Public relations - Building good relationships with the company’s various publics by obtaining favorable publicity, building up a good "corporate image," and handling or heading off unfavorable rumors, stories, and events.
Let's talk a little bit about the Public Relations (PR) function and how it should be a critical element in your marketing plan. We will also take a look at a few examples.
What is Public Relations?
Public Relations, or PR, is the overall term for marketing activities that raise the public's consciousness about a product, service, individual or issue. In short, PR is the management of a company's public image that helps the public understand the company and its products.
Public relations is most effective when it is viewed as a strategic management function supporting the business goals of the organization. PR can use all the same communications tools as in other areas of marketing.
A healthy public relations strategy must permeate all aspects of the business. The PR mechanism itself exists in all organizations--whether formally managed or not. Every communication to the outside world (and even the world inside your organization!) creates an impression, causes an emotional reaction, or makes a statement about who you are and what values you hold dear. Managing those impressions, reactions, and statements should be taken seriously by operating within a carefully planned, executed, and measured PR strategy.
As the Marketing Plan comes from the Business Plan, so must a Public Relations Plan come from a strong Marketing Plan. Your Public Relations program should be planned, executed carefully, and measured to ensure success.Publicity: An important part of PR
Publicity also aims to create interest in a person, product, idea, organization, or business establishment generally through the generation and placement of favorable stories in the news media such as newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio.
Unlike advertising which relies on purchasing power to get a message across, publicity relies solely on the quality of content to persuade others to get the message out. Good publicity helps journalists find and report legitimate news that is important to their audience. Anyone can buy advertising space but not just anyone can earn the respect of media in order to establish an effective PR campaign.
The primary tool of publicity is the press release, or news release.
How to write press releases and manage effective PR campaigns
A very important part of any PR plan is gaining press coverage. The first step in getting media attention is to establish and build a database of press contacts and editors of industry journals, magazines, and trade publications. Maintaining relationships with these press contacts is very important. Often these press contacts will let you know about upcoming features within their publications and ask you to submit materials such as press releases and articles. This type of working relationship is important because it can often lead to press coverage that money can't buy. For the cost of a piece of letterhead, photo, envelope, and stamp you may be able to get exposure greater than what you could get from thousands of dollars worth of advertising.
It is equally important to write effective press releases and send them out to media contacts on a regular basis. As with advertising or any other type of marketing communication, creating an attention-grabbing headline that crystallizes the information in one sentence usually makes the difference between a press release that gets read and one that gets tossed into the waste paper basket. Once you've captured attention with an effective headline, you need to get to the main point immediately (describe the "who", "what", "when", "where", "why", and "how") and then provide more detail deeper down in the press release. Once you've established the fact that the information is relevant to the reader (usually an editor or producer), then they will read the details to learn more and determine whether or not your release is worthy of them covering.
Although editors will usually edit the information to fit their needs, writing effective news releases is a very important step in gaining publicity. These days, video news releases are also becoming popular, but there is no substitute yet for tried-and-true written news releases.
Writing feature articles
You should also consider writing your own articles and submitting them to editors so they may publish the article(s) in their publications. This is a highly effective PR tactic that not only helps others identify you as an expert in your field, but such articles also serve to educate your market, increase the visibility of your company, and may be an excellent way to find new customers for your business.
When you write a feature article, make sure the content matches the editorial slant of the publication and custom-tailor the article to the publication's readership. Also, never submit an article to more than one industry publication at a time. Most publications require exclusive material and if the article manages to get published by more than one competitive publication, you have probably just burned bridges with the editors of those publications. Sometimes, however, publications will allow you to retain the copyrights to the article and will print the article on a "one time reprint rights" basis which would then allow you to submit it to other publications on the same terms. Make sure you know the rules of the publication first and ask for the Author's Guidelines before you begin.
An article written and submitted to a trade journal which subsequently published it. Most times you will be able to have a short biography or contact information section at the end of the article. This is a useful tool that can act as a "miniature advertisement".
Be known as an information resource within your industry
Once you start to become known as a subject expert and a source for industry information, authors may choose to interview you for story background or even feature your company or your products by writing their own editorial about you. In such cases, authors or editors will contact you and ask you to provide information or background for the article. Getting mentioned or being quoted in a major industry article can be a great boost for you and your business. It is highly desirable for editors and authors to contact you to get information for articles they are writing and when they do, it is a sure sign that your PR campaign is effective. In these cases it is important to work with the editor to provide as much accurate information as possible.
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