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10 Tips For Improving Public Relations Within Your Industry

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Some business owners really do believe that their competitors are luckier than they are when it comes to getting their press releases or story placements into the right, targeted publications. If there is one sure and certain thing in the changing, evolving practice of public relations, it is that “luck” is never a component (at least not a stated one) of any successful PR effort.

If your competitors are successful at story placements and getting their press releases picked up by print and web periodicals, it is simply because they have learned how to work with reporters and editors. They have also, at least tacitly, agreed to respect the rules of the game as determined by the media.

Print publications and websites with local, regional, national and international reach receive thousands of faxed and emailed press releases every single day. No publication has enough editors to read every drop of this flood of information, and much of it is self-serving, barely masked advertising, not newsworthy or so poorly written as to defy belief. Here are 10 tips for improving public relations within your industry, divided into five general “Rules” of a successful PR strategy and five specific “Actions” you should consider taking.

Five general “Rules” of PR
Rule 1: Don’t “sell” your product or service

Pitch a unique story instead, to your industry’s particular journals or websites. All media pros know a sales job when they hear one, and many resent the treatment. Come up with an idea (or three) about how your company or product dovetails with a current topic of local or national interest.

Rule 2: Get help if you need it (and most do)
Some 90% of all press releases suffer from poor grammar, spelling mistakes and a total lack of proper formatting and presentation. This causes an immediate negative response on the part of the reader and destroys your credibility immediately. Any “luck” of getting a story just went in the trash along with your press release. If you are not able to write as good a press release as you just read in the Wall Street Journal or other big-city paper, get help, even if you have to pay for it. Are you worth it or not?

Rule 3: Business plan first, marketing plan second, PR plan third

The goal of the PR plan is to bring attention to your firm. If your website, marketing collateral and overall image is not in first-rate shape, you will be drawing attention to negatives instead of positives. Before your PR plan is developed, your business plan needs to have led to the development and use of a good company logo and corporate image. Following that, your marketing plan needs to have resulted in effective and consistent “brand ID.” Working to get press coverage before your marketing plan is firing on all cylinders is a recipe for disaster. Your website and your “marcomm” must be in total harmony with the verbiage and image presented in your press release.

Rule 4: Develop relationships in the media

Take local reporters out to lunch or coffee. Writers and editors can be most interesting people and most enjoy discovering new and different things. If they like what you tell them, and how you do it, you may just have an “in” with their publication.

Rule 5: Be a professional at all times

Effective PR people are already well versed in the rules of the press game, and stay abreast of new technologies and practices in publishing. Be a professional in your primary area, of course, but extend that professionalism to the way you interact with media pros. You will gain tremendous credibility, which always helps when it comes to pitching a new PR story.

Five specific PR “Actions”
Effective PR has many elements that must work together. When you need some new ideas for improving public relations within your industry, you can try the following specific actions, always tailoring them to the tone and personality of your business. Your first efforts, of course, should target the specific publications read by your industry’s movers and shakers.

Just remember that, in addition to industry-specific journals and newsletters and websites, there are general business publications and websites that reach your colleagues and competitors, too. Make sure to “spin” and “spec” the following Actions to the people in your industry first, then to a more generalized audience as you deem necessary.

Action 1: Create and promote a special event
It may be a company tour, or something related to a local school play – it can be just about anything. Just ensure that any charitable efforts result in your offering the proceeds to the appropriate charities. An event that is tailored to something in your own industry, of course, is ideal.

Action 2: Use a current news event to frame your release
If your financial planning firm specializes in tax preparation, use the news about possible new taxes to inform the rest of your industry about your specialty. In any industry there can be multiple focuses and sub-categories, so take every opportunity to let your industry cohorts know exactly what you are doing.

Action 3: Host a seminar
In tandem with your press release, announce a free seminar to your industry, particularly if you have a product or service that can be used by other firms. You can prepare take-away (or “leave behind”) materials that can further leverage this action, by disseminating your marketing message beyond the event itself.

Action 4: Announce the results of a new, relevant study
Depending on the specifics, you can range widely in the news section to learn of studies and reports that deal with major or minor aspects of your company’s product or service. If you can find a recent study that makes a compelling point about your company’s offering, by all means use it.

Action 5: Find a first-person story about people using your product or service
From your letters, emails or customer service files, identify one or more positive instances of your product or service being used in a new or different way. People enjoy a good story, so don’t forget to establish a good narrative with a challenge to overcome for the protagonist. When your product or service is framed as the answer to the challenge, you will generate goodwill as well as interest.

Source: Article Bliss


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1 Comment for 10 Tips For Improving Public Relations Within Your Industry

Terra Phanthanouvon | December 22, 2011 at 9:35 PM

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