26th June, 2015
In a previous life, I ran workshops for charities and NFP’s who were looking to maximise their PR efforts often with little or no budgets. These workshops were always interesting and I came away thinking most of the time, these businesses didn’t need any formal training in PR, they just had to understand what makes a good story and who to tell it to. So here are my top tips for any small business that doesn’t employ a PR professional.
1 Do your homework
What sort of story are you selling – news report, feature, human interest? Is it for local/regional or nation press? What is the hook – why would anyone publish this story?
2 Know the audience
What audience does the publication or website reach? Knowing the audience will influence the details you provide.
3 Develop key messages
It’s critical to develop up to three core messages you want to communicate about your company and this should include how you are different or better than your competitors. If you don’t have a company ‘boilerplate’ or mission statement it might be time to develop one.
4 Skip the jargon
It’s easy to fall into the habit of using industry jargon and acronyms. Make a point to avoid these whenever possible. If you do need to use a term that the average person might not understand, make sure you explain it.
5 There is no such thing as ‘Off record’
No matter what a reporter says, you are never off the record. Anything you email or say could end up printed. Just be aware.
6 Be mindful of what you say
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friendly, only that every conversation is a professional encounter, not a social one.
7 Respect deadlines
Reporters work to lots of deadlines and you can earn their respect and build a relationship by adhering to them. Also, make sure you return all phone calls and e-mails promptly if you want to become a regular ‘go to’ spokesperson for your industry or sector.
8 Don’t ask to see the story
Reporters want to protect their independence. Showing a story to a source before it runs violates this, so don’t ask! However, you should offer to provide any additional information the reporter may need and offer to check key facts before publication.
Any lessons you can take away from the story will help you next time! Ask others who saw/read/heard you for feedback. This is especially true if it doesn’t get published – ask why not so you can understand for next time.
10 Keep Going
It takes time to build a relationship, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have much success at first. Be determined and develop a thick skin – you may get a long of rejection before you see anything in print!
These guidelines were written with publishers and broadcast media in mind, but many of the same principals apply to digital and social media. You are the best ‘voice’ of your business. Inject your passion for your company into your PR and you will reap the rewards!
Submitted by Enterprise First
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