Public Relations…The underutilised marketing tool

Public Relations featured

Public Relations is everything you say.

It’s everything you do.

It’s everything people say about you. 

Before you start laying the foundations to kick off your Public Relations journey, it is important to understand what public relations is and how you can use it. Public Relations is:

  • Any activity that keeps your brand or you top of mind in a positive way
  • Not just about the media…brand messaging & positioning, awards and speaking engagements, social media, media training, thought leadership, blogging, content marketing
  • Earned media
  • Third party endorsement
  • Not a solution if you want a quick fix
  • Used in conjunction with other marketing tools

There are thousands of journalists worldwide on the lookout for good stories – they want your stories.  The problem is you probably think you have nothing to say, or you are not sure how to go about reaching out to the media, or you think you need to employ an agency to help you.

The good news is all of the reasons you think you can’t and not sure about, are not true. What if you could learn how to DIY public relations by learning the basics – how to find a story, develop a public relations plan, write a media release, know where to send and then be comfortable being interviewed?

You do not need to employ a Public Relations agency to do your public relations; you can DIY public relations. Journalists would rather hear from you anyway – you are the one totally invested in your business, you know your stuff and that is the person they want to hear from.

Public Relations is no longer the sole domain of big business.  Journalists want to share news of all types…and what you have to share they want to hear about. Small business is an integral part of the economy; you are innovator, a leader, a mover and shaker, you stand out because you got off your behind and put everything on the line to create something for yourself.  Share that passion with more people.

Public Relations is something that can be used by ANY business, not just big organisations with PR departments, not just those who have big marketing budgets. That means YOU…yes little old you with the one-person show.  Public Relations is ideal for those without a big marketing budget because the action of doing PR generated free media coverage and publicity.

Public Relations is not just about the media coverage you get but the relationships you establish with your audience, clients, and other stakeholders through networking, speaking gigs, social media, blogs and other interactions.  Public Relations is about communicating with the audiences that matter to you.  You are probably doing PR without even realising it – your content marketing, the posts on Facebook and Twitter, your LinkedIn profile, the talk you did at the local networking group…

Public Relations can benefit your business in many ways…and can dovetail with your current marketing plan. Public Relations helps get you noticed, build your reputation and profile. Chances are many of your competitors have not considered PR as a strategy either – so it sets you apart.

Answer these questions… Do you want to boost your brand profile? Do you want more people to know about you? Do you want people to have a clearer understanding of what you do? Do you want to stand out against your competitors? Do you want more customers and clients? Do you want to be seen as an expert in your field?

Yes? A Public Relations campaign will help you achieve this.

Why your business needs Public Relations

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/2556824561/

Public Relations can raise your profile. Through networking – connecting with like-minded people and potential clients, sponsoring events and causes – showing your community spirit and good will, newsletters and content marketing – sharing your knowledge and expertise.

Public Relations can publicise what makes your business special…and for free.

How’s this for a list of the powerful benefits of using public relations?

  • establishes you as an expert in your field
  • you stand apart from your competitors who think public relations is not for them
  • create a strong brand
  • potential clients are “pre-sold” when they call you; you have already gone a long way to building trust
  • people will pay more for your skills and expertise
  • people want to work with you because you are seen as credible
  • potential clients are visiting your website already eager
  • the publicity from public relations is free while advertising can be expensive
  • a media article gives more credibility than a paid ad
  • other media read the articles and call you instead of you calling them
  • larger newspapers and magazines and TV programs start to call you
  • you get offered columns and blogs
  • more people want joint venture or partner with you
  • easier to get your products to be sold by others
  • you get invited to speak at seminars, conferences and workshops
  • start charging for your speaking gigs
  • generate new products and services
  • sales explode and new markets open up
  • more traffic to your website
  • opportunities to licence your products
  • you become a media star and people recognise you
  • you win awards for your products/services and your contribution to the business community
  • you get offered big bucks to sell your business

How To Be Delectable To The Media – Become A Local Star

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Source: https://flic.kr/p/64ooAz

 

There are so many workshops, seminars, programs and experts out there saying how they can help your business be the biggest and best.  As a small business person, that’s what you want. Chances are though, you’ve sat in this courses and felt overwhelmed. How do you take all that information and use it to achieve your goals?

The ‘experts’ make it sound so easy – find a story, write a media release, send it out, PRESTO you are in the paper…on TV…you’ve got your 15 minutes of fame. You’ve made it and you are now rolling in the cash and have oodles of clients. Right?

When it comes to the crunch and you have to go do it yourself; it’s a whole other ballgame.  I imagine it would be a bit like the first time I went bungy jumping.  Standing there 60 metres above a swimming pool, knees knocking, stomach churning and wanting to run the other way. It was scary. Doing anything the first time can be scary especially if it is outside your comfort zone.

I bet you’ve spent bucket loads on workshops and courses trying to figure out how to be a media star and get the thousands of dollars of free publicity we (us experts) tell you can get!

The process for doing your own Public Relations IS straightforward. It really is a simple formula BUT the real key to success is making sure you stand out from all the others who are also sending compelling and newsworthy stories. You have to do more than just send out a good story. PR is so much more than just media relations.

You need to elevate your story above all others. You are in a sea of amazing stories – we all have one – what you need to do to become delectable to the media.  Don’t just engage with your story, help the journalist connect with you as a person. So you are not just a name on media release but someone who has triumphed, overcome adversity, achieved, fought the good fight, helped others…etc. You get the picture?

Here are a few ways you can raise your profile so the media is interested in YOU.

Public speaking

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/10428928546/

You may be deathly afraid of standing up in front of others (don’t worry, I have never heard of anyone dying from public speaking). When no one knows you, this is a great way to get noticed.  Volunteer to speak at trade expos, business networking events, seminars, and business breakfasts. You get to share your knowledge and help and inspire others, build your confidence and (here’s where the PR comes in) your names and business details are included in all the promo materials, shared with the event’s audience (that you have not had to pay for).  Overcoming a fear of public speaking will also boost your self-confidence, raise your profile and get invited to speak at bigger events.

Speaking at events where your customers/clients are likely to attend helps position you as a leader or innovator in your field. As a business owner or leader, building your reputation as an expert also builds the reputation of your business – and draws new people to you. Events are valuable promotional opportunities even if you don’t have top billing as a speaker.

Blogging

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This is your platform to write about your business, your observations of your industry or your area of expertise. You can use your blog to review products, share your news and comment on current issues. Be real and write like you.  Competition is tight… and blogging is a good platform for you to stand out using your voice and to offer your content to other bloggers.  There are journalist who subscribe to blogs to find news stories and interesting topics – so make sure you team your with an RSS feed so it shows up in the news feeds (also tap into your keywords for SEO purposes).

Enter and win awards

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Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rdecom/11674055483/

The media love a winner. You can get some great media coverage just by being nominated for an award. There are hundreds of different types of awards out there from small business awards to Mumpreneur and technology awards.

DIY Public Relations is really not as hard as it sounds

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https://flic.kr/p/hAcPRk

Once you have the basics under control, public relations is a very powerful tool. Let’s face it, if you can string some words together, you can write a media release. If you can pick up the phone to talk to a prospective customer, you can ring a journalist. If you have ever sat through a job interview, you have the communication skills necessary to be interviewed by a journalist…Got it?

You can do this.

Why should you be considering public relations as a marketing strategy? Because it could be worth thousands of dollars of FREE advertising for your business. When you buy an ad in a paper, radio, TV, there is a dollar value attached to that space/time.

What does that mean? Your quarter page story on page five of the local paper is worth $5,000 in advertising space (you got it for free). Your three-minute story on A Current Affair is worth over $150,000. Free advertising. When people see your story in the media, it is like someone else saying ‘Hey, check out this business, they are awesome.’ Whereas advertising is YOU saying you are awesome and we are all rather sick of people blowing their own horn.

If you do play your cards right – by learning how to find newsworthy stories in your business (you have them), how to write a compelling media release, and how to find media contacts – a world full of opportunities will open up for you.

Using public relations as a marketing strategy does not always pay off. A journalist can never guarantee a story will run, but when it does run, the returns can be incredible.

Here are three quick and easy tips on how to DIY Public Relations:

  1. Start small – try your local paper with a local news angle. Local papers are great place to cut your Public Relations teeth; comment on a local issue that impacts small business or how the problem your business solves for locals.
  2. Stay away from mass distribution – make your approach personal. Go to the effort to find out the journalist’s name and send a personal email.
  3. Persistence – follow up your email with a phone call. If you leave a message, call back (just don’t be a pest). If the journalist does not get back to you, chances are they are not interested. Try again next month with a different story angle.

Annette Densham is the Founder of Publicity Genie and helps small businesses get in the media. You can contact her at www.publicitygenie.com

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