How to use PR strategies to be seen.
By Jessica Sellers
Customers can’t choose you if they don’t know you exist. So how do you break into their consciousness? One way is to advertise in publications, but another strategy is to get your business onto the editorial pages of those same periodicals. The editorial pages provide that elusive third-party implied endorsement that gets readers’ attention—and can translate into more sales, faster.
“Ideally, you want to be mentioned in the publications that your customers are reading when they are thinking about a purchase,” says Rob Davis, international public relations consultant.
Bryan DeSena, senior publicist at Roddan Paolucci Roddan, says you have to decide who you are trying to reach with your message. “If it’s industry peers, then many of the industry’s specialty trade publications—like InTents—should be a priority. If your goal is reaching a general consumer audience, then you should look at publications including daily newspapers, business publications or lifestyle magazines, which appeal to a larger readership base.”
Brad Whalen, vice president of Bonita Springs, Fla.-based Sulk Whalen Public Relations, which represents Creative Events & Rentals of Fort Myers, Fla., recommends that you weigh your information against two questions to determine its newsworthiness:
- Does this news provide a benefit to the general public/potential clients?
- Does it have an economic impact on the community?
“For the first example, we like to do press releases on company personnel any time they have added industry accreditation or additional educational coursework to their resume. Sure, it’s a way to get the company name in the newspaper, but it is also indicative of the seriousness that a company places in staying on top of the latest industry developments and a sign of an individual employee’s eagerness and ambition to provide the best possible service to a client.”
On the second question, new hires, new locations, and other kinds of expansion positively affect the local economy and tax base. When Creative Events & Rentals opened a new headquarters, Whalen distributed information addressing how many jobs were created, the business context that prompted the new headquarters and the projected revenue expansion. Two days after the groundbreaking ceremony, Creative Events & Rentals president George Ghanem received a phone call from a potential client who’d seen a newspaper article the previous day.
Make it easy
Provide your information to the media in the easiest-to-use format, and ensure that you are sending your information to the right person. “A few things that will always elicit an appreciative response from the press: easy access to high-resolution photos, a well-spoken company representative who can make himself or herself quickly available for interviews, and well-written event recaps or summaries,” DeSena says.
Providing good visuals with your story makes using your information easier for the reporter. “Images that depict fun events or candid expressions and activities are more likely to be used,” DeSena says. “A photo of your staff standing in front of a white tent in a green park is probably not going to get the job done.”
Davis suggests having a variety of photos on hand—some media outlets want silhouette shots (just the product), some like to have people in the product shots showing how it is used, and some want only CEO headshots.
He also emphasizes the need to keep your promises (if you promise something in 30 minutes, do not miss your deadline) and to provide materials that are honest and well-written. It is also helpful to have customers available and willing to talk about the product.
Finally, be aware that your press release will most likely not be published exactly how you wrote it. You can provide assistance, Davis says, but you cannot edit the story, direct the storyline or otherwise be in complete control.