Ok, so you’re in business and you want to be successful?
Good! We get that, but how are you going to do it?
A great product or service and a lot of hard work for sure, but how are you going to find your customers? Some might just stumble across you, others may have heard about you from your friends and family, but for that world domination you’re aiming for… is this really enough?
If you follow this blog you will know we are big believers in the need for a solid marketing strategy to help grow your business. You will also know that part of this marketing strategy is about how you present your company to the market and how you continue to manage this.
Public Relations (PR) can be a big part of this!
So, what are you going to do to raise your company profile?
There are lots of companies out there who shy away from Public Relations (PR) thinking it’s not for them or they are far too small to be taken seriously, but we disagree, we believe there comes a time in every companies lifecycle when they need to bite the bullet and raise their head above the parapet. Now, we aren’t just thinking of Public Relations (PR) for the sake of it. We want to get your message out there to the right audiences.
We need to keep a strategic focus on your Public Relations (PR) activities for it to have the best possible return. For the purposes of this blog, however, we are going to assume you already understand who your target audience is and have your message locked down (if you don’t then check out our blog on the importance of Segmenting your market, identifying key Targets and then Positioning your company appropriately - or STP for short).But, what are you going to do?
What have you got that is interesting and newsworthy?
Well, you’re in luck! Today’s blog is going to give you 10 specific things you can do. Not 10 high level, theoretical steps telling you that you need a plan and then leave you wondering what you still need to do. Below we have mapped out a list of 10 actions you should consider right now to see if they would work for your company. Read through these 10 items and see them as the start of your Public Relations (PR) plan.
10 Steps To Get Your Public Relations (PR) Started
1. New Appointments
This is an easy one for you to get started. Have you any new starts in the last few months at a middle to senior level? If so, you can send in a head and shoulders photo and a short biography (bio) to the local appointment pages.
Now a good tip here is to look at each of the local publications from newspapers to magazines and note how they do it and what style they have. Some may have a list of bullet points with name, position, company, leaving from, etc and others may have a short 100 words or so in a paragraph.
Take the time to understand how each publication does it and then give them the information in their format - not yours!
If you have a very senior appointment then by all means elevate the piece and draft a short press release. For the rest, do yourself and your local media a favour and just give them the information they need in the format they use. Don’t over egg it! If you’re sending out a few then maybe send different pics to different media? Mix it up a bit!
Another way to look at ‘Appointments’ is if you have decided to employ a batch of new new staff. This is a great reason to draft a press release to demonstrate the success and growth of your company.
2. New Premises
Once again, a bit like new appointments, if you have recently moved to new premises then you could try to raise profile through this. Now, unless you have moved to somewhere really distinctive the new office isn’t really the story, what is newsworthy is your reason for the move.
Why have you moved will be the first question on a journalist’s lips? So what are the reasons? Have you a growth story to talk about? Are you moving because you envisage taking on 50 additional staff in the next year or so and need somewhere to put them? Have you increased your export sales by 40% and need a bigger warehouse to accommodate the new orders?
If you have a good news story which you think a journalist might be interested in then by all means issue a press release to this end. Another twist on this idea is if you decide to have an opening ceremony or a launch event to welcome your clients to the new premises. Perhaps you could invite a local politician or someone well known from the local community to officially open the building? Would this be a big enough draw for your local media? Even if you have no success going down this route make sure you have photographs from the evening and submit them to some of more ‘social’ pages. This can be a sure fire way to increase your exposure.
3. New Products / Services
Perhaps your business has invented a new product or a completely new way of doing something. Could this be used to help promote the business as an innovator? Does this answer any problems for your customers? Will it help your business to grow and employ more staff?
Another way of looking at this is if you are in the services industry and you have decided to offer a new service line. This is another great reason to raise your profile and the first port of call should be to issue a press release (perhaps you have hired in a heavy hitter from the market? - if so, see point one!) to let everyone know what you have done and why.
Now, I have to be honest here and temper your enthusiasm. You may well go down this route, draft your press release take some lovely photos to only have it shot down by a journalist saying it is too commercial and you need to speak to the advertising department.
This quite often happens so you just need to persevere. Don’t badger the person who has just knocked you back but don’t lose your resolve either. Work out an answer to this and keep going. You could well find someone still willing to run it as news. Failing this, or at least once you have exhausted this route, then you could consider the possibility of paying for a company announcement - but not before!
If your business has achieved some significant milestones in the last year this could be equally significant for the local market. Have your sales figures doubled? What about your exports? Even employment levels. Have you achieved a significant turnover level? This would be especially true if you work in an industry which doesn’t disclose certain information.
If you decide that at a strategic level this will help you rather than hinder you, perhaps an exclusive with a high profile media outlet or journalist could give you some major coverage (not just now but in the future as well!).
So, if you have some good news about your business get the news out there. If your audience sees you are doing well you will increase your credibility with them and they will increase their confidence in you. Similarly, if someone is considering buying from you this will give them another good nudge in the right direction.
As much as people like to gossip about bad news, in life people also have a habit of noting the successful ones and as long as you do this in a dignified manner you will be helping your brand no end! But once again, as above the story isn’t just about you, think past this and get the message across about what this actually means for your business and the local market.
5. Contract Wins
The good old “deal” release is still alive and well and serving the local media to great effect. If you have just signed a significant deal with a new customer, client or even supplier ask yourself if this is worthy of a news release. Make sure you involve the other party, include them in the photocall and give them a quote - after all your hard work winning them you don't want to fall out with them just because of your PR activities!
Another big tip is to disclose the value. Most people shy away from this but one of the first questions a journalist will ask is, “How Much?”. We accept that there may be legal restrictions or even client confidentialities to consider but if you can and are allowed to announce value then this is a definite plus point in terms of getting your story covered.
6. Senior Executive Profiling
If you decide to raise profile in the local media you should also think about how you build the profile of your senior executive(s). Ideally, this will be focused and not a case of trying to raise the profile of six or seven directors. Forget about egos and start off with one, most probably the Chief Executive, and build out from here depending on the size and scale of the business. Find out what they are passionate about in both your business and the local community.
Draft a briefing document outlining who they are, a bit about their history and achievements, what their ethos in business is and do all this within the context of your business/ industry, etc. Draw up a quick plan on the types of coverage you want to achieve for them over the next six months to a year and then set up a series of meet and greets with local journalists.
Make sure you don’t go in asking for something in return, this is just a way to introduce your person to the media and introduce the types of things they may be able to talk about in the future. If you think they need some media training beforehand then make sure they get it. because if this person is to be the face of your business then they need to be able to do it right. You also need to make sure they are in all the photos and give all the quotes in your news releases during the year.
Make sure you work out what type of voice you want them to have and what it is you want to achieve with them over the next year or so.
7. Market Commentary
You can go about this two ways. One, you can initiative your own commentary based on your own observations, experiences or research, or secondly, you can position yourself as the ‘go-to’ person for specific topics. Perhaps the government has issued new figures on the state of the market? At a high level this could be an observation on the state of the economy and how this will affect your industry.
Alternatively, new figures could have been released on your industry and you could provide insight and commentary on what these figures mean for businesses just like yours. If you have a specific “Opinion” on a certain matter pull your thoughts together and approach a few journalists to see if they would like an “Opinion Piece” on the subject. Once they say yes then you can start the hard work and actually draft it. Even if they don't want it yet you still care passionately about whatever it is you have an opinion on, write it up and put it on your blog/ social media.
At least your own audience will see it now and and perhaps, who knows, a local journalist might consider running it.
8. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) News
We all know that businesses are a key stakeholder in the local community, however, not every business gets involved and does their bit. If your business gives something back be sure to consider using it to promote the ‘caring’ aspect of your business.
Even if it is just a simple sponsorship of a local football team there are plenty of photo opportunities around.
Are you any good? That’s what all your customers and potential customers want to know. Well, in that case, have you won any awards lately? Has your business been recognised in some shape or form for being the best at something? Some companies base their whole marketing on winning awards and then bragging about them all year. Whilst we wouldn’t advocate this, it can be worthwhile identifying a few key awards in your area and then make a few submissions.
We know award submissions can be hard work but let’s be honest, you aren’t going to win too many awards by not entering them! So look up your local Chamber of Commerce, your council, your industry body, etc, etc and see what there is that you could have a reasonable hope of winning.
But don’t just throw any old rubbish at them. If you want to be taken seriously give them the information they want in the format they have asked for it in, however, make sure you also think a bit deeper and consider the audience your are communicating with. Think about whatever it is you think they need to hear whilst considering you for the award. Also try to envisage the ‘typical’ answers that most people will make and try to give them something more.
A well constructed awards submission could be the difference between winning and losing. Even if you do lose it shouldn’t be seen as a waste of time. Drafting an awards submission document is forcing you to pull all of your good news together into one place. This is an extremely useful document to have at your disposal in the future.
Another slightly off topic way to increase profile for both you and your company is to join a few associations and get involved. If you identify a few key organisations you want to be a part of then join them and ask them how you can be more involved. By getting involved you will get to know other people in market and you will start to build your network. Perhaps you will end up chairing a committee or perhaps become president of the organisation?
All of this brings with it the chance to increase your profile with both the organisation’s members but also the local media when the association raises its own profile. Given the fact it is an association and therefore not really selling anything in a commercial fashion the chances of coverage is usually pretty good.
So, there you go. 10 things for you to consider to kick start your public relations (PR) plan. None of it is rocket science but then again marketing never really is! Just use a bit of common sense coupled with some clear thought and hard graft and you will be well on your way to raising your company profile.
It is important that you don’t see this list as a definitive list as there are plenty more ways you can go about raising your company profile.
If you would like to discuss your company’s public relations (PR) in more detail, by all means get in touch and drop us a line and if you have tried any of these ideas (or indeed any others not on the list), please make sure to leave your comments below.