Understanding PR | Part Two
Part two in a series by PR consultant Tara Gilleece on leveraging PR to support brand and corporate marketing
So, you’ve decided your business is newsworthy and has something to say to the market. Planning PR and deciding who you’re talking to, what the message is, and how it will be conveyed will make the process more effective in the long run.
Define your Audience
Are you after all consumers or maybe just an upmarket demographic? Female vs male (who is the decision maker?) or do you need to reach kids and parents, teenagers or students?
Or maybe the focus should be your specialist trade market, be it the motor industry, interior designers or pharmacists; almost every sector has its trade publications and websites, so check them out.
Your PR communication, if using general media, can also reach politicians or public representatives, business associates or financial markets, and your community and employees, which is why PR is seen to have a more influential role than simply a sales goal.
Your Audience defines your Media
Having defined your market, establish what this audience reads, listens to, sees, logs onto, attends or tweets.
A PR or advertising agency will tell you, or you can ask directly via survey groups, asking your employees, and even checking out the media where your competition or brands similar to yours are active.
When you have compiled your media targets, the logistics of contacting local and national media is a lot easier now, with email addresses on most media websites and even alongside the print articles.
Remember newspaper supplements, magazines, and trade press have ‘long-lead times’; plan PR releases 3 months ahead if they’re part of your ‘route to market’
And, don’t neglect local media, including the radio, print and online community boards etc, which is probably most relevant to your local market.
Agree the Message
Be clear on what it is you want to communicate and your PR objective?
It could be company profile, brand awareness, sales, recruitment, or reputation management.
Agree the communication with other stake-holders in the business and then discuss how best to make the message newsworthy. You may need to adapt the message to various media and audiences. This is simply a case of asking what information is most significant or interesting to the audience you want to influence, whether that is a consumer, corporate or community group.
Also, employees are an under-used PR ‘vehicle’! Make sure they’re briefed on any campaigns, and know what your business core proposition is, and can help sell it in the wider community.
Main PR Tools
Media releases, the written copy of your news, is a key tool to start with. Part one of this article had advice on generating release content.
But there are many formats that serve communications needs, including photo or video releases that illustrate the news – a picture paints a thousand words, remember!
Also consider hosting media events, a launch reception, invitations to your show or exhibition, a facility tour or demonstration of your product or experience.
Speeches at events and conference presentations are good PR, and digital and social media, as well as websites, podcasts and blogs are great low-cost options to reach your audience.
More traditionally, brochures or newsletters can also be supplied to media and sent direct to customers, in print or digitally.
Sponsorship is an advanced PR tool, mainly for brand-building, corporate profile and awareness. It provides news, promotion, branding, events, speaking and merchandising opportunity.
Important to note – sponsorship is a commercial agreement, and not altruism, and you should agree terms that provide commercial or other business advantage!
Select your sponsorship according to the interests of the specific markets you want to reach, or something that is in line with attributes you associate your brand or company with; community, young, eco-aware, upmarket, social conscience etc
Although perceived as expensive there are sponsorships for all budgets; from the local tennis club to the UEFA Cup, and many sponsorships have longevity, where a year-long PR programme can be built around them.
Remember your ‘activation’ budget should at least match the sponsorship fee. If it’s costing €500, be prepared to spend at least €1k to profile your support.
Do not just pay for a sponsorship and walk away, expecting the recipients to generate a return for you. Plan and manage all the ways to promote it, from a release announcing the deal, to prize presentations, signage or branding, social media competitions, a weblink, or a display on your premises.
Why use a PR Agency?
Savvy business people will have a fair idea of how to craft and present their PR message, but it is a specialist area and using an independent consultant has advantages.
An agency will give honest, independent advice, not constrained by ‘being employed by the company’.
They have frequent media contact, credibility and influence, and the creativity and media awareness to come up with the unusual angles and news hooks that will appeal to editors and producers.
Available at short notice and out-of-hours, using a consultant is also cheaper and more efficient than an in-house PR for small companies.
If working with a PR agency, however, someone in-house and ideally a senior figure must ‘own’ PR, and commit to planning and contributing to campaigns.
As well as monthly fees, which can vary from €500 to €5,000, depending on the workload, you also should budget for third party expenses like photography, print, sampling, hospitality, events etc.
Most PR consultants will also offer once-off project work at a fixed fee, anything from €250 for a single press release and media follow-up, so don’t be afraid to ask what is possible based on your budget and objectives.
Contact Tara Gilleece at Gilleece Communications to talk about cost-effective focussed PR campaigns and projects, at no obligation. Special rates apply for WIN associates.