PR is a crucial part of business marketing, and when done right can be a cost-effective way of improving your brand’s reputation. However, it’s important to tackle PR in the right way to ensure that you see results and that the time you invest in your PR strategy pays off.
Spending time on your business’ PR is important not only for improving your reputation but for protecting your business in a crisis (such as the pandemic). Having a strong public image will help new customers find you more easily, and keep you at the forefront of their minds.
You don’t need to be a large business to attract media attention, and businesses of all sizes can benefit from a PR boost. So, if you’re ready to launch a PR campaign but don’t know where to begin, read on.
1. Build your social media presence
Social media and PR are often seen as being separate, but any platform that connects you to the public counts as part of your PR. Social media is a great place to start building your PR strategy because it’s all down to you – there’s no waiting for journalists to respond to your media releases or any chasing up to do.
As well as showcasing your business through quality content, social media allows you to be reactive with your customers, seek feedback, and do damage control on any criticisms of your brand. Responding to comments and messages will ensure that you can resolve any issues with unhappy customers quickly and effectively.
As well as this, you can encourage customer feedback through calls-to-action or interactive elements. Instagram Stories is a great place for this, as their interactive poll and Q&A buttons can allow customers to provide you with feedback effortlessly.
2. Pitch your story
Securing media coverage can be time-consuming, as more often than not you won’t hear back from a media outlet. It’s important to dust yourself off and carry on – whether an outlet picks up your story will depend on a lot of factors outside of your control, including their content plan, and whether it is timely and relevant.
However, there are some things you can do to maximise your success. Rather than sending out emails to every publication you find, carefully target publications that fit your target audience. Even if a less relevant publication ends up covering your business, you may not be reaching the right people. Once you’ve found your publications, check their pitching guidelines to make sure you tick all of their boxes.
Writing a good media release will get your message across clearly, and explain to a journalist exactly why your business would make for an interesting story. In other words, you need to make sure you are ‘newsworthy’. What are your business’ biggest achievements?
Perhaps you’ve achieved something that no one else has, or have recently won an award. If you’re struggling for a story, another great way to get coverage is to scroll through #JournoRequest on Twitter. This hashtag is full of content calls from journalists, so is a great way to secure coverage when you’re short of a story.
3. Get networking
Building good relationships with relevant members of the press will go a long way in helping you to secure media coverage. Reaching out to specific journalists from publications you want to target can help you get a better idea of what they are looking for.
Interacting with their social media can be beneficial when done right. Being genuine is key – don’t be self-promotional straight off the bat. Responding to an article they’ve written by pitching about one of your clients will come across as false. Being genuine, and only interacting when you can add value, such as responding to something specific they mention that you really engaged with, is much more useful.
Your networking efforts could also include social media influencers and other businesses that you might like to collaborate with. Securing social media mentions from individuals who share your target audience can help you to reach consumers who will genuinely be interested in your business.
Bear in mind that PR is different from paid advertising and that negotiating brand deals with influencers comes with a host of other things you need to consider. But whether you are reaching out to publications or influencers, consider that their reputation can impact yours.
4. Be patient
Securing PR can take time, and you may not see results instantly even if you are featured in a national newspaper. PR coverage will not always result in immediate sales, but remember that any coverage that you do get will help you in many other ways: building up your credibility, increasing brand awareness, and improving your online visibility. Eventually, these things will show themselves through increased sales, in a long-term and sustainable way.
No matter how much time or money you have to invest in PR, if you remain true to your brand’s message and nurture relationships with quality media contacts, you will eventually see results.
So, focusing on your business’ PR can really help to secure sustainable growth for your brand, by increasing brand awareness and improving customer relationships. If you’d like more guidance on nailing that perfect media release, you should check out our new e-learning course on ‘How to write a Media Release’.
Written by Annabel Mulliner for Little Seed Group