23/05/2011

Natural Born Thrillers

By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator of PrPro and owner of Energy PR

Ask the average business owner to name someone they think is good at PR (Public Relations) and they will typically suggest Richard Branson. In fact I’d put money on his name being mentioned 7 out of 10 times!

Yes, Mr Branson is undoubtedly good at PR – but actually the reason he is so often mentioned is that he’s not exactly got stiff competition!

Populist business programmes such as Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice have turned Lord Sugar, Theo, Duncan, Peter et al into media business-babes, but in reality there are still relatively few business owners who are PR naturals.

There are three key reasons for this.

Priorities

The first is that business owners and entrepreneurs for the most part simply don’t prioritise PR. They see it as a necessary evil, which someone else in their team can handle.

Inhibitions

Secondly with a parent company, commercial partners, investors or shareholders to worry about, many CEOs are very inhibited. This results in them being rather dull, middle of the road and unquotable. Indeed haven’t you noticed that business people, rather like politicians, become much more interesting and media friendly once they retire, because they can at long last say what they think - and stray from the party line. Able to ‘shoot from the lip’ they suddenly seem much more like a rounded, normal person and less of a pin-striped automaton. The find their humour and relax!

Access

The final nail in the coffin that prevents CEOs from being good at PR is that they are often screened from the media. In the case of big companies there are layers of marketing teams, brand managers and comms departments in place to manage the media. Like a celeb surrounded by massive minders, the CEO is shielded from the media’s prying eyes by a barrage of PR professionals. With access limited, and comments carefully screened and managed, it is very difficult for the personality of the CEO to shine through.

But just because these factors blight the media attractiveness of our major corporate leaders, that doesn’t mean the leaders of small and medium sized businesses need to follow suit. In fact they shouldn’t!

PR is a powerful, free tool. It gives a business owner or Chief Exec the opportunity to get across their vision, the company’s personality, its standards, approach and expertise. A business leader who dominates their respective media leads us to assume that their business is by default the dominant player too. We assume it’s the market leader, the most expert, the best, the most authoritative. And with PR, all of this power, authority and leadership is communicated at a fraction of the cost of advertising.

So don’t hide your light under a bushel…unleash your inner Branson!

A quick checklist to help you become a media pundit…

- Prioritise the media – the media operates to deadlines so respect them.

- Lead from the front – don’t belittle the media as the rest of your team will take their cue from you.

- Treat the media like the most important people in your network.

- Be honest – an exclusive is not an exclusive if you have given the story to someone else too.

- Stay in touch – find reasons to speak to the media, catch up over a coffee at exhibitions.

- Make them feel valued – for instance if you run a restaurant, invite them to try your new recipes ahead of your menu change, if you run a factory, give them special opportunities to see your new plant/kit before the rest of the world.

- Be helpful – if the media comes to you for a comment and it’s really not your ‘bag’ is there someone else you can suggest?

- Be quotable – have an opinion, provide sound bites they can use, don’t slander your competition but do get off the fence!!

- Be ready – keep an eye on the news agenda and let your media know if you are able to comment on issues.

If you want to find out more about how you can make your business famous visit www.prpro.co.uk or contact me Louise@prpro.co.uk / 01993 825916 / @louisefw


Watch the video below featuring Jo Ray, Product Marketing and Strategy Director at Sage discussing about how not to recruit in your own image.

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