Being a PR professional is about knowing how things work behind the scenes and armed with this knowledge educating clients, managing their expectations and creating an understanding of how to leverage media participation.
Public relations creates a favourable climate for a product, service or issue, it does not directly sell it. It builds profiles and awareness; manages reputation and moulds perception. Traditionally, it is judged as more credible by the public because it is not paid for, however, there is less control over the message. The point is, public relations helps to ensure visibility - it is important that companies and service providers are seen to be having an opinion and contributing to their industry regularly.
If you are a small or medium size business, largely unknown with little or no previous PR profile and you embark on a PR campaign you start off as a WHAT:
- a serviced office provider
- a recruitment consultant
- an IT company
- a property developer
On the journey to becoming a "who" you need to follow some basic rules:
Use the press release wisely. It is the lowest common denominator in the PR process but is vitally important. Good content presented correctly to journalists either on an individual basis or to a small group, which provides value to readers is what it is all about. Remember, copy has to compete for media play on intrinsic news value that commands media attention in credible, targeted slots.
Don't spam the media. Use well researched media lists. Research your target media, buy copies of the magazines and newspapers or subscribe to the e-zine to familiarise yourself with the content, style and specific sections/columns.
Address journalists through personal e-mails or phone-calls - state upfront what the content of the release includes and why it is suitable for their publication/column.
Clients must be available for comment. If your agency is sending out a release be prepared to field media phone calls and provide additional information immediately. Respect journalists’ deadlines.
Have supporting hi-res photographs on hand. Print media can only use hi-res pictures. For newspaper print quality you need a file size of about 600k, for magazine quality your picture must be 300dpi with a file size of at least 1meg.
Brainstorm. It is always interesting and refreshing to involve someone else’s point of view on a particular case. Involve you client and colleagues in the challenges faced, share knowledge and creativity to solve them.
Make PR work strategically and tactically for your clients and your agency. Spend time thinking things through and connect with your clients and the media. This will go a long way to ensuring that your clients see PR as an essential item on the budget.