To some business owners, the thought of doing their own PR is more terrifying than Blackpool’s Pepsi Max ride. It may surprise you, but this fear doesn’t derive from lack of technical understanding or awareness of return on investment, it’s often brought on by having no clue where, or how to start.
If this fear is something you can relate to then go grab a coffee, put on your ‘calm hat’ and take a look through part one of my step-by-step guide to getting started with PR.
Step one: Develop a solid strategy
So, you want to do PR; great, but why? What is it that is happening in your business right now that will be of interest to both the media and their readership? Perhaps you’ve launched a new product, or you’ve just set-up your business, or maybe even something significant has happened in your industry and you REALLY want to share your advice with others. Whatever the reason, it’s important you don’t throw caution to the wind and go at it blind.
PR is about so much more than just sending out a press release in the hope that your name will appear in every single media outlet in the UK; it’s about creating and sharing well-thought-out content that portrays the aims and values of your business, is structured around your business’ goals, and adds value to your target audience. This is what we call a strategic approach.
ACTION: Grab a pen and a few pieces of paper, and turn on that lightbulb in your mind to help you begin preparing your strategy;
The first thing to consider when creating a solid PR strategy is the why; Why do you need public relations and what do you want to achieve?
A good starting place is jotting down your business’ goals and objectives. If you’ve been in business a while, you’ll more than likely have already developed these, but if your business isn’t yet off the ground, you may need to spend a little longer drafting these up.
So, let’s say you’re a manufacturer of a revolutionary new product or technology (product A) that is designed to reduce businesses’ carbon footprint. One of your business goals is to reduce carbon emissions in the UK, with the objective being to reduce them by 10% before the end of 2020. What do you think your PR goal might be?
A. Increase sales of product A amongst businesses with high carbon footprint
B. Encourage everyone in the UK to be vegan
C. Get 1000 visitors to your website in one day
The answer is A – Increase sales of product A amongst businesses with a high carbon footprint.
Why? Because you need people to buy your product, especially those who have high carbon footprints, in order to make a difference to the carbon emissions overall in the UK. The more people who use your product, the lower carbon emissions there will be.
So, now that you’ve identified your PR goal, you need to start to think about how you achieve that through public relations and that involves identifying things that are happening within your business that will demonstrate your companies mission to the public, and raise brand awareness amongst your target audience.
To begin with, have a go at answering the following:
- What have we achieved so far that will help us reach our business goal?
- What do we have planned for the rest of the year that will help us reach our business goal?
- Are there any issues inside and outside of our industry at the moment that our product provides a solution to?
- What sets us aside from our competitors?
- What more could we do to reach our business goal?
These answers will form the foundations for the content you share with your target audience through public relations. Confused? Let’s use the previous example to demonstrate.
- Answer: We’ve signed a deal with a large company in the UK who will use our technology and reduce their carbon footprint by 3% – News story
- Answer: For every product sold, we will donate 5% to a local charity who plants trees – News story
- Answer: Yes, carbon footprint is a huge issue and we reduce that – Feature opportunity
- Answer: We are all volunteers for a local green charity and get involved with different events that reduce carbon emissions – Profiling opportunity
- Answer: We could develop a new initiative that gets people thinking about their carbon footprint, offering tips and advice on how to make changes – Blogs, news story, feature opportunities.
As you can see, you’ve already identified several public relations opportunities, all of which are relevant to your overall business goals. The next step from here is to ensure that each of these opportunities, whilst different in style, communicate the same message, and that’s where key messages come in.
Key messages are important because they help you stay on track with what you are saying whilst also enhancing brand recognition. To make any sort of impact, you need to be consistent and using key messages will ensure you do this.
Think about your business’ values and aims, your product, and your mission. Think about how you want people to perceive your business and what information you’d need to share with them. Then, formulate some key messages that can be included in all of the content you produce.
Most business owners know who their target audience is, but in today’s world, sadly that’s not enough. If you want to make an impact, you need to get to know your target audience inside, and that is done through the creation of audience personas.
Audience personas are fictional characters that represent your target customer and are useful in ensuring the content you produce is what your target customer wants to know. It’s usually a good idea to create three personas, but you can create more if you wish.
When creating your audience personas, it’s useful to follow the below steps:
- Decide on a name
- Decide on an age
- Decide on a job title
- Think about their behaviors – what are they doing at work and home?
- Consider the goals that they will have, both business and personal
- Consider their buying patterns
- Consider their pain points in business
Note: Customer pain points is perhaps one of the most important, so you need to also consider how you can provide a solution and why they should choose you over a competitor?
Once you’ve got to know your audience, the next step is to think about the kind of publications they will be reading, where they will be hanging out online and when is the best time to reach them, but you’ll have to wait for part two for that.
If you’re eager to find out sooner though, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.