People may confuse publicity with public relations, and some may mistake one for the other. Public Relations per se, actually creates awareness for a product or service and it also helps to raise an organisation’s profile. A solid PR program also helps to shape perceptions. And, if you’re in a crisis, when defending your reputation is of prime importance, good PR skills can help prevent potentially damaging issues from impacting your business.
The true art of Public Relations is all about building a perception for your corporate brand. How exactly does PR work? What is the method or procedure to be followed to make PR click?
The world of PR is changing fast, and with the explosion of social media, it is critical that we mean everything we say and do as it can be reported immediately. PR is a very powerful, effective tool to go out and tell your story. So, here are some golden rules to follow and you’re almost certain to get somewhere in your quest for visibility.
Know what is ‘News’
Be aware of what is ‘newsworthy’, for the journalist will always look for a ‘news peg’ for the story. News is anything that creates impact, is timely, has human interest, sometimes creates conflict and is unique (such as being the first to market a product or service). Analyse what is your story and how you want to say it. And, if the information does not fit into a format to be truly “newsworthy”, then, take a step back and re-assess your pitch. Before you contact the media, do your homework. Study the different media channels (newspaper, online portal, TV channel, Radio FM band) and become an expert. Be aware of breaking news and current patterns of different channels, so that you can pitch correctly and also fit your client’s news appropriately.
When you’re thinking about calling a press conference to announce some news – like a product launch, event or corporate restructuring, always be prepared. Have all material ready at hand. Make sure you have a press release, press kit – all in place to meet the media. If you are on the phone, making calls, don’t just call without having a press release or a press note ready. Most editors may say, “Mail me the details” and if you don’t do it immediately, they may, just about, forget you. And, that’s the end of your story!
Be Honest, Incite Trust
Be straightforward, upright and honest. Stories that you present to the media ought to be verified and as precise as it can be, under the given circumstances. Remember, do not lie. Lying and being deceptive can get the media offended, which can lead to negative PR. And, you can say goodbye to any future media attention. Speak the truth, even if there is a crisis. It’s all about integrity, which should be upfront as far as PR professionals are concerned. For all you know, it may pay off, on a positive note! Being trustworthy, upright and straightforward can go a long way. Also remember, do not pass any adverse comments on the media. Negligent remarks can cause complications for you down the line.
Learn to Take “No” for an Answer
While PR is all about strategic storytelling, you may have to consistently pursue the media to tell your story. But, there may come a time when all your efforts will fail. In fact, it may damage your chances of ever receiving coverage again from a particular publication. If a journalist/editor says “No” accept it gracefully. You should know when to back off.
In your efforts to gain media coverage for your client, you should be aware that it’s more than just passing a press release on to a journalist listed in a database given to you. You may be on the phone all the time, and you may find it difficult to make contact. This is where your creativity will come in. Go out of your way to be creative and the press will listen and connect with you. Innovation will pay, whether it is to connect or create a PR plan.
Power of ‘Listening’
The most ideal approach to have a story out, is to talk specifically with the media, but do not forget to listen. Don’t do all the talking in your enthusiasm to promote your client. Whether you’re physically meeting with the media or you are ‘listening’ or monitoring conversations online, be aware of the power to ‘listen’. Always listen carefully, for it will help you, to both meet and solve challenges, and to build great relationships in PR.
Ultimately, appearance and perception are everything – understand how you are seen by the media, and you cannot go wrong in building perceptions.
So, you must learn to cash in on PR and engage with the media. For, this will give you the winning edge!