13 March 2020
PR should be an important part of your overall marketing mix.
Sending out a steady stream of good news stories about your business to your local media and trade press is a great way of increasing your brand’s profile and raising awareness of your products and services among your target customers.
However, many businesses fall down with their PR strategy because they don’t know what to talk about.
Like we said in our last blog, most businesses are sat on a goldmine of stories, but they probably don’t even know it.
A good PR and communications professional can help to tease out the juicy nuggets of information and turn them into headline-grabbing news stories which pick up plenty of media coverage.
As we’ve discussed before, there are a few elements that every PR story must have if it’s going to stand any chance of picking up coverage. So, to recap, your PR story must be...
Firstly, a good PR story must be newsworthy enough to grab the attention of journalists.
If they think it will be of interest or value to their readers, chances are they will use it.
A key thing to remember here is that there is a big difference between what is interesting to you and your business and what is of interest to anyone else.
So, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to look at your story from their perspective. Or, imagine you were reading the same story, but from a rival company. Would you still find it interesting? You might be surprised.
Secondly, your PR story must be relevant.
Although some media outlets cover general news stories, many publications and online news platforms, particularly those in the business world, have a speciality or niche.
Even if you have the best PR story in the world, if it’s not relevant to the readers of the media you’re pitching it to, it probably won’t get covered.
So, invest a bit of time and energy into researching which media outlets cover the types of story you are looking to push out, and identify the journalists or writers you want to reach out to.
Thirdly, your story must be unique.
Although there are certain things that lots of businesses write about – events or new products, for example – journalists and editors are always looking for new or different angles on stories that are similar, so they don’t have to keep churning out the same old tired headlines again and again.
So, ask yourself if your story has been told before and if it has, what you can do to move it on.
If you’re launching a new product, what makes it different to other ones on the market and why should people buy it?
If you’re running an event, why should people attend? What value does it add?
Remember, a journalist’s job is to provide their readers with informative and interesting content, not to promote your business. So, give them something that’s unique and different, that their readers might not know about.
As we said at the start of this blog, the chances are you are sat on a wealth of good news stories from within your business without even knowing it.
So, if you are looking to raise your profile in the media, but are struggling with what to talk about, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Whether you’re running your own, piggybacking on others or even commenting on what’s going on, events can be an absolute goldmine of PR opportunities.
In the past few months, we’ve had a general election, Brexit, two major weather events, a global virus pandemic and some very public fallings out from within the Royal Family. That’s before we even get to the breaking news and latest trends within your own industry.
All of these are newsworthy events which your business can offer opinion on. The trick is to keep a close eye on what’s going on and offer up your thoughts and opinions on anything that’s relevant to your business.
Your people can be a huge asset when it comes to telling stories about your business.
Do any of your staff have any quirky or interesting hobbies?
Do you have anything in your own backstory that is unusual or newsworthy?
Are you working with any customers that do interesting things?
If the answer is yes, shout about it.
Surveys are another good way of attracting the media’s attention. Everyone loves a good poll, after all.
So, if you’ve done any customer research, even if it’s just asking a couple of questions on your website, why not share the results?
If you’ve got the data to back up an emerging trend in your industry, you’re sat on a decent story.
Controversial issues, while sometimes best avoided, can also be good breeding grounds for potential PR.
If you can offer a strong opinion on a breaking news story, or a different angle to what other businesses are saying, there’s a good chance you will pick up coverage on the back of it.
Finally, it’s a bit of a cliché, but a good picture is worth a thousand words and can sometimes tell a story in a way that writing about it can’t.
So, if you have great images featuring your business, why not share them with a few select journalists.
Most media outlets are crying out for good visual content they can share on social media to drive clicks to their website. If you can give them decent pictures, you’ll be making their lives easier and they will be extremely grateful. Same applies to video.
There are a few types of story that are a big turn-off to journalists and editors, that usually get spiked without ever seeing the light of day. These include:
As a rule of thumb, business birthdays, on their own, aren’t particularly newsworthy or unique. They are a good example of the type of story that is of interest only to the business itself.
Why? Well, if you think about it, there are 5.9 million businesses in the UK. Every single one of them has a birthday, every year. If the media covered each one, there would be no room for any other news.
So, unless your business birthday is a big milestone – 25, 50 or 100 years – it will probably be a turnoff to most journalists.
That’s not to say you can’t make the most of your birthday in your marketing.
You should absolutely use the day as an opportunity to max out your online and offline channels with celebratory messages, provided they resonate with your customers.
But when it comes to PR, you’ll need another hook.
If you’ve had a successful year, why not tie it in with a growth story about your business? Or maybe you are marking the occasion by raising funds for a charity throughout the year?
If you can come up with an angle that isn’t solely about your business birthday, it will stand a better chance of getting covered.
For the same reason as above, new website launches are also a no-no.
Again, just think about the number of web agencies there are in the country, and how many websites they launch for their clients every week. Dozens of new business websites go live every day, so unless yours is likely to disrupt your industry (i.e. you’ve invented the next Facebook or Spotify), or are giving people something they can’t get anywhere else, getting coverage will be hard.
However, if you can work a new website launch into a bigger story about your business – such as, you’ve grown by 25% and need the new site to meet increased customer demand, or you’ve just started exporting and your website will help you reach more international customers as part of a planned strategy – all of a sudden, the story isn’t just about the website. You’ve given the journalists an interesting new angle to play with.
Finally, if you’re giving your opinion on something, don’t play it safe or say the same things as everyone else.
Journalists like different points of view, strong opinions and controversy.
So, be outspoken and challenging, be bold and brave rather than bland.
A good soundbite can be worth it’s weight in PR gold, so don’t be afraid to stick your head above the parapet.
The above are just a few ideas to help get those creative juices flowing as you start your PR journey.
Of course, if you’re still struggling to come up with ideas for stories and get them written, a professional PR and communications consultant can help.
At JSS Media, we work with our clients to understand their objectives, shape their message and get their stories heard. We can give you advice and guidance on what would – and wouldn’t – make a good PR story for your business, then help you to shape it into a news story which secures media coverage.
We can also help you reach out to the journalists and writers who are interested in your business or sector, and start to develop relationships with them to ensure you can maximise any PR opportunities your business has.
If you are interested in learning more, or would like to book a free consultation, give us a call on 07432 118145 or fill out the form below and let’s talk.