Public Relations is an interesting, ever-changing field. There are several relationships at play, and opportunities seem endless. But, there are few tips to keep in mind if you are keen on getting ahead in the land of PR and media communications. Whatever you do, don’t drop the ball on your clients and your own reputation.
I’ve shared my Top 5 basic principles of PR below with you.
1. Know your client and their business.
There is nothing more embarrassing than being in a meeting with a potential client or even an existing client and not knowing their business philosophies. Make sure you research every part of their service, product, people and history inside out. There are plenty of ways to do this nowadays, thanks to social media platforms such as Linked In, Facebook and Instagram.
Find out whom they have partnered with, what kinds of events they have held (if any) and get a feel for their style. You might stumble across something interesting (or newsworthy) on the Internet, which may help to shape your conversation when you meet with them.
Not only will this impress the client because it shows them that you’ve invested time into educating yourself on their business offering, but it will allow you to provide more thoughtful advice and appropriate ideas to suit their objectives.
2. Know your media contacts and their needs.
When speaking to a journalist, it’s important to address them by their first name with a personally tailored email that matches the media outlet they report for. Let’s face it, everyone is short on time and is trying to juggle a million tasks. Know what they are looking for, know what their point of difference is and know how you can feed them the right materials, at the time they need it.
Not many PRs take the time to investigate what opportunities lie in various publications, and therefore, contact media randomly in the hope that they will hit the jackpot. We’ve all been there, but most of us know that it doesn’t always end up with a positive outcome. For example, a magazine may have a dedicated column named “Career Hacker” that profiles people with unique, outstanding jobs, which may provide a different approach for getting coverage on a client’s business owners. By tailoring this personal approach from the beginning, it will prove to your media contacts that you’re genuinely interested in developing a working relationship with them — ultimately, this is what all good PR is about.
3. Know your target audience and their interests.
In PR, there are two separate audiences to keep in mind when we are developing a strong pitch or story angle. The first is the media; the second is the consumer. Whether a business is a restaurant, a florist or a fashion designer, the point of any good PR is to highlight that connection between the client’s offering and the interests of the public, with the media bringing the two together.
More often than not, the deliverables of PR consultants get mistaken for that of pure advertising or pure editorial. Some people think that we create advertisements, while others think we write feature stories. Both are wrong, but both right in some way. PR is finding that perfect harmony between the two – matching key messages with an interesting, relevant news angle.
4. Know your purpose and desired result.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the possibilities for your client, but often it is better to know where your restraints might be. This realistic approach will help to put parameters around how much time you spend on various activities. For instance, if you know that your client is focused on finding new business leads, then devise a strategy that helps them achieve this. On the other hand, if you know they value mainstream media, but don’t care much for social media, make it a priority to chase the heavy hitters – like TV and radio!
5. Know your pitch and respect if it won’t work.
When you are speaking to a media personality, whether they are a news reporter or an advertising representative, you really only have one chance to grab their attention. A helpful hint is to use a few catch phrases or key words that sum up your potential storyline. It’s even more helpful to write some notes before your phone call, so that you don’t lose track of your direction and stumble.
If, after carefully explaining your idea – in person, on the phone or via email – they are not interested or don’t see a fit with their publication, don’t push it. Accept, and politely move on. You may strike it lucky next time, but you don’t want to ruin your chances. Remember, relationships come first.
By Deana Tynan