Public relations – how to make your business well known

Without a clear strategy you will lose an abundance of opportunities of doing PR that will not come back, you will react too slowly and lessen the impact of what you are doing.

How to succeed with PR

To be able to swiftly react to news you really have to know what you are aiming for with your PR activities. What's your target group? What's your message? Who's your spokesperson? What issues do you want to be associated with?

Whenever headline news is associated with what you do, contact media and make a statement. Journalists are keen to hear from companies involved in the sector.

Contact news agencies

Whenever there is news you would like to comment on call news agencies immediately and make a statement. The earlier you call the higher the likelihood of you being quoted.

Focus on developments in your area

What's being debated in parliament? What events are taking place? Inform journalists about news in your company that are related to what's going on and issues being debated. Don’t forget to give them background, facts and comments.

Scoops give opportunities

Whenever a newspaper has a scoop you can give them additional information and your points of view. Journalists will be keen to publish what you say since you prove that their scoop really was remarkable.

Take advantage of lack of headline news

When there is lack of news it's easy to get an interesting story published. And getting your company in the papers during the weekends is not as difficult as during the week. It’s not for nothing that Wikileaks always release their documents on Fridays. Always be prepared to take advantage of not much happening in the world by having press releases and articles ready to submit. And make sure that spokespersons are available to comment.

Anniversaries and jubilees are good occasions

An easy way to start a press release is by stating something like "with our national day coming up…" and then going on to whatever it is you would like to get published. Volvo for instance got a lot of coverage by taking advantage of International Women's Day by launching a car developed by and for women in connection with it.

Timing is key

Save your news until you need publicity, for instance because of fundraising or an IPO. A good example of that is how some fundraising organisations try to get as much publicity as they can at the end of the year which is the time when they raise funds.

Lobbying

If you want to impact decisions being taken you need to start lobbying long before the matter will be decided upon. For instance, if you are keen on being voted entrepreneur of the year it's a good idea to start submitting articles to the opinion section of major newspapers just before the jury will meet to decide who will be the lucky one.

Avoid days when much is happening

The day the budget is released, war breaks out somewhere or someone famous is taken to hospital it's a waste of time to try to get your press release published. It will not work for the simple reason that other more important events are taking place.

Forget about sending emails

Call the journalists. This is by far the most effective way to connect with media because they receive hundreds of emails every day. While everyone else is scared of getting a big no in their ear, having a bit of courage will get you further in the PR game.

The press release is dead. At least, the old press release where you e-blast news desks, reporters, and news-wires. While online media releases do serve SEO purposes and have track-able metrics, in a world of spam the last thing an editor wants is another generic email about the launch of something.

How are you handling your PR? Still sending press releases by email? Do you usually get your press releases published? Have you developed good relations with journalists in key papers? What strategies have you tried and which ones work for you? What suggestions do you have for companies trying to get more impact from their PR activities?

Photo: PhotoXpress – Christopher Hall

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42 Responses to “Public relations – how to make your business well known”

  1. Guy Says:

    Some good points, Catarina.

    I've long believed that PR is the least understood part of marketing: too often, people think it is a question of press releases about new products.

    WRONG!

    PR is about managing everything to do with your organization's image – and no press release should ever go out without an opinion. Simply announcing version 2.132 of a product is guaranteed to get you ignored.

    Use the media (in all its guises) to establish yourself/company as an expert in your field and you will get all the coverage you can handle.

  2. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree Guy.

    Did you develop relationships with editors, journalists and so forth to make your strategy work? How did you go about establishing your company as an expert in its fiels? How much coverage did you get as a result?

  3. Guy Says:

    Yes – spent a good deal of time developing relationships with the media (press, radio and even TV). It really established the company as a thought-leader and market-leader in technology, although we were a dibutor (normally the most invisible part of the channel).

    We ensured all articles that went out had opinions and never just (re)produced standard product releases, were always available for interviews and/or quick questions from the media, and looked for opportunities to contribut to features, etc.

    We got enormous coverage which was incredibly valuable as, like most distributors, our marketing budget was tiny and this got our name across and boosted our image continuously in an extremely cost-effective way. We were in every edition of every IT publication in our market, as well as having fairly regular slots on radio and even a TV appearance or two.

  4. catarinaalexon Says:

    Excellent work Guy. Couldn't have done it better, I think…

  5. Rob Berman Says:

    Catarina:

    Knowing what you want too do with PR gets you pretty far in the battle. You are correct that one more press release in the pile will not necessarily get you any news. You offer some good suggestions. One more I would add is to think about more local or community newspapers. They ofter have web editions as well. They are seeking content and most interested in filling the paper for each edition.

    Rob

  6. salvatier Says:

    I have a designer/illustrators micro-event that I'm going to start planning so these tips come in handy. Thanks.

  7. Patricia Weber Says:

    Good ideas Catarina. I also learned from Sally Shields, to tie into news headlines. She is a master at PR. I don't agree that emailing press releases are dead, in particular since just last week, I emailed about being one of 365 women selected out of 5,000 to have a few-words-of-wisdom appear in a woman's calendar. It appeared, people noticed, the email worked. Maybe that is because it was local news? Great post.

  8. newhorizons123 Says:

    Hi Catarina,

    Thanks for the great suggestions about how to handle PR. I know that I certainly learned a lot from your article. Rob's suggestion about local or community newspapers is also valuable. Thanks Rob!

  9. Susan Oakes Says:

    Although I do do do much PR these days you are right about the relationships. This has always been the case , just the channels and tools that you can use today have increased. The old spraying of press releases were hit and miss.

    Very good article Catarina.

  10. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thanks Susan. Glad we agree. What otherchannels and tools would you suggest?

  11. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you learnt from my article.

  12. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we are of the same opinion Patricia. Am sure your press release worked because it was an unusual one. Not yet another launch of something…

  13. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad the timing of the article worked out in your favour Salvatier.

  14. catarinaalexon Says:

    Great we are of the same opinion.

  15. Christian Says:

    Hey Catarina,

    Do you know a good method to gather contact information for journalists? Definately agree with the need for relationship building in PR and finding exactly what they want to publish, but often it is hard to make that initial connection. Any advice is very appreciated!

    Christian

  16. catarinaalexon Says:

    Christian, just find out which journalist on the paper is covering what you would like to have published. Then call him or her and talk. There is no shortcut I'm afraid.

  17. keyuri joshi Says:

    Wow. You've certainly given us some excellent suggestions Catarina.

  18. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thanks Keyuri. Hope you start calling journalists now.

  19. Catherine Lockey Says:

    Great suggestions Catarina. Lack of headline news – never really thought of it as a opportunity until now. I especially like the Volvo anniversary example. Very useful! Thanks.

  20. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes, lack of headline news gives you an opportunity, Catherine.

  21. Susan Oakes Says:

    Sorry I did not see your comment. There are websites that appeal to who you are tageting. For example if you want to target small businesses, the Small Business Trends has a section where you can add your PR release.

    I would also set up Google alerts which ever way you do PR to make sure you know you is publishing the information and where.

    I am sure there are people who specialise in PR that could give you more information.

  22. catarinaalexon Says:

    That's useful information Susan.

  23. @PhuketPublicHC Says:

    Great article, good ideas. We are just starting our business and we are not on any headlines yet, but practicing what you suggest we may soone be in the news.

  24. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good luck!

  25. BinduDesigns Says:

    You always provide great tips. This is very useful who is trying to make good PR. Do the journalists actually take calls from people? How can we create that kind of connection? Everyone give attention to the expert in the field. You are talking about big shots in their field right?
    My recent post New Crochet project

  26. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Bindurani. You have to make the journalist interested in talking to you. You need to find the journalists that cover the kind of topics that apply to you. Then call them when you have something news worthy. But if you don't charm them and make them interested in what you have to say, you will fail. And how we do that is individual. Am sure you will find a way. Good luck!

  27. @EcoCommercist Says:

    we often take our most available media outlets for granted and let them slide and salivate over those we have nil chance of reaching. their are lots of nuggets out there.

  28. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes, you have to concentrate on the media outlets that are interested in what you are doing and not the ones that are not.

  29. Paul Forrest Says:

    Great post Catarina. Certainly highlights some timely reminders on how to take the initiative when it come to bringing your expertise to the public domain.

  30. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Paul.

  31. Slim Says:

    Brilliant, Catarina.

    When the Bush Gore election was on, I decided to become the virtual candidate for the US Senate. I posted a website. That tie-in help every website I designed skyrocket in the rankings. A sample website I put up for a potential client skyrocketed to # 6 in the search ranks overnight. I was interviewed in the local paper.

    Still, location, location, location. I was selling to a niche market and I failed to pursue skills needed for the larger market. Also, I did not have "a plan".

    Once you are prepared to take advantage of good PR, be prepared to capitalise on it by having the skills and products you want to sell.

    Regards,

    Slim
    My recent post China! Economics! Diversification!

  32. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Slim. If you used to be such a star online, why can't you re-design your blog and get it ranked high? Since I have explained what to do over and over again, why don't you instead repeat what you did online and become a virtual candidate for the presidency of the United States? Good timing with elections coming up. Then maybe we could trade places and I can learn from you instead instead:-)

  33. Jeannette Paladino Says:

    Catarina — Excellent tips. I do disagree about not using email or press releases. In the U.S. a brief email with a compelling subject line is usually the preferred method of communication for journalists. It's very difficult to get them on the phone, although following up an email pitch with a phone call can work. Also, a press release is often distributed "for the record" by big companies that have a major announcement such as a merger or new product release. In fact, a public company is required to announce major developments that have an impact on their share price — that's usually in the form of a press release (plus other legal notices). Jumping on the news and sending out a quick pitch with your POV on the topic is also very effective.
    My recent post Why Can’t Graphic Designers and Their Clients Ever Agree?

  34. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thanks Jeannette. What you describe is reality. However, you have to find ways of getting to know the journalists you need to know. If not getting them to publish anything related to you will be like playin g roulette.

  35. damondnollan Says:

    Catarina,

    Thank you. I KNOW I need to do a better job of marketing our efforts. Talking with the Press and other industry bloggers is something I have nothing with. I know…lost opportunity, huh?

    With our next event, I'm going to branch out and talk with some publishers to help get some "press."

    Thanks for the tips.

    Damond
    My recent post Be More Proactive Using These Four Tips

  36. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you liked my suggestions, Damond.

  37. keepupweb Says:

    Great tips Catarina. PR is something that I neglect. So, I appreciate your reminder. Thankfully, I have made a connection with the editor of a monthly business journal. All of my correspondence with her has been via email. To date, I've only submitted my workshops to her training calendar but I have toyed with the idea of approaching her with a monthly article. I think she would be receptive to it. This would not be a press release but I think it would be a wonderful opportunity. What are your thoughts on this?
    My recent post Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media Strategy

  38. catarinaalexon Says:

    Like your idea Sherryl! If you write it a bit like tabloid journalism she's more likely to be interested in it. They will sub-edit it anyway so headlines that grab her attention should work. But maybe the most important thing is that what you write about has to be "news worthy". So you have to create news out of whatever it is. Even if it's just a new way of looking at social media.

  39. Julie Says:

    These are really great tips Catarina. Very Valuable information! Journalists are often looking for something newsworthy to write about and you never know, you might just have what they are looking for.
    My recent post How to Keep Them Coming Back to Your Website

  40. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Julie. Start contacting journalists and sooner or later you will develop a great relationship with one and then one thing will lead to another.

  41. James Says:

    This is very true that public relation is one of the main key for promoting business or making up business well known. Without having good and closed public relation it is almost impossible to build up business well known. SO public relation is mostly important. Thanks

    My recent post Try New Strategies But Never Ignore SEO Marketing

  42. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree about the importance of good PR James.

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