What the heck is PR anyway?

One of my favourite quotes about PR comes from Bill Gates, who famously said:

“If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget, I’d spend it on PR!”

PR is one of the first things people ditch when times are tough when, in actual fact, they should be doing the opposite. Bill Gates is highlighting here the absolute importance of having PR as a living, breathing part of your business plan.

For me, PR is all about raising your profile in the media (and social media) and managing your 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 think they already know you. 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.  Free editorial gives you credibility. 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 said :

“Publicity is absolutely critical.  A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”

And I couldn’t agree more!

Effective PR is about 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.

Struggling to find money in your budget for PR?

Check out my DIY Your Biz PR coaching website to find out how you can get yourself in the media for free and skyrocket your visibility without hiring a PR agency.

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