March 4, 2013

The V Formation PR Handbook

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Whether you are thinking about embarking on a proactive press campaign for the first time, or feeling now is a good time to review or fine-tune your existing activity, here’s a thumbnail handbook guide from V Formation‘s PR guru Diane Wood to help you on your way. Golden rule to remember, it isn’t called press RELATIONS for nothing, so building a good relationship with your key media contacts should underpin everything you do!

The purpose of press (or media) relations is to enhance the reputation of an organisation and its products/services by influencing attitudes and behaviours. Ensure you are clear in your objectives for commissioning or planning a PR campaign. These objectives could include:

  1. Improving company or brand image
  2. Higher (and better) media profile
  3. Changing the attitudes of potential customers and stakeholders
  4. Improving community relationships
  5. Increasing market share
  6. Influencing government policy at local, national or international level
  7. Improving communications with investors and their advisers
  8. Improving industrial relations
  9. Reputation and crisis management

Remember that PR doesn’t just influence your ‘external’ targets, stakeholders and potential influencers; good media coverage can also serve to influence employee attitudes.

Effective press relations needs accurate media targeting. Ensure you know which publications and media are important to your business. Think outside of your own industry and consider what your customers and stakeholders are reading and viewing.

Genuinely new and different products/services will be of interest and will usually receive quality press coverage. Editors want news stories that will both interest and be of relevance to their readers – always bear the ‘newsworthiness’ factor in mind. (This can mean some difficult conversations when a colleague has a story that they believe merits more coverage than it is likely to receive!)

…so where do I start?

Against the basic ‘who, what, why, where, when’ principle, also consider these simple starting-point tips:

  1. Content is king – always ensure the most important features of a story are clear and top of the agenda. With editors and journalists receiving hundreds of story ideas or stories each day, you have just a few seconds (either on the phone or in a press story/announcement) to secure their interest.
  2. Part of building the media relationship is ensuring they understand your business; media will also quickly decide if a PR contact (internal or external) is of value and use to them – and so responsiveness is key. Respect the media’s own deadlines if you want to be asked twice to comment.
  3. Always take a few moments to prepare the main points you need to cover before making that call to the press.
  4. Where possible, tailor your stories for different publications by finding the local or industry angle.
  5. Ensure your media contact lists are up to date.
  6. Only call a press briefing or conference when the story is sufficiently important. Those taking the briefing should be briefed and if possible, rehearsed.
  7. Arrange for good quality photographs to illustrate your stories. Professional photography needn’t break the bank but it can make your story stand out from the crowd.
  8. Ensure that anyone quoted in the piece is of sufficient authority and available for interview.
  9. Consider using embargoes if the media need to be given time to research a story or if news needs to break on a particular day, eg the morning after an awards ceremony.
  10. Build an editorial calendar so you don’t miss opportunities for comment such as draft legislation, the Budget, official statistics releases and seasonal activities. Be aware of any impending news possibilities that could affect your clients so you can be prepared and ready to handle them in the most effective way.
  11. Always ensure that your online and social media channels are fully aligned to your ‘offline’ activities.

Find out more
PR is a valuable part of the marketing mix, particularly when budgets are tight. V Formation helps professional practices, family businesses and innovative SMEs to stand out from the crowd through thoughtful and effective press and media relations. If you think we could help you too, please give us a call on 0115 822 6364 or drop us an email.


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