The GrowthMinds Quick Guide to public relations

Getting in the news with effective PR

PR is an invaluable channel. However, putting out a press release is not enough. Read this guide to increase the appeal of your stories, and to add the personal touch that journalists love.

In this guide, you’ll find out:

  • How PR can be crucial in igniting a growth strategy
  • How to find an angle that really gets attention
  • And what to do if your PR has no news value.

Why you need PR

Want to boost your brand, and get the word out about exciting news? You need PR.

PR uses media channels to reach target audiences with company news. Unlike advertising, PR is about sharing company stories or news, rather than sales messages. PR is about telling a corporate story and in turn improving the audience’s knowledge and perception of a brand.

PR is particularly valuable for:

  • Communicating a brand’s vision and identity with target audiences
  • Creating a market impression of success that leads to trust
  • Generating traffic and income from target audiences
  • Prompting excitement about a forthcoming event or product launch
  • Enhancing growth activity across other channels, such as social, content and particularly SEO

 

Where to start

frame for journalistic outreachIf you’re thinking about running a PR campaign, start by assessing your objectives:

  • Do you want to target investors?
  • Do you want to launch a product?
  • Are you wanting to raise profile above that of a competitor?

Then, think about what stories your business has that fit these objectives. And be honest with yourself: are they really of interest to the world at large? What’s your news?

  • Do you have a funding announcement?
  • Are you launching something genuinely unique or game-changing?
  • Or is your news piece just another ‘me-too!’ corporate announcement which won’t get past the first hurdle?

 

Writing your release

If your story’s strong enough to stand up on its own, congratulations! Create a short release of around 500 words which is well written and has the basic information with some quotes. If possible, get some high-resolution images that you can share with any journalists who are interested in taking your story.

 

Getting the word out

There are easy and tricky ways of going about putting out your press release. The easy way is to use a press release distribution provider such as BusinessWire or Cision. For a fee of a few hundred pounds they’ll distribute your releases to their media lists.

However for a more targeted approach you can research your own lists of targets and send emails directly to them. The good thing about this is you know who you need to follow up with to facilitate coverage.

 

Think about tracking

Before your release goes out, think about tracking. You’ve already decided on your desired outcomes so now think about how you’ll measure the PRs impact against your objectives. How to measure:

  • Revenue impact
  • Website visits
  • Social follows
  • Sales conversion rates and how they may have been improved
  • Digital chatter about your company

You’ll also want to make sure that your website is prepared with the right content to greet any visitors arriving as a result of your PR. Check your messaging is clear, and consistent with any media coverage.

 

In summary

That’s a whistle-stop tour of PR for any newbies. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

What if you don’t have a natural news story, but still want to get exposure? We’ve shared some of our knowledge and experience below if you want to get more into it.

Our own PR strategies have been refined over decades-worth of knowledge and experience, both as PRs and as former journalists. So of course, we have a lot to say about PR!

If you’d like to chat more, get in touch.

Our model for getting really good PR coverage

It took us years to develop our model for getting really good press coverage, and we picked up more than a few cuts and bruises along the way.

Here we’ll share some of our approach with you so you can go about your PR activities in the best way possible and avoid getting into scrapes.

We believe that when done well, PR is an invaluable channel for our clients, however we see far too many companies putting out press releases that simply hold no interest to anyone besides that company’s management. As we mentioned in our quick guide, it’s so very important to be honest with yourself about whether your story is actually going to interest the masses. Sadly, making a few geeks shiver doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to PR. You need to have something with broader appeal, at least on an industry or local level. If you don’t, journalists are not going to give you the time of day.

At GrowthMinds, we only put out news announcements if we believe a client has a genuine story to tell. And when they do, we work hard to make sure that your story gets noticed, with as much traction as possible.

Part of the secret here is crafting a number of different announcements that frame client’s news with the most relevant and engaging angle for each of the different publications that we are sending to.

 

1. We focus on quality

Every press release we share is written by a qualified journalist for maximum impact. When writing the releases we ensure that they each have no more or less than three key messages. This helps make sure the client’s core business purpose is shared but doesn’t overwhelm journalists with irrelevant information. After all, there’s only space for so much.

 

2. Personal touch

We don’t bulk send press releases to multiple individuals as blind copy, nor do we use press release distribution services. Rather, we send personalised emails to each one of our media contacts, giving a snapshot of the news, and why we believe it will be interesting to their audiences. This way we can ensure that we avoid spam filters and activate a genuine discussion.

 

3. Selling in, and follow ups

As for following up on a press release, don’t just call an hour after the release ‘to check it’s been received’! There’s really nothing to be gained by doing this, and just annoys the journalists that you want to work with you.

If you want to chat to a journalist about whether they are going to take a piece, put in the call before distributing the announcement. Explain what you have to share and establish if there is broad appeal. It will give you the chance to tailor the release further before they go out. Then you can send them the release with the full info to draft a piece from. If you do this there’s much more logic to following up after sending the release as there is an existing discussion to continue.

We’ve learned from experience that doing things this way leads to great news coverage. If you’re after maximum press coverage, why not try this approach yourself next time – you’ll not go too far wrong.

 

… what if it’s not news?

If you don’t have an announcement with inherent news value then all is not lost. In fact, 90% of GrowthMinds’ PR activity is spent generating coverage for our clients without a news hook. You have to work harder at this area, but it’s still completely doable and can actually be rather fun.

 

So, where do you start? We’ve got several effective strategies and approaches that we can share:

Feature pieces

First and foremost, we craft exclusive feature pieces that explore a topic or industry challenge from a new perspective. These pieces are offered to key media titles on an exclusive basis and are prepared just for them and their audiences.

These are generally created as feature pieces but can also sometimes be guest blogs. We come up with the concept for the piece and pitch it to the media titles we’re targeting. If the media are interested in the editorial overviews we provide, we then task our journalism team with writing the pieces in full, and give them to the titles.

Feature pieces are generally between 600-800 words in length and address a subject which is an industry focus, suggesting how perhaps a new approach which is central to our client’s businesses can improve and enhance the legacy situation. These pieces are soft sells, placing client names and services in an informative setting, rather than as a hard sell.

 

Creating a great feature piece

The best feature pieces typically include one key challenge that is explored and commented upon by three knowledgeable sources:

  • The first could be an industry expert who can remark on the challenge and the need for disruption.
  • The second could be your company / our client talking about how x-service provides a solution to the problem discussed.
  • And the third expert could be a company from within the industry who have already tried the type of solution and can report on what the impact has been and what their recommendation is for successful deployment.

If you’re looking to get coverage in the front pages but don’t have a story to tell, there are some long-standing industry techniques for generating a story where one may not previously exist.

 

Generating a story

GrowthMinds use a variety of techniques that include, but aren’t limited to:

1. Surveys / reports

Undertake a survey or report to develop a new market view. This tactic is heavily used by larger organisations who know the benefit that PR brings but have long since had anything remarkable to say.

The business will commission a report looking at trends that directly relate to their services and will release the findings to the media, securing coverage and if the story is strong enough, broadcast interviews as well.

These surveys need to be carefully considered, so that the key finding reference a client’s business objectives otherwise the value of the time and money invested is not realised.

 

2. Celebrity endorsement

Sign up a celebrity to front a campaign. Charities love this tactic and it does work particularly well for them. It helps if the celebrity involved has some relationship with the cause or product, otherwise the tie is not strong enough for more than a passing mention.

 

3. PR stunts

Carry out a PR stunt, and do something interesting. Great for product launches, or for seasonal campaigns, a PR stunt often involves having a physical event in a city location which represents a business’ key messaging in an interactive experience for a passing audience.

 

4. Competitions

Run a contest or competition. Something that is more effective for middle page coverage rather than front page. Unless you’re prepared to be very generous with the prize!

 

5. Award submissions

Win an award. Generally a B2B tactic: companies submit multiple award entries, spend time ensuring that they are compelling and likely to win and then announce their success in trade press.

 

6. Case studies

Make business growth public with unique stories of why and how. Case study growth is really popular in some industries. Not a mile away from the exclusive feature approach, it involves working with a key client (or proof of concept) and pitching in what they did, why and how it worked to an industry publication. If the client in question is a big name, this can be really quite effective.

 

7. Opinion pieces

Have an opinion on a current news story and offer it to journalists as a quote. Here, a PR will spot an emerging news story and will contact journalist contacts with the offer of a spokesperson and comment to enhance their reporting of the story. If the comment offers a varying opinion and adds value to the piece then a journalist will likely use the quote, so long as it is provided in a useful timescale.

 

Putting it all together

All of these techniques can be used to gain PR coverage, and GrowthMinds do take advantage of them when we feel a client’s story and brand will be enhanced by them.

Our client’s story and brand comes first with all of our PR activity. We use our own experience, knowledge, contacts and techniques to enhance it, and work very hard to do so. You can do the same with hard work and perseverance. It’s just a case of dedicating the time and thought to achieving success.

 

Measuring PR impact

The challenge lies in measuring the impact of PR activity. We growth marketers love close control of data and it’s a source of frustration that, for now, measurement of PR activity is an exercise in calculation rather than absolute fact. The closest a growth hacker can get to hands-on factual analysis, is to monitor performance of brand channels before, during and after a PR campaign and create filters that screen out the majority of non-media traffic.

 

Value for money

The saying goes that ‘there’s no such thing as bad PR’. There is however, certainly such a thing as money wasted on ineffective PR activity. GrowthMinds avoids this by employing these methodologies, along with many others. We’d recommend you do the same by following our tips above.

Feel free to drop us a line if you’d like to get any more insights.

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