We are thrilled to welcome a guest blogger to our site this month. Hazel Scott is Director of Kai Communications and what she doesn’t know about PR isn’t worth knowing!
Thanks to Hazel for sharing her tips on PR for small businesses – find out more about Hazel on her website
What is PR?
Public and press relations are both shortened into PR and essentially work hand in hand. Press relations is about managing relationships with the ever expanding world’s media. Clients essentially judge you on the press coverage that you have obtained in their target media. Public relations is about managing relationships with the public in order to build interest, make a sale or to manage a brand’s reputation.
Why do PR?
Small businesses need PR as much as a multinational. Press coverage enables you to reach your target audience through various multi-media whether it be TV, radio, blogs, national, regional, local newspapers, or trade or consumer magazines, as well as of course online articles. Whilst experts argue about what the exact multiplier is, generally there is consensus that editorial coverage is at least three times (sometimes up to 20 times) more valuable than basic advertising, both because it is more likely to be read and carries the weight of a third party endorsement by the media outlet.
Starters for 10
Most PR campaigns start with a press pack being drafted which comprises a launch press release (more on this later) and a fact sheet about the company/ product and on key personnel. In addition, ensure there is a choice of relevant visuals which need to be over 1MB but under 5MB preferably.
The aim is to provide a journalist with as much relevant information as possible in the standard form of a press release.
There is no point sending a press release that has no news value so think carefully about what is different about your company/ product and why it is newsworthy.
Write it like a news story and make sure you include who, what, why, when, where, and how in the first paragraph or two then add any necessary supporting information. Your headline and first paragraph are the most important aspects of the press release.
The press release
- The headline should be brief and eye-catching. Headlines should be a grabber to attract readers.
- Headlines should be written in capital letters, bold and in font size 14 preferably.
- Above the headline you should have the business logo, a second heading clearly marked “PRESS INFORMATION” and the press release should always be dated with the date it will hit the journalist’s desk to give it a ‘today’s news’ feel.
- The lead, or first sentence, should grab the reader and say concisely what is happening. The next one or two sentences then expand upon the lead.
- A journalist will make a decision as to whether to read on depending on their interest in the first paragraph (if the headline was interesting enough to make them read the first paragraph).
- At its simplest, the first paragraph should comprise ‘Who, what, when, where, why, and how’.
THE PRESS RELEASE BODY
- The press release should be written as it would appear in a newspaper.
- Avoid using very long sentences and paragraphs.
- Avoid repetition, jargon and over use of technical language.
- Deal with actual facts – events, products, services, people, targets, goals, plans, projects.
- The length of a press release should ideally be no more than two pages. If you are sending a hard copy, text should be 1.5 spaced ideally.
- Include relevant information about the company such as how long the company has been running and in short what the company does.
- Always have a quote from a spokesperson e.g Hazel Scott, Director of Kai Communications says: “The company has expanded from two to 22 employees over the last two years and to win this award is the icing on the cake!”
THE END OF THE PRESS RELEASE
- Always use the words “ENDS” to mark the end of the press release. Anything after that is only notes for the journalist.
- Add contact information. If your press release is of interest, a good journalist will want more information and possibly to set up an interview or ask for pictures. Contact details should include name of contact, telephone number and email address.
Top Tips Before You Get Going:-
- Consider your target audience.
- Decide what your news angle is.
- Decide who your spokesperson will be.
- Select key words that would attract your reader.
- The timing of the press release is very important. It must be relevant and recent news.
- Avoid jargon or specialised technical terms.
- You or your spokesperson must be available for comment, e.g don’t issue a press release and then go on holiday for two weeks!
- Understand that this is not an opportunity to glowingly praise your own business, it is a presentation of facts on something newsworthy. Words such as ‘fantastic’, ‘excellent’ etc. should be avoided except in quotes by a spokesperson only when relevant.
- Visuals – Help your story tell itself with a great picture.
- Back it up. Don’t write about fluff and back up your story with supporting stats if you can.
- Keep it short (under 400 words) to increase your chances of getting covered.
Your target media
When deciding who to send your press release to, think hard about who your customers are and what media they may read. Take time to look at who your customer base really are and then search for the relevant media who write about the area in question.
When to hire a professional
This blog is just a snippet of what a PR professional might do for you but if you have budget constraints there is no reason why you can’t make a start on your publicity. Just remember to do it well because first impressions always stick! Good luck!