One of the most ridiculous (but fun) portrayals of the public relations (PR) profession is the infamous PR agent Eddy from the hit UK TV show, Absolutely Fabulous who along with her partner in crime Patsy are swanning around getting up to absurd antics and doing very little work. Eddie said about her job when asked by daughter what she does for a living…
Saffy: ‘I’m sorry, Mum, but I’ve never seen what you actually do?’
Eddy: “I PR…. things! People. Places. Concepts!”
My mum always says I get paid to talk for a living which is partly true but those of us in PR know that there’s a huge amount of hard work and strategy that goes on behind the scenes for every piece of media coverage that is generated for a business.
One of the unique strengths of PR is its ability to economically communicate messages to many different business sectors and audiences. Using PR can help you communicate and publicise the strengths of your business or brand through appropriate media, thereby contributing to its continued success.
But how do you as a business owner work out what is a good story? And then who do you pitch it to and how?
Read on to find out our top tips to get good PR.
Why do you need a good story?
First and foremost is to have a good story that shows your company or brand in a positive light.
Journalists aren’t interested in simply advertising your product, they want an interesting story that will entertain their audience – is it a first in your locality, nationally, globally as this can pique interest with media.
Put the new in news
Try to find a news hook to ensure your story is newsworthy – for example are you the first in your area/ state/ country/ globally to have this innovation, product, or idea?
Is there a milestone you can work with, such as your 1000th sale or perhaps your business has just won an award, a big contract, made a new appointment or doing a publicity stunt?
People relate to people
Look through any media channel and most stories are about people. Personal examples or testimonials reinforce your story and work well as a news hook. We sometimes call these ‘case studies’, where you use someone to help tell your story.
If you can’t use testimonials then think about using statistics or ‘Newsjack’ which means highjack / add your brand into a story that’s aired in the media – afternoon and evening news shows often need a local or new twist on a story and if you can pitch it you can turn the focus your way.
For example, if celebrities or other brands are doing something that aligns with your business/products/service you can give examples or evidence to support your take on a story and give further life to the story in your favour.
Then once it’s aired and the media have put on their socials, you share it on your social media to get even more exposure.
Timing is everything
If you don’t have a specific date to work with, have no fear; there are so many commemorative days throughout the year to borrow from. From Father’s Day to World Chocolate Day there is almost certainly a date you can use.
So, think about if you can tie your story or news with an event or specific date. For example, if you had a chocolate story you might want to tie in your story to World Chocolate Day (was on 7th July for those who’d like to know).
By doing this you’re increasing the relevance and timeliness of your story.
You have got your story, so what next?
Once you’ve got your story, you may want to write a press release.
Keep it short and succinct, journalists get hundreds of press releases everyday so the key is to have a strong story and sell it well with easy to follow arrangements for an imaginative photo or vision.
In your release include what is happening , when, where, how the event/ product came to be and give evidence to why yours is the next big thing, quote your spokesperson and a supporter / customer quote can help too, and finish with details on who to contact for more information.
If there’s a photo or vision opportunity list where, when and who will be available for the media to interview.
Compelling Key messages
When you’re working on your press release think about what you want your take home message to be.
In PR we devise and use cogent and compelling key messages to summarise the image we want to convey. The key messages can vary according to the opportunity and the target audience. Crucially, they can be used to differentiate your business from its competitors, helping to build a strong brand identity and a competitive advantage.
Most external communications activities contain 3-4 key messages expressed in an implicit rather than explicit format. Weave your key messages into quotes from your spokesperson where possible.
Think about the visual
Can you suggest a creative photo or some vision to add to the story? Always offer an interview opportunity and for radio or TV, explain why the interviewee is good talent.
Make sure you provide links to other interviews or mention other interviews because this will give the producer or editor confidence that you will make their show entertaining / informative.
If you are pitching a photo opportunity, make sure to provide all the key information to the journalist such as what is happening, who can be interviewed and a time and a place to get the photo/vision.
Which journalist to approach
Do your homework to make sure your story is relevant to the journalist you’re pitching it to. Make sure you read/watch the media you are approaching and link your story to what they are covering or what their audience wants. Depending on the strength of your story, you could offer it to one journalist as an ‘exclusive’ if they can offer substantial coverage in return
How to approach a journalist
Most journalists we speak to still prefer an email with a follow up call or text.
One method we suggest is to tag your email with a read receipt and a follow up time so you know when they opened it and can then follow up with them that day or the next.
When you email them, outline your key points briefly as dot points or in bold at the top of your email and attach or provide links to more detail. This will catch their attention straight away.
Like any business they have busier times of day, so don’t call during on air times for a radio or TV journalist, or right on print deadline if it’s not an urgent story for print media.
We hope these tips her our fellow SA woman to shine in the media!
CONNECT WITH SARAH:
Facebook: Profiler PR
LinkedIn: Sarah Coligan
Sarah (aka Sars) is passionate about ideas and achieving exceptional communications wins for clients and brings 26 years of experience to Profiler PR team as Managing Director. She has worked in senior communications management roles at national companies such as Telstra and Ericsson and managed her own PR business, where she led campaigns for Thoroughbred Racing SA’s 26 clubs and 45 feature events each year.
The City of Adelaide, Thoroughbred Racing Sa, Helping Hand Aged Care, and LJ Hooker Real Estate are among the other varied organisations to have benefited from Sarah’s expertise over the years. Sarah holds tertiary qualifications that include a Diploma of Financial Planning, an Executive Certificate in Marketing, a Graduate Diploma in PR, and a Bachelor of Arts (Communications).