What Do The Papers Say About Your Business?

Probably, not a lot - unless you have invested in some proactive public relations to get your important messages across.

It is amazing how many franchises spend lots of money on setting up and developing their networks, creating websites, going to exhibitions and buying advertising but never think about managing the message through quality editorial.

They may neglect this valuable promotional activity for a variety of reasons - they are put off by the mystique that surrounds PR, the perception that 'only big companies can afford it' and, for many, a basic lack of understanding about how to go about it.

But one thing is for sure - while advertising, exhibitions, direct mail and e-marketing all have their place, good PR can enable you to reach the parts that others don't! Proactive public relations offers the potential to communicate with a vast audience, very cost-effectively.

You can do it yourself if you have the time, the right writing skills and the contacts. Alternatively, you could employ an in-house specialist or appoint a public relations firm to help you.

The benefit of using a PR professional is that they can quickly identify newsworthy opportunities and exploit them, because they know how to present information in a way that will appeal to editors and journalists.

In essence, effective PR is achieved by getting the right message to the right people in the right format at the right time. PR is about understanding how the media works, what journalists need and when.

It is important to remember that editors and journalists are always very busy and work to strict deadlines, so the more you can do to help them by giving them what they want, the greater the chance that your story will be used.

Here are a few basic tips that could help you to achieve the kind of coverage you want:

  1. Think about what you want to say
  2. Write your message in plain, concise and simple English and remember to put your contact details at the end of the piece
  3. Identify publications that your target audience reads
  4. Find out the names of the editors or most appropriate contact at each publication
  5. Contact the most important publications in advance by phone or e-mail with the bare bones of your story and follow this up with a press release or article
  6. Make sure you identify people in any photographs you send

On reflection, you may consider that it's a wicked waste of your executive time and that recruiting someone to work in house would be too expensive. You could call in a PR professional to help you. The Institute of Public Relations has a list of all its members and also operates a Matchmaker service that links businesses to PR specialists experienced in their specific market sectors.

It might just be worth making that call - if you want to maximise opportunities and hit the headlines!

Written by Gay Turner, MIPR. Gay Turner heads Warwickshire consultancy GTPR, specialists in franchise PR.