This could be number one on the “most frequently asked” questions about PR! What is PR and what’s the point of it? “Manipulative”, “mysterious” and “fluffy” – these are all words that have been used to describe PR professionals, but that’s largely because the majority of people simply don’t understand what PR is all about and how it can benefit businesses.
For me, it’s about increasing someone’s profile in the media and managing their reputation. The best PR needs a constant “drip feed” of information to the press so that if your customers or potential customers ever need your product or service in the future, they will think of you before anyone else, because they’ve read about you, heard you on the radio or seen you on the television. They will see you as an expert in your field because someone else, a journalist, has taken the time to be interested in what you’re offering and has written about you. This is really the crux of it. Having someone else write or talk about you is so much more powerful than an advert, which can so often be ignored as “wallpaper”.
Richard Branson says: “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”
Another of my favourite quotes about PR comes from Bill Gates who, I think we would all agree, also knows a thing or two about running a successful business!
“If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget, I’d spend it on PR!”
These are famous quotes and you may have heard them before, but they underline the point I’m making. And who am I to argue with them?!
Effective PR is about working closely with a business and identifying stories that will interest newsdesks. Journalists aren’t interested in the entire inner workings of your business. They want to know what the story is and what makes it relevant for today or why it will make a good feature article for their publication. Don’t make it hard for them. Write simply and get to the point.
Knowing how to write a good press release or knowing how to pitch an idea is an essential requirement of anyone helping you raise your profile. Understanding how journalists work and what their deadlines are is also vital. They also need to be able to tell you honestly if something you think is interesting about your business, quite frankly isn’t.
As a journalist I see things very simply. If I’m not interested in it, I’m not going to waste my time, a client’s time or another reporter’s time pitching a story that’s not going anywhere. However, a good PR professional will suggest ways to make something into a story. They will have good contacts with the media and they will be honest about what media coverage a particular story or idea might achieve.
What do you hope to achieve from your PR? To learn a bit more about how PR and Media Relations can help your business, click here.