Join Jane Barratt for an in-depth discussion in this video Basics of PR, part of Advertising Foundations.
- Public relations has long been one of the most misunderstood tools in the wider marketing toolkit, and, like most of the marketing world, it's been significantly disrupted by the digital revolution. There's long existed a thought that PR is unpaid advertising, so, to get one thing clear, no journalist ever went into their profession because they wanted to write about your business. They want to write news, and, if what your business is doing is news, that's great, that's PR, so, how do you define what's news? The first place to start is to look at the sort of media that makes sense for you.
Industry verticals, general business TV shows, business websites, or community radio shows all could be great outlets for you sharing your news, but who is going to see these stories? Think of all the stakeholders you have for your business. Unless a media channel speaks to your customers, or employees, or future employees, or other stakeholders, like investors, it's not for you. List out your stakeholders, and then list all the media outlets that you think that they read, watch, or visit regularly.
Now, here's the tricky part. Journalists know that you want them to write about you, and they generally don't like the process of being pitched, so be useful to them. Provide information when asked, be professional, and not stalk-ery, and, when the time comes that you need their help, be clear about what you're asking for, and why your story is news, and, whatever you do, don't email-blast them. Take the time to personalize your pitch, and follow up, and if they don't write, ask why.
The average business journalist sees hundreds of badly-written pitches every day. Don't make yours one of them. Th-urn, to get started, I recommend that you have three things, a basic Press Release, Q and A documentation, and some press training. A basic Press Release tells a story that you want your company to tell, with quotes from key people, and the call to action of what you want readers to do. Many companies post their Press Releases directly on their site, so you can find thousands of examples, many of which follow a very similar formula.
The next document I recommend you prepare is a basic Q and A. Imagine you're a journalist, and you want to learn about your company. What questions would you ask? Write these in plain and compelling language, and make sure everyone in your company can answer those questions clearly and consistently. Next is press training. You want your team to be able to answer questions that are asked of them, but it's not advisable to have them talk to the press. Press inquiries should be directed to someone who is authorized to speak on behalf of your company, and who, preferably, has been press trained.
Press training is the art of not directly answering the questions that are asked, but giving the best answer to serve your company. When people have been trained well, you can't even tell that they're doing it. There's online tutorials and videos with the basics, but you'll also find a lot of journalists do press training as a side hustle. If you plan on being in the spotlight, it's a great investment. Last, a great tool to use, if you're not ready for your own PR agent or advisor, is helpareporterout.com.
It's an online database with free and paid services, where journalists list the stories that they need quotes for, and you can submit quotes for those stories. It's simple, right? Being quoted as an expert in relevant stories is great for your reputation, as well as for your search results. Having said all this, a great PR partner can be worth their weight in gold. They can do everything that I've outlined in this video, so far, but the good ones have something much more useful, existing relationships with the press. This will save you considerable time pitching people who may have no interest in you, but how are you to know that? A good trick is to follow someone who you think gets great press in your field, and ask them who do they use? They may not want to share their person or agency with you, so at least find out how they found them, and then go start a search of your own.
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- Defining your audience
- Crafting your message
- Placing your ad
- Establishing a digital, competitive, and editorial presence
- Working with advertising partners
- Working with an ad agency