So what is PR?

Let’s face it – most people don’t really “get” PR. It’s often a bit unclear what it actually is, what’s involved, and what the results look like. Since we do quite a bit of it, we thought we’d try to demystify the whole thing for you.

So. Public Relations. Well really, that’s exactly what it is. It’s all about getting your brand or company in front of the public; it’s how you look, and how you want to be seen and understood. There are virtually unlimited ways to do this, but essentially it’s about generating media coverage or public interest  – as distinct from advertising space. This doesn’t have to be from wacky public stunts, events or celebrity endorsements (although they can work too). It simply involves finding an angle for the news you want to get out there that other people will want to hear, whether that be through news coverage, social media or good old fashioned word of mouth.

This blog doesn’t try to cover every element in depth, but there are a few key areas to consider when launching any kind of PR campaign. As we all know, not all news is good news, and it pays to be sure you know what you’re doing. (And if you’re not – well, that’s what we’re here for.)
– Be careful who – and what – you associate with. It can have a very negative impact. Not mentioning any names. Or horses. Or supermarkets. Conversely, positive associations can work wonders for brand image – think Sainsburys and Red Nose Day, or Co-op’s Fair Trade association.
– One size very definitely does not fit all. In a nutshell, good PR is about relevance, timing and target audience. Everything need to be tailored to the audience; what you think is a good headline is not necessarily what your audience, local news editor or potential customer wants to hear. You need to understand your target market absolutely.
– Grab attention. Nuff said.
– Be tenacious. If one angle doesn’t work, try another. And another. But don’t annoy people – that does more harm than good.
– Keep it simple and to the point. Waffle means loss of interest – and that means less coverage.
– It’s who you know. OK, not all the time, but a well-developed media network is worth its weight in coverage-gold.
– Get to grips with social media. It’s a cost-effective way to reach an almost unlimited audience. But to work well, it has to be done right. We handle several of our clients’ social media, interacting with followers, answering queries and generally promoting the public face of the companies. There’s a knack to it, as no-one wants to be bombarded with advertising, but it can work really well for building up brand loyalty, and promoting offers. One of our clients, Nanna Mexico, has really benefitted from social media and now gets much better take up on its weekly and seasonal offers thanks to a receptive and ready made online audience.
– Don’t annoy your contacts with a constant barrage of non-newsworthy material. You need to know what’s worth pushing and what’s not.
– Know what “success” looks like. PR is very hard to quantify, so be realistic about what you expect to come from this. PR is not about one hit wonders to win sales or customers – though sometimes that does happen. But in terms of awareness, brand development and image, there’s really nothing better.

Another client, Tim Shoesmith, has just won the Magic Circle Close Up Magician of the Year award. Within a week of contacting us we’d sent the press release and secured national and regional TV, radio and press coverage; and all for a really tiny budget. Not every story gets this level of coverage of course; but coverage in the right places is worth far more than a blanket approach.

There is no formula for what will work in PR – some stories, or social media threads, seem to just run, and get a lot of attention. Many of our clients have recently enjoyed a great deal of coverage thanks to well-planned press releases and our contact network, because we work with them to understand what the opportunities are for PR, in all its many and varied guises. Knowing what makes a good story, and crucially, knowing how and where to sell it in, is what we do.

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