By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator Of PrPro And Owner Of Energy PR

We all resolve to eat less and exercise more at the start of a year but it seems to me that January is also a key moment when businesses decide to also get their PR licked into shape. Yet few businesses actually turn that resolution into action. If that sounds like you, here are 5 simple steps to help you make a real start…

Step 1 - Think

Think about what you are trying to achieve as a business this year and who you need to reach to make this happen. Don’t simply say ‘I want to boost sales by 10% and so I need to reach more customers.’ You need to be more detailed than that. Who are the customers? Where are they located? Who’s the decision maker? What sectors are they in? What towns? Who influences their decisions?

Once you know who you need to reach and influence, think about what they currently think about you and what you want them to think. You will probably want them to understand what makes your business special. So get clear about that in your own mind. These are your key messages.

Step 2 – Media

Once you know who you need to reach, find out how they source their information. What media do they use? Do they read trade magazines, local press, ezines, are there TV or radio programmes they like or do they follow certain blogs? Are they using social media? If you’re not sure, ask them!

For instance, if you have a database of customers and prospects, why not run an incentivised questionnaire which simply gleans this information (this will save you a marketing fortune).

Once you know which media matters, get to know it and think about where your business might fit in. See how other companies are being included in that media. Spot journalists who talk about your kind of business or write on the topics that are relevant to you. Get to know their style, interests.

Step 3 - Become a Spotter!

Brainstorm with your team for all possible new angles... Here are some ideas of what they could cover:

- New product

- New service

- Company development

- Expansion

- Appointment story

- Winning of an award

- Successful raising of funds for a charity

- Special anniversary

- Securing major order

- Case study with an interesting news hook

- Presence at an exhibition

- Event, talk

- Research

- Market prediction

Aim to put out a news story every month – but ALWAYS make sure your news passes the ‘so what’ test. Don’t waste your time. If your news isn’t going to be of interest to their reader, listener or viewer, the media certainly won’t care for it either!

Don’t just think of news – if your business has experts, use them in your PR. Think about the issues or topics they could comment on and float these past your media. (Always thinking about the ‘so what’ rule before you do!)

Step 4 - Speak to Journalists

Don’t just email out your news releases – follow up with key journalists. Also try to create opportunities to get to know your media better – connect on LinkedIn, follow them on twitter and interact with them, arrange to meet them at exhibitions. Think of ways to woo them. Invite them to events, think of exclusives you can offer them.

Step 5 - Give it a go

Final piece of advice - give it a go. In my experience most people who say PR doesn’t work for them, have hardly tried. Don’t let this be you in 2012.

Follow Louise on twitter @louisefw

Louise has two businesses to help you get your PR motoring:
For more training and tools so you can do your own PR visit www.prpro.co.uk If you are looking for a PR agency visit www.EnergyPR.co.uk

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