What is PR?
Put simply PR or public relations is a great way of promoting your business to a wider audience. Just like networking or social media posts it raises awareness of your brand and helps you to explain to your target audience what you do and why you add value.
How can PR help?
There are many added benefits that a great piece of PR can bring such as the opportunity to increase your SEO helping customers to find your website more easily and giving your business a greater ‘share of voice’ or presence within your particular industry – ultimately making you stand out from the crowd.
As a small micro business just starting out you might not have a marketing budget and the thought of writing a press release may fill you with dread resulting in it residing at the bottom of your to do list for ever more. But I am here to help you to gain the confidence and skills you need to write and send out your first press release to gain local and regional media coverage.
This quick guide is jam packed with tips and advice to help you as a start-up business to start feeling confident about gaining media coverage and telling your story in a way which makes you stand out.
- Be realistic about what you can achieve
You are not a PR pro so managing a complex media campaign is probably not something you should be attempting right now. Be aware that as a business you can actually cause more damage if you get it wrong, with negative feedback or mis-messaging or even find your ‘positive’ story being turned into a negative so avoid a PR disaster by making sure you get advice when you need it. That said there is no reason you can’t send out a press release to gain quality local and regional or even trade and national press, depending on your story, with a little bit of help and a lot of perseverance.
2. Know the difference between editorial and an advert
In media whether it is local newspapers, magazines, radio or even tv there is something called editorial and there is also advertising which is paid for space. The two are totally different and should be treated as such. With advertising you will work with a sales manager for the publication and buy a specific size of space in the publication or on the air. You can then produce whatever copy you want, within reason, to fill that space. The sales manager may help you with designing your section or even writing the copy but what gets used is completely down to you. On the other hand, editorial is the news that goes around the adverts and is free space within the newspaper, magazine or on the TV and radio. It is produced by a journalist and the editor and their team have full control over the content. As a business you have the opportunity to send in your ideas for what would make a good interview or article and this is often done with a press release – but this isn’t the only way – and then the journalists decide whether they like your story and would like to use it. They do not have to and often will not use your press release word for word. So, the skill in PR is making your sure your messaging stands out and that your story isn’t drastically changed so that you still get the positive coverage you were looking for.
3. Every great business starts with a story
I can guarantee that every business has at least one great story to tell. The key is to finding that pitch and angle which makes your story news worthy. It needs to be relevant and stand out from the crowd. Your passion and drive will be what makes your business a success so you need to find what it is that makes you unique and why you will be of interest. Having a great story to tell is the first step in creating that perfect press release. So, look at your business through your customers eyes and think about who is your target audience and what would they like to hear about. Do you have an event or new product launch, is there something unique about your business?
4. Personality is key – the media love a good human-interest story
Often it is the people behind the business that are actually more newsworthy than the product or service itself. Remember this is not an advert so it is not about producing a sales pitch. Yes, you are doing a press release to promote your business but make sure that your press release features on the personality of your business and what makes it so unique and newsworthy.
5. Be clear on your messaging
Know what you want to achieve and why. There is no point just sending a press release out because it seems the right thing to do. You need to think about what you want to achieve. Are you wanting to raise awareness of your business locally? Get key coverage which you can showcase in your business to highlight to customers as they visit and act as a third-party endorsement for your services? Raise awareness of an event or product to increase ticket sales or visits to your shop or ecommerce site? Or are you hoping to build more link backs to your website to improve your visibility in website searches? What ever you want to achieve make sure that any press release you write meets that criteria and has those calls to actions included.
6. Perfect your pitch
A well written press release is worth its weight in gold. Make sure you know your audience and take time to create the strongest story possible. The format of a press release is different in that you need to make sure you include the most important information at the top and work your way down. Don’t write it chronologically make sure you have a headline grabbing intro – but don’t overly sensationalise, it has to be accurate! Then work your way through drip feeding the other important details as you go.
7. Good imagery
All publications even radio sometimes rely on a good photograph to go with a story as it can be used on the website, in print or even social media to promote your story. It needs to be of good quality, interesting and most importantly relevant. So, think carefully about what image would look good alongside your story.
8. Know your area
Media, especially local newspapers or radio, are very territorial and have set areas of interest. Make sure that you and your business are relevant to that area and that you are sending your press release to the right publication.
9. Attention to detail
Make sure that you check for errors, punctuation and spelling. There is nothing worse than receiving a badly written press release full of errors it really doesn’t give your business a good impression. Always take a few minutes to check your wording and make sure that there aren’t any errors and you have included all the relevant information.
10. Be prepared for your story to go further than you expected
Most local newsdesks are connected to other regional publications or even national newsdesks. So, be aware that your story can be quite easily circulated across the country and even world-wide with the click of a button. Be conscious of what you write and re-read it to make sure that it can’t be misinterpreted or given a negative slant.
Sending out a press release can be a really rewarding and a great way to promote your business. It helps you to showcase your uniqueness and tell a story which resonates with your target audience.