This entry discusses what a public relations plan involves and looks at the different aspects of that plan, how they interplay and how they can be combined to help build anticipation for a product launch or change the way that a company sees your business.
If you want to increase the success of your business, then you need one thing more than anything else – exposure. If you have a business but you don't have exposure, then this will basically mean that you can have the very best product or service in the world and the very best price and still not make any money. To sell, you need people to know that you're selling. You could give away gold for free, but if no-one knows about it… then you won’t get any takers!
But the key is not only to make sure that word gets out but also to ensure that it gets out in the way that you intend. The old saying that ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ does not really hold up in practice. If you’re trying to sell your services as a dentist and there’s a rumor going round that you don’t have any actual training or experience, then this is certainly ‘bad publicity’ in most senses of the phrase!
This is where having a public relations plan comes in. This is a plan that is designed specifically to gain and build publicity and to ensure that the company is presented in the right way.
One of the very best things you can do to get people to know that you're selling something is to get press coverage. If the press covers your business or any media outlet for that matter, then this will mean that you reach a huge readership and that people start to take your business seriously. And what's more is that once your business is in the media, it will then start to spread as other outlets start to cover the same thing they saw in other magazines and papers and as websites etc. pick up on it to. This is one of the most powerful ways to get attention for any venture, but it is not an easy thing to do. Here we will look at some ways to get the press to cover your news.
Many businesses and particularly online businesses will settle for sending out press releases as the main way that they communicate with various media outlets. This is all good and well, but it won't result in that much coverage if it doesn't offer anything very exciting for the magazine or paper and isn't very personal.
The best way to use a press release, is to understand why the press use them – and that is to get inside scoops to share with their audience before anyone else. They don’t want to give you free advertising, they want to help their audience find information they are interested in. So make sure that you use press releases only when you have a genuinely interesting story to tell. Look for the angle that the journalist might want to cover and if you don’t have an interesting story… make one!
Make sure as well to understand the formatting of the press release too. Understand what an embargo is, what for immediate release means etc.
This is more like it. In order to get coverage for your story you need to give the press just that – a story. The more pomp, photos and excitement there is surrounding your announcement, the more you will get covered. By hosting an event you will accomplish that and you can really sell your announcement in a way that makes it exciting. At the same time, by inviting key members of the press and the industry you will be ensuring that they feel special and obligated to you.
Magazines and papers love exclusives, and if you can make your news rare or completely exclusive then they will be much more likely to cover it. Choose your outlet carefully and give them a titbit of information that no one else knows and they will be much more likely to cover it and other publications will then report on what they print.
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A publicity stunt is any kind of news-worthy event that is designed purely to get attention through the press and even through social media. An example might be Red Bull’s attempt to get a man to run through a loop-de-loop, which hadn’t been successfully achieved at this point. The key is to try and tie the stunt in with your brand though, otherwise it can come across as a bit random and even desperate!
Partnering up with a magazine or a paper etc. is a great way to get them to promote your news for you. For instance, then if you can do a competition with them and offer your new product as a prize, then this will make them much more likely to write about you.
As well as getting word out about your business, it’s also important to ensure that your business is viewed in the right way by the public. This means crafting an image and making sure that this is the image that is presented in the way that you want it to be.
The other reason that the competition idea works well is that it involves the readers getting something for free. If you can give anything away for free, or maybe offer a discount to the readers of the magazine then you will again be much more likely to get exposure; the reason being that the magazines serve their readers first and want to help them any way possible in order to provide their value.
If you involve a charity then suddenly every publication in the world will be more likely to print your story. At the same time, you will have a lot of great places to promote your product already in the bag – such as the charity magazine. These are what we refer to as routes to market.
More to the point though, involving a charity makes your business seem generous and ethical, which are things that most companies will normally want to associate with their business! This can subtly change the way that customers and clients see you and at the same time, it can be a great way to lessen the damage for any public relations gaffs.
Likewise, it’s also a good idea to go green where possible and to switch to the most environmentally friendly ways of running business possible. This will make you appear more conscientious and will help to once again improve your overall image. At the same time, this can be a great way to create a story that is worth covering. It’s topical and it can be interesting to see how a big company might make the switch to purely green methods of doing business.
We’ve already discussed how having an exclusive story is a great way to get more press to cover you. Another great option is to grant an interview. When you do this, you not only offer an inherently exclusive story, but you also give yourself the opportunity to put forward your side of the story. Yes, you can have your quotes omitted and your point lost – but in some cases it’s even possible to let your PR team proofread the copy before it goes live, thereby ensuring that it fits the image that you’re trying to portray.
Of course, all of these methods are strategies for increasing your visibility and they are common techniques used in PR. However, they are not on their own enough to constitute a plan. To turn these strategies into a plan, the PR firm or the company in question will need to think about how each of these steps will work in the grander scheme, how to allocate resources and how to take that public image through a natural progression.
PR can also sometimes involve internet marketing strategies: using the likes of SEO in order to craft the online visibility and image of a company, or partnering with blogs and brands.
You need to think about where your public image is right now and where you want it to be in the future. Perhaps your company is currently struggling with bad press, or maybe it’s currently little known. You might have an impending launch of a new project, in which case you might want to raise awareness while building buzz and suspense. Creating buzz about a product is an exciting strategy and one that can greatly help you to make massive sales at launch.