Tale Spin is a below-the-line marketing communications agency. We formulate and implement communication strategies that support the brand, sales and corporate objectives of our clients.

PR is our core competence, yet our service offering covers all aspects of marketing and communication.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


When you work on your own it can be hard to get answers to some common questions: Are my marketing efforts effective?
How can I improve my marketing?
Am I doing it right?

‘Flying solo’ can be lonely and it’s important that we are not secretive about information that can help others. We need to share ideas and best practice so that we can seize all opportunities and grow.

Entrepreneurs are often cash-strapped and have limited resources so we do as much as possible ourselves, scrutinize every cost and make sure we are getting value for money for every marketing rand spent.

If you are doing ‘DIY marketing’, then maximize your initiatives and make them work for you. Increase their effectiveness by ensuring that you apply all the tricks of the trade and get the most out of everything you do.

One of the cost-effective tactics you may decide to employ is a Public Relations and/or publicity campaign. It will boost your visibility, credibility and generate awareness of your product or service which is critical for start-ups and entrepreneurs. But, how can you get more from your PR and publicity efforts?

In PR, well written press releases have their place so aim to get the most out of them. Here are some tips and suggestions:
• Focus on connecting with your customers and provide them with newsworthy information. No brag copy please – this is a turn-off for the reader and journalist looking to publish a story.
• Make sure your article is optimised for publication on websites and e-zines even if you are only intending to submit to print media. You can do this by including keywords/phrases in the body-copy - typically they are between 1 and 6 words long. Most publications (if not all) have websites which carry the same content as the printed versions and if your article is used it will be published on both. So in makes sense to ensure that your release incorporates the right keywords as it helps the search engines to find you.
• Choose keywords and phrases that your clients will use to search for your product or service using the world-wide-web. When selecting keywords it is important to think like your target audience and not like an expert or someone well versed in your industry. There are special tools on the web that help marketers find keywords. They are called keyword research tools. Some free ones are Google Keyword Tool, SEOChat and Wordtracker.
• Sign-up for a press-office with a website/portal that serves and interacts with your target audience. Journalists often access websites for information for articles or pull stories directly from press-offices for publication. So make sure they find your article.
• A professional press release which is well presented is important. When attributing quotations to a person in a release cut out the first-name familiarity. It may look nice to you but, to a journalist it looks out of place. Ultimately it will jar with the news-desks of credible newspapers and magazines.

PR can turn you from a nobody into a somebody who can compete with bigger businesses. The credibility factor speaks volumes and it is cost effective. For example, compared to print advertising where you only get one placement in a local paper or magazine for your money (lets say R5000.00) the same amount spent on PR if you get coverage in several magazines/newspapers and websites can mean the equivalent of 5 to 10 times the advertising cost in those publications.

PR is hard-work, time-consuming and comes with no guarantees, but is well worth the effort and investment.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Explaining what Public Relations is and how it works is quite a challenge. I often find that there is a lack of understanding from the client’s side about what PR can and can't achieve, what works and what doesn't and then there is the confusion about what PR can do vs advertising.

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
You say what you do using now angles, trends and statistical slants, but then as you chip away at it and you repeatedly expose yourself to your target audience, people start to take notice and through continuous leadership you become a WHO – then people want to listen to what you have to say and they look forward to reading your articles. Ideally this is where you want to get to.

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.