15th December 2017
In a three-part series, exclusively for WomenMeanBusiness.com, Bannerton Managing Director, Sharon Bannerton, explains PR and how it works, including the options around working with a consultant or agency or trying some DIY PR in-house to boost business.
Often, in our initial dealings with smaller businesses, we tend to find low levels of understanding of PR – especially of how it works in comparison to advertising and other marketing activity. Apprehension as to anticipated cost and the PR value proposition is also common.
So, what exactly is PR, what is news, and how do you decide your audience or market, the media, messages and the tools you will use to boost your business profile and reputation?
This series is a layman’s guide to PR.
What is PR?
A marketing definition a lot of people can relate to is ‘advertising is what you pay for, and publicity is what you pray for’!
At the most basic level, PR is about editorial coverage for a business or product, based on identifying something new, different or newsworthy about what is offered.
Another good definition – ‘PR is doing good and getting the credit’ – but, the big question is how to get the credit?
You need to COMMUNICATE what it is you are ‘doing good’ and you need to make it NEWSWORTHY.
PR for business can be B2B or B2C, or both; depending on whether you need to speak to consumers or to a trade or corporate audience.
The audience determines the choice of media you approach, as well as the content of your media release; you need to supply the information that will most influence your chosen audience.
PR is also used by lobby groups, charities, public representatives and personalities, basically using the same tools, but with slightly different objectives.
PR versus Advertising
PR is NOT advertising, your sales pitch is NOT news; advertising is seen as paid promotion by the business itself, whereas PR-based media content, generally interviews or editorial, is seen as independent endorsement of what you do.
But PR can help to turn a sales pitch or a business achievement into news.
‘We’re super nice people and will do a great job of managing your finances’ just won’t hack it however!
But, have you got a great new tax advisor on board, are you now offering book-keeping or payroll services for contractors, or are you hosting a ‘focus on finance’ talk for women at the local community centre?
Have you got a new product using new technology, is your product/service offering unique or have you done a complete makeover to your brand?
A national award for your firm, the Budget impact on personal finances, the latest facts and figures on pensions and what we need to put by for retirement, or even the creation of new jobs are all good news and feature topics that can catch the eye of an editor.
Apart from conveying a sales message, PR will build profile and reputation and help explain your service. PR is about brand-building and reputation, and is a longer-term investment, than the immediate sales motivator that advertising represents.
People like to do business with people they know and respect….PR builds understanding of you and your business, and if you’re ‘in the news’ or if your photo’s in the local paper, you’re generally seen as more credible and trustworthy!
What is News?
Come at this question from the producer or editor’s viewpoint – they need to produce content that people want to read or listen to – otherwise they’re out of a job!
Start with what you see in the newspapers, read in magazines, hear on the radio, or read online; that’s news.
If you want a PR profile, be aware of how others are doing it – keep up to date with trade publications and marketing news too.
When the local bank manager is on local radio telling people how to go about getting a mortgage, think through the other useful topics listeners will want to know about – such as the options to consider if you come into an inheritance or have a lump sum to invest. Have your mortgage advisor note down key independent advice on the wisdom of shopping around, and being fully aware of the terminology and different types of mortgage products out there. The local radio is just as likely to be interested in this more impartial advice next time.
Listen to the radio to see if there are any other topics that are covered that would be of interest to your potential/existing customers. Make sure that, where possible, you can react to something that is being said or happening. As they say in the Boy Scouts (or Girl Guides!) – ‘Be Prepared’.
Look for unique, interesting angles, relevant to your clients, and, if in doubt, get in touch with local media, particularly where you are an advertiser, and check with an editor the type of articles/conversations they’d be interested in having.
Building your brand or business reputation using PR takes time and effort, but then reputation is a priceless asset, and, back to where we started, if you do good, then do your best to get the credit!
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 two of this insight into PR, which will be published shortly, will have more advice on planning a local publicity campaign, including practical news angles to pursue.