of PR and marketing people say it’s part of marketing.
So which is it then?
OK, this is a bit lengthy but this is how the Chartered Institute of Public Relations explain it: “Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”Download Transcript
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I’d say that influences not only what we do in marketing but also underpins what we do in business too.
Absolutely right. It should provide the backdrop to all our advertising and marketing and is key to developing word of mouth recommendations and contacts. It’s also cheaper and more effective than advertising or marketing.
So how is PR different to marketing?
Probably the easiest way to describe it is that your audiences are different. With marketing, you are pretty much targeting a specific market to promote your product or service. With PR, the messages are a bit more subtle and are aimed at audiences, also called publics, that are important to the organisation. They include customers – existing and potential; employees and management; investors; media; government; suppliers and opinion-formers. PR is as much about internal communications as it about the external.
Isn’t it also about image and what your business actually stands for?
Yes and that’s another crucial point to clarify for listeners. Your image is what your business actually is, you can’t project an image that isn’t real. It has to be based in fact – you can’t just make it up.
So what tools are traditionally used in PR?
Very similar to marketing actually. There are so many ways to communicate with your audience. For instance:
- Local, regional, trade & professional Press
- Posters / Literature
- Personal contact
- Direct mail
And not forgetting your website, of course! That’s the first impression most of your audience will have on you so it’s so important the message is right. PR isn’t just about Press Releases, is it?
Oh absolutely not! Obviously, Press Releases are what most people think of when you mention PR. Here’s an interesting exercise that I used with my students on a recent PR course. Have a look at your local newspaper and see if you can spot which are the news stories written by journalists and which are PR stories submitted by businesses and organisations like charities to give you a really good flavour of the type of stories your local media are looking for.
I’m sure that’s something our listeners will be really interested in. How DO they get local media interested in their story?
Well, the first thing to consider is whether the story is actually newsworthy.
How do you mean?
Is it a story that is going to interest the general public. A good rule of thumb is would it interest the writer if they read it about someone else. What’s the angle? Is there any significance to a celebration or event? Is it a human interest story? People love those. Look for something that will really make it stand out.
So if a business is celebrating an anniversary or significant achievement, or if one of their staff has an interesting back story, these would make good tasty content?
That’s exactly right. People love reading about people. Just like we were talking about in podcast 3 about Storytelling. Editors will be looking out for something that is different.
So if I’m looking to get a Press Release out, are there any basic rules to follow?
Yes, you can use something called the 5 W’s. Who, what, when, where and why. It’s an old PR term but very easy to follow. Make sure you get this information in at the start of your Press Release so if the story gets cut as quite often get cut from the bottom up, readers can still get the essence of your story at the start.
Listeners, we’re going to put a Press Release Template on our website for you to download which will make what we’ve just said much clearer.
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So just before we finish talking about Press Releases, are there any other tips for listeners?
It might be helpful to know that you can send Press Releases in the body of an email rather than as an attachment. And I would always send a high-resolution photo wherever possible to illustrate your story.
What about quotes?
They’re always great to include if you can. It makes it far more personal and you can actually tell more of your story through the quote. Press releases are generally written in the third person but obviously, the quote should be written in the first person – don’t forget to include the name and job title of the person making the quote.
Ooh yes! Boilerplates! We talked about this in our Branding podcast a few weeks ago. You add them to the very bottom of the Press Release after the main body of text. They’re not part of the main press release but give an opportunity to give the Editor some background information about your business. Again, if listeners download the free template, it will be explained on there.
Great stuff. So, if any of our listeners have got an interesting story like staff achievements, announcing new staff or their 1,000th customer, perhaps a Joint venture or promotion with another business, new premises or services or even if they are supporting a local charity, these could all be of interest to local media.
Absolutely. And then obviously there will be stories that may be of interest nationally.
I would recommend any business puts together a database of all the media that would potentially be interested in what they do. So that would include local newspapers and radio stations but also related trade magazines and journals. And importantly, keep it updated with current contact details.
Great advice, Nicky. I would suggest using these headings for the details you need:
- Name of Publication
- Name of contact
- Circulation details
Yes, and also deadline details so you know when you have to submit articles by. And here we’re right back to podcast 1 about the importance of having a marketing plan. You may have an event you want to promote but if you don’t know when you have to submit the article by, you could miss out. So a plan will make sure you know what you are doing on a month by month basis.
Very true. A lot of magazines need a Press Release up to 3 months before. In fact, I was trying to submit a story for a client about gardening and the particular magazine I was pitching to was a 6-month lead in! It’s worth saying here that if listeners are thinking of approaching TV with a story, they will often take a pitch at very short notice, but it will be dependent on what else is happening in the world at the time.
Wow! That’s a good point. Listeners, do check that the magazine you are pitching to accepts unsolicited stories. Most of them will have a media pack on their websites for you to download. Liz, would you advise ringing a journalist first?
Well, it’s not a guarantee the story will be published but it can save a lot of time and unnecessary waiting if they can then say they’re not interested. But I would say it’s definitely worth getting the name of your local reporter and introducing yourself. Ask them how they like to receive stories and they may say give us a ring first or just email.
So I guess when people think of PR, they often think that it’s about what happens when something goes wrong or a celebrity gets into trouble. You know, crisis PR. But is it really necessary for businesses to think about what they would do in an emergency?
Absolutely yes. Funny you should mention celebrities though. When I was teaching, we were following the story of David Beckham and the furore around what he said about getting a knighthood.
Oh, I vaguely remember that! It was most un-Beckham like and he was kicking off, if you pardon the pun, about not being recommended for an honor. I think his halo slipped a bit.
Indeed it did. And it was fascinating to see how the well-oiled Beckham PR machine swung into action. They pay a lot of money to be rescued from situations like these. So, after the initial negative stories, which were pretty damning, there was then a raft of stories with pictures about Beckham the family man, showing him cooking tea for his kids and going into detail about how he is effectively a house husband.
Very clever! And it worked I guess because it’s mainly forgotten now. Although I suppose because of the nature of the media, it could always get dragged up again. The important thing is for the Beckhams, they’ve been restored in the eyes of the great British public.
Yes, that’s PR. The image. But remember what we said at the beginning, you can’t create it, it has to be real.
So back to business, some examples of where you may need to think about kicking in with some crisis PR might be financial loss, staff dismissal or redundancies, a staff member in the media, an injury or fatality on your premises or even the closure of a business.
What key points should listeners think about when preparing a statement for incidents like these then?
Well, don’t try to cover up. Be honest. Remember you are speaking on behalf of your organisation not your personal feelings and don’t be emotional. Be the first to announce your ‘bad’ news because if you don’t, people may think you have something to hide. Plus don’t run the risk of an employee running to the media to tell of an impending crisis. Just at look at what happened to HMV when one of their employees tweeted about them being made redundant before the official statement had been issued. The company deleted the tweets but not before the damage had been done.
Excellent advice. I would also add some don’ts. Don’t say ‘No Comment’ or enter into a debate or argument. Never speak ‘Off the Record’ or say anything you wouldn’t want in print or broadcast. And never assign blame.
I think it’s important to have one key contact, which may be the Marketing Manager, who is overseeing the situation and, as with any marketing communication, be consistent with your message. Be available for the media and if you can’t discuss something, say why. If you need to find out some further information, explain that’s the reason why you can’t answer at that moment and that you will get back to them. And then get back to them. It’s worth mentioning here that the media will be looking for a quote from a someone ‘significant’ in the organization, so make sure you know who that is going to be and, more importantly, make sure that person knows what’s expected of them!
When we covered this on the PR course, most of the students, who came from all sorts of business backgrounds, felt that crisis PR wouldn’t relate to them. But interestingly, by the end of the session, they were all really glad they knew what they would do in an emergency. And one student had an incident a few weeks later and said she felt really confident in knowing how to react. More importantly, her bosses were really impressed!
So, listeners, it’s definitely worth thinking about putting together a simple crisis PR policy so you are covered.
So what are the key tasty morsels from this week’s podcast, Nicky?
I would say get to know your local media and what type of stories they are looking for. Make friends with your local reporter. And put together a media list or database with all the possible contacts when you want to pitch a story.
And I would say it’s definitely worth thinking about putting together a simple crisis PR policy just in case of emergencies and for peace of mind.
Crikey, we’ve run out time already! We are definitely going to have to revisit this subject because I’d certainly like to know more about using PR to position your business. So that just leaves us to say a big thank you to our listeners for tuning in – we’re very glad you did. And we very much hope what we’ve shared today will give you some tips for your own public relations activity. And let us know if you get any stories published!
Yes, don’t forget to download the Press Release template from our website www.themarketingmenu.com to help get you started.
So tune in again on Wednesday 12th July when we’ll be chatting about the all important subject of Customer Service. Until then, it’s goodbye from me, Nicky from Media Box Marketing, til next time.
And me, Liz from Brilliant Fish PR & Marketing, goodbye.
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