Do you read stories in newspapers
and trade magazines about your competitors? Perhaps you know your company
is as successful as they are with just as many positive stories to tell,
but none of the articles you have submitted have been published.
The first thing to understand is that journalists are not in the business
of providing free publicity. Their role is to produce articles of interest
to their readers, so you need to provide relevant information which they
genuinely want to publish. Different journalists write in different ways
for different audiences and it is essential to develop an understanding of
their requirements before submitting any information to them. A newspaper
distributed in one city, for example, is unlikely to be interested in your
new office in another city -- but it may well be if you explain that
you've had to recruit specialist staff from the city the newspaper is
published in, to address local skills shortages.
Efforts to secure publicity need to form part of a strategy which supports
your broader commercial objectives. Hold a meeting with your management
team -- perhaps with guidance from a PR consultant -- to explore the
rationale behind the publicity drive. For example, you may have expansion
plans which rely on being able to attract and retain high caliber staff.
You therefore have two priorities: Firstly, to position yourself as a
highly successful employer that looks after its staff, and secondly, to
ensure that customers know who you are, what you do, and why you are the
Know your Market
It's important to develop a realistic understanding of your target
audiences: Who are the decision-makers? What size companies do they work
for or run? Where are these companies based? How are they influenced? What
publications do they read? You can only hope to make a meaningful impact
on people if you know what makes them tick.
Focus on the Message
Once you've established what you want to create 'noise' about and you've prioritized
your target audiences, it's worth considering how you want to be
positioned. Seeing your company's name in print can be immensely
satisfying but if the article does not communicate specific aspects of
your service and expertise, it's unlikely to have the required effect. By
consistently describing your company in the same way and communicating
three or four unique selling points you are more likely to get your
Spread the Word
Press releases are a useful means of providing journalists with
information and a good proportion of business articles begin their life in
this way. However, journalists are bombarded with hundreds on a daily
basis so it's essential that yours stands out. A powerful headline and
first paragraph clearly identifying the news angle are fundamental. Avoid
jargon at all costs and remember KISS: Keep It Short and Simple.
Press releases are by no means the only way. Pick up the telephone and
discuss your story with the journalists you want to target. Don't lose
heart if you get an indifferent response: think of the discussion as an
opportunity to gain a better understanding of the type of commentary most
likely to impress.
Remember that pro-activity,
and perseverance, are essential. Good luck!
Davis is a Director of NB! Public Relations.
Working in the field of PR
and marketing, she has extensive
industry knowledge of recruitment and
people management arenas.
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