26/09/2012

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

I am asked by so many small businesses if there is anything they can do for themselves on the PR front. They can’t afford a PR agency but want to do something. So I thought I'd share some quick tips on how to inject one aspect of PR, media relations, into your business.

Preparation

- Work out who you are trying to reach. Are your audience prospective customers? Are they consumers, if so what are they like? If you sell to other businesses, what industry sectors are your prospects in, what influences their decisions?

- Think about what you want the audience to do and what they must they think about your business in order to do it.

- Think about what makes your business special – your USPs as these will be things your PR should emphasise

- Then identify what media does this audience use to get its information - specialist media, national press, radio, online local media?

- Look at or listen to that media, get really familiar with it to understand what kind of material it carries, its style, and how you could fit in

Spotting News

Once you have done this preparation you now need to think about how to get the media talking about you. The most common way of trying to get a story in the media is through the news (or press) release. As the name suggests, a news release talks about something new that is happening. It could be the:

- Opening of a new restaurant

- Launch of a new hair product

- Creation of a new service for deaf people

- Expansion of a firm into new premises

- Appointment of a new chief executive

- Winning of an award

- Successful raising of funds for a charity

- Special anniversary

- Securing major order

- A joint venture with another firm

The secret is to remember that the editor always has their reader/audience in mind. So you have got to package your story to have maximum audience appeal. Always ask ‘Why will the reader/listener care? What’s in it for them?’

Also issue your stories promptly - don’t insult your media with old news!

Writing the News Release

Once you have identified your news story and you are confident it passes the audience’s ‘why should I care test’ you need to put it into a press release format. Here’s how you do it.

- 2 sides of A4 maximum

- Double line spacing or 1.5 line spacing for longer stories

- Eye catching headline – upper case and centre it

- First paragraph – the first sentence of the press release should be punchy – not too many words. This together with the rest of the first paragraph should sum up the whole story. i.e. the who, what, why, when, where and how. This paragraph should be able to stand alone without further explanation. So if the editor cuts the rest of the release, your story (while short) will still make sense

- Second paragraph – this builds on the first and carries significant facts

- And so on

Sending out News

Then send the press release to the media (via email) and follow up with some of your key journalists to see if there is anything else they need. Some people like to call the media first to ‘sell in the story’ and then send it to them. Either way is fine. Adopt whichever approach works for you.

Aim to put out a news story every month – or more often than that if you have masses of genuine news.

This isn’t the end of it. There are many other things you could do on the media front. You can try to get bigger features and target the media’s own scheduled features, run competitions, have photo-led stories, do joint initiatives with your media, set up face to face briefings and so forth. However, don’t try to do it all at once. To be honest, if you just start to put out your news systematically, it will be a quantum leap forward from having no PR at all.

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