Word of mouth is a very powerful public relations weapon and one of the best ways of generating it is through publicity. Although publicity can be very valuable, it is often overlooked as a true means of creating interest in a product or service.
What is public relations?
Public relations , aka PR, includes a variety of tactics that strengthen your credibility, enhance your image or influence public opinion. These tactics, including speeches, special events, promotional activities, product launches, product give-aways, sponsorship, newsletters, annual reports, articles and media releases are targeted to an audience. PR involves communicating who you are, what you do, why you do it and how you make a difference.
The terms public relations and publicity are often misused. Publicity is only one function of public relations. Publicity is media coverage including news stories, feature articles, radio interviews, television appearances, editorials and reviews.
Publicity can be gained through effective media relations such as media releases, news conferences, press kits and by contacting editors or journalists.
PR for you
Most large businesses devote considerable resources to public relations because it is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to attract customers and increase their business. Solo businesses should also look at the benefits of PR because it can:
- attract customers;
- increase demand for your products or services;
- gain an edge over your competitors;
- enhance your credibility and prestige;
- get your message across without the expense of advertising; and
- create goodwill in your community.
Want more articles like this? Check out the Public relations, PR section.
Reading an article about a product or seeing a story on the news provides credibility but there are no guarantees that your story will get a run.
One of the unique characteristics of publicity is that you have little control over whether your media release or news conference will be covered. Editors have complete control over a publicity item. They are the ones who decide if it will be used and they also have the editorial license to alter or use only part of it.
This is where an expert can help – someone who understands how to make your media release stand out and who has good media contacts and strong working relationships with various journalists and editors.
Calling publicity free can be misleading as it does cost money to employ an expert to promote your product or to pay a staff member or yourself to handle what is involved.
Tips for writing a media release
Here’s a few tips on how you can write your own media release and attract interest in your product or service:
- Have something interesting to say – consider the Unique Selling Point.
- Write a catchy headline using short, punchy phrase.
- Use a bright opening, putting your strongest point first.
- Content –what, when, where, who and why.
- Use memorable quotes.
- Title it ‘Media Release’ and always include the date.
- Include contact details such as telephone, mobile, email and website address.
- Use letterhead and keep content to one page.
- If emailing use a strong subject heading with the media release in body of email.
- Do your research and send your media release to the most appropriate person.
- Follow up – media liaison.
- Suggest a photo or photo opportunity that will add to the impact of your story.
To ensure the success of your campaign, your PR objectives should be clearly defined as part of the overall marketing strategy. The best results will be obtained through a coordinated approach to all your marketing, advertising and public relations activities. Your key messages, information and branding should be included on all your marketing and PR collateral.
Normally public relations is an afterthought to an overall marketing campaign and can represent only a small percentage of the overall budget, but it can work very well and produce tremendous results. Not all publicity will help to increase sales but it can generate public goodwill and promote corporate images, product awareness and help to build the overall company brand.