21st December 2017
In part two of this three-part series, Bannerton Managing Director, Sharon Bannerton, discusses the importance of planning your PR to support brand and reputation building.
So, you’ve decided your business is newsworthy and has something to say to the market! The asset that is your professional experience and reputation can be put to work to support business development.
Planning PR starts with deciding who you’re talking to, what the message is, and how it will be conveyed. Giving time to this planning dimension will make the process more effective in the long run, and is relevant to all aspects of marketing communications for a business.
Define your Audience
This is largely decided by your product or service and whether the focus is purely sales-oriented or also takes in building your brand or reputation.
Are your consumers an upmarket demographic, with money to invest; young people early in their careers; families planning for the future; mostly female or male (who is the decision maker?) or do you need to reach a broad market spectrum?
Or maybe the focus should be the business customer, the farming community, specific sectors like the motor industry or public sector workers – almost every sector has its trade publications and websites, so check them out.
Your PR communication, if using general media, will also reach politicians or public representatives, business associates, your community and potential employees, which is why PR is recognised as having 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 re-tweets.
A PR or advertising agency will tell you, or you can ask directly via survey groups, ask your employees and even check out the media where your competition or businesses 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 included in print articles.
Remember national newspaper supplements, magazines, and trade press have ‘long-lead times’; so plan PR releases two to three 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. Make it your business to seek out those working in local media and chat about articles and interviews of interest.
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.
Maybe you want to establish your business as sector leaders, or as the local specialists.
Agree the communication with other stakeholders 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 consumer or corporate.
Also, employees are an under-used PR ‘vehicle’! Make sure they’re briefed on any campaigns, and know what your business core proposition is so that they can help sell it in the wider community.
Remember that you are the expert in your field which might very well be complex. But complexity is good, from a media perspective; it means there are people interested in hearing more and understanding better. Identify the key messages and information you can provide.
Main PR Tools
Media releases, the written copy of your news, is a key tool to start with. The next section will give you advice on generating release content, and definitely make sure that the copy drafted is clear, concise and typo-free!
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!
And, in this era where social media is a key communications resource for so many, good photos, charts or illustrations can be just as effective at getting your message across.
Also consider hosting media events, a launch reception, invitations to a talk or business briefing, or a public seminar on your particular sector.
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 as e-zines.
For news angles or drafting a media release, think ‘who, what, why, where and when?’
What’s happening; your event, the introduction of online services for clients, or the launch of your new offices or product/service? Who is involved, is there a new service or product, why is it special, and what need does it serve? When is it happening?
‘Research says…..’ is good; can you survey customers or Facebook followers and share some original newsy insights on a topic related to the business?
Despite the Irish reticence to talk ourselves up, success is a great news angle – people like to do business with successful people and businesses! Think new staff qualifications, a local dignitary officially opening your new office, job creation, industry awards etc.
Remember that producing expert articles on your various area of expertise is ideal media content – you are the expert. It is possible to ‘PR your business’ yourself, but it does take work and focussed consideration of where the news value is and how to leverage it.
Sharon Bannerton heads up an award-winning Dublin based PR agency, with extensive experience in PR, marketing and social media campaigns for financial services businesses. You can connect with them here>>
Part three of this insight into PR, which will be published shortly, will have more advice on specific PR initiatives including sponsorship and how to maximise the business return.