1) Plan your publicity
Planning is essential; it will help you focus your efforts and set measurable and clearly defined objectives. It need not cost much, but you should take a little time to research your local media and prepare a photograph. However much you decide to spend on PR, there should be a return, so it’s important that you’re not paying out for something that creates little or no response.
Ask yourself five questions:
- What do I wish to achieve? More footfall? To advertise an event?
- How shall I achieve it? An advert? Editorial in the local paper? An interview with a local radio station?
- Who do I want to talk to? Customers? Other businesses?
- What do I want to say? What are your USPs? Is there a special offer?
- How do I know I have got it right? Do you know that a ‘10% off’ sale will bring in custom?
2) Is the publication relevant?
Make sure that you send your press release, along with a copy of your media fact sheet to relevant publications; this may mean that you need to either buy or request a copy of the magazine before you send anything in. Exactly the same applies to buying advert space: will the readers of this particular magazine want to buy your produce/visit your pub/come to your event?
3) Editorial calendars
An editorial calendar is a schedule of a publication’s future feature topics. Collect them for the publications you wish to target and you’ll be able to see if a subject if coming up that your business’s story could fit into. For instance, a magazine is going to run a story on local produce and you’re a butcher using meat from Northumberland to make sausages that a local Primary is buying up for school lunches; you can send your press release in weeks in advance of the story’s publication. Alternatively, now would be a good time to place an advert, appropriate to the editorial, for maximum impact.
4) Get to know your representatives
It’s worth doing your homework; find out exactly who the person is that you will be sending your press release to. Not only is it common courtesy to address your correspondence to the recipient by name, but by building up a relationship with this person they might take the time to contact you about an article that your business could feature in.
5) Every picture...
What you say and how you say it is crucial when it comes to generating interest and getting a response. Your chances of getting a story broadcast or into print, however, are increased significantly when you include photographs.
6) Timing is everything
You’ve checked the editorial calendar, you’ve got your release, but have you missed the cut-off point? Check the publication’s deadlines to make sure you send your release/photos/advert in good time.
7) Make yourself available
Make it easy for the press to contact you. If you’ve prepared your media fact sheet and included a copy with your correspondence then you’re sorted
If you send out newsletters or articles, in print or online, include contact details for feedback. Ideally the email address should be for a specific person, rather than a generic info@ address.
Put clear PR contact details on your website
Directions, a map or a link to an online map are all useful in addition to giving your postal address.
You sent your release, a copy of your media fact sheet and a photo; you were within the cut-off point and you checked your emails and answer machine every half an hour for three days... why was it not published?
- It was not relevant
- It was not a big enough story
- The journalist did not understand or appreciate the story
If they haven’t run it this week, they are not going to run it next week, so swallow your pride and explain your story better next time!