company in pune

PR – public relations and using press-releases for free advertising and publicity

PR stands for Public Relations. (A ‘press release’ is one aspect of public relations activities. The press release/PR initials are merely coincidental. PR means ‘public relations’.)

Public Relations, or PR, generally refers to the management of your business reputation, usually via media such as newspapers, trade journals, the internet – and radio and TV if you are a big company, or if you somehow become involved in a big issue of public interest.

PR is typically defined as having two main aspects:

1. The proactive management of publicity about your business to the public and/or your trade via different media, and

2. The reactive management of public awareness and opinions about your business in response to issues of public interest in which your business is one way or another involved.

Each of these two aspects is explained separately below.

N.B. Before the internet, the reactive aspect of PR (item 2 above) was of little concern to small businesses, whereas the reactive aspect of PR has always been an extremely significant consideration for large businesses. However the growth of internet social networking websites (sometimes called ‘web 2.0’ – i.e., websites which allow user interaction and postings, etc) has now caused even small businesses to be much more mindful of reactively managing public awareness, in addition to the earlier need to proactively manage PR.

1. Proactive management of publicity

Many small businesses fail to realize and exploit the amazing opportunities offered by PR – specifically generating publicity about your business through relevant consumer and trade media.
Many small businesses fail to realize and exploit the amazing opportunities offered by PR – specifically generating publicity about your business through relevant consumer and trade media.
Here is some useful terminology:
Here is some useful terminology:

Copy – ‘the copy’ is a technical term for the content/writing/article that you send or release to media (it’s also a term in advertising, where it refers to the text/words in advertising materials, hence the job title ‘copywriter’, being a person who is expert in writing for advertising – the term is very different to the term ‘copyright’, which refers to the ownership and protection of intellectual property).
Release/Press release – a submission or circulation of publicity material – in full usually ‘press release’ or ‘media release’ – typically an article or news story, often with a picture, diagram, table, etc., written in a style suitable for the publications/audiences targeted. Press releases should be official communications (obviously from the business concerned), with media enquiry contact details for further information (generally the PR agency for big company press releases, or the company/business itself if managing its own PR activity).
Editorial – factual stories or articles in press/media – as distinct from advertising. When press releases from businesses appear in text-based media they are regarded as editorial content, in the same form as other editorial items which journalists have researched/reported themselves.

All newspapers, trade journals, consumer magazines, and news/magazine-type websites need press releases from external companies with story to tell, to help fill their pages. Local papers particularly need news submitted by the local community or they have to pay more for journalists to go out and find news. Look through your local papers and magazines to spot the PR material submitted by commercial organisations. This will encourage you as to how easy it is to provide ‘news’ stories for the local press.

Many small businesses fail to realize and exploit the amazing opportunities offered by PR – specifically generating publicity about your business through relevant consumer and trade media.

PR ‘news’ must be submitted to the news department (editorial department if it’s a magazine) of the publication concerned. Increasingly online publications enable online submissions, and the range of media outlets vast now compared to a few years ago.

This wide choice means you should target your activities carefully – look for publications, printed and online, radio, etc., which offer the best access to your target audience, with maximum audience numbers and territorial/industry-sector coverage.

Email is nowadays the preferred format for submissions of news/editorial stories, but given the unreliability of emails, and the generally difficult nature of dealing with media even under ideal circumstances, it is good to follow-up or give prior warning of emailed editorial releases by phone or text. Persistence is important. Expect a success rate of much less than 100%. In time relationships will develop for you, and journalists and other media contacts will respond more positively, especially if you are consistent and helpful in your communications, and supply good quality material relevant to their audiences.

Local TV and radio are also amenable to PR, but they’re a bit more selective. Nevertheless consider local TV and radio as targets for your own PR activity for any business story of significance, local interest, or ‘novelty value’.
Ordinarily however, if you are a small company with a small budget, and keen to target local and/or specialised media, then you should be able to handle your own PR activity using your own resources.

If you are a small business and become involved in a very big news story then you are strongly advised to enlist professional help from a reputable PR agency. Press and media professionals can be utterly ruthless. Inexperienced people trying to manage a crisis or other big news story are very vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by journalists and editors.

Ordinarily however, if you are a small company with a small budget, and keen to target local and/or specialised media, then you should be able to handle your own PR activity using your own resources.

Be aware that the journalists will usually alter/edit your ‘copy’ or release, so don’t agonize over the precise wording, but do enough to make it interesting and newsworthy.

Generally journalists are very happy to deal direct with organisations rather than their PR agencies, so don’t be shy.

For big companies, dealing with very high profile media (such as national radio, TV, big websites, newspapers and big-circulation magazines and journals) to achieve publicity and exposure for your press releases and other editorial stories is a matter of cultivating relationships with journalists and editors. This is why most big organizations tend to use PR agencies to handle their media relationships, where PR specialists have many years experience and lots of contacts.

Take every opportunity to use PR creatively and frequently. It’s worth managing your PR through some kind of routine or standard process, to maintain a regular and consistent activity, and which can be delegated to a staff member when and if desired. For a little thought you can easily achieve the equivalent of thousands of pounds worth of display advertising per year, for no advertising cost.

Press-release publicity carries more credibility than paid-for advertising. People are largely unaware that much of what they read in the local and national newspapers is in fact carefully planned PR. They are therefore more receptive towards it and moreover believe it almost without question.

Photographs improve editorial ‘take-up’ by 100s%. This means that press releases which have an accompanying interesting and relevant photograph are far more likely to be selected and featured by the journalist and editor of the media concerned.

A good photograph in support of a press release will dramatically improve your chances of publication. Either provide your own, or if your story is an event that you will be involved with or plan to stage you can ask the press publication to send their own photographer.

Remember that press-release publicity is free. All it costs is your time, or what you pay a PR agency to do it for you. This can make it extremely good value compared with conventional advertising.
Always try to persuade the publication/journalist to include your business contact details/website address in editorial resulting from your PR activity. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes not; whatever, include these details in your release and ask the journalist/editor if they can appear. Many small publications/media are very happy to include these details in the editorial, and the value can be very significant. Usually a good story with a photo will occupy far more space – for free – than you would be happy to pay instead for equivalent advertising space.

Ask for editorial coverage before paying for display advertising. If you plan to pay for display advertising or inserts in any type of publication always ask before giving the order if you can have some editorial coverage as a condition of placing the advertising business. Many publications will agree at this stage, and you’ll have some free editorial to support the advert. Some publications combine the two and sell ‘advertorial’ feature space, which purports to be news but is really a large paid-for advert.

Surveys provide excellent material for editorial, and are used by many companies for publicity purposes. Any business can organize an interesting survey. See the guidelines about surveys and questionnaires below. You’ll learn something about your market and create a significant opportunity for free publicity. Read newspapers and magazines and you will soon see examples – even in the national broadsheets.

Always try to persuade the publication/journalist to include your business contact details/website address in editorial resulting from your PR activity. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes not; whatever, include these details in your release and ask the journalist/editor if they can appear. Many small publications/media are very happy to include these details in the editorial, and the value can be very significant. Usually a good story with a photo will occupy far more space – for free – than you would be happy to pay instead for equivalent advertising space.

2. Reactive management of public awareness

Do it now – old news is no news. If you’ve got something newsworthy don’t wait or the opportunity will be lost. Even simple things like staff promotions, qualifications attained, hobby achievements, staff joining, babies, all make acceptable PR stories, and always be on the lookout for the quirky and unusual.

If you are in a situation which is likely to attract press attention, then you must ensure that your staff are aware of your positions and policies. Ideally appoint someone with strong marketing and communications experience and skills to be in charge of press contact, and channel press enquiries through this person, so that other less able staff are not placed in awkward positions or forced to comment.

If you wonder why so many people are quoted in the news media as saying, “No comment,” it’s usually because they’ve been taught to do so, and are following a policy.

Any staff member who talks to the media about a serious issue (involving your business/organization) without proper training and briefing is liable to make matters worse, whether the original story is good or bad.

If press/media attention is potentially threatening to your organization’s reputation and image, particularly if you operate in areas which have a major public interest or are controversial for any reason, it is sensible for senior staff to undergo training in how to deal with the media, especially in crisis situations. Many PR companies provide such training.

Brief your staff and have a policy for dealing with sudden news stories which emerge on the internet/in the media involving your business, especially crisis situations.
Local community

N.B. This does not affect or undermine the rights of employees who might have good reason to act as ‘whistleblowers’ in raising or publicizing matters of corporate wrongdoing. Organizations have a duty to manage publicity so that it is fair, ethical and truthful. Suppressing the truth in many situations amounts to a criminal act, and great care must be exercised by organizational leaders in handling the transparency of any matter which could have serious legal implications.

Products, services, activities of organizations which can attract potentially serious/threatening/difficult media attention certainly include:

Health and safety
Local community
Local community
Equality, disability, racial/gender discrimination, etc
All ‘lower-levels’ of staff in large organizations (i.e., below senior or executive management) should be instructed not to talk to media representatives/journalists, and to refer enquiries and requests for interviews, etc., to an established properly authorised person or department in the organization.

Stress and illness among employees
Poor quality and poor customer service
‘Fat Cat’ syndrome (directors/executives enjoying great rewards and advantage)
Animals
Children
Quirky news stories – products that don’t work properly, poor service, corporate stupidity
There are others. Media is driven by what interests very big audiences.

Injustice

Each of these two aspects is explained separately below.

N.B. Before the internet, the reactive aspect of PR (item 2 above) was of little concern to small businesses, whereas the reactive aspect of PR has always been an extremely significant consideration for large businesses. However the growth of internet social networking websites (sometimes called ‘web 2.0’ – i.e., websites which allow user interaction and postings, etc) has now caused even small businesses to be much more mindful of reactively managing public awareness, in addition to the earlier need to proactively manage PR.

1. Proactive management of publicity

Read your local newspapers to see the sort of issues that create big headlines locally, and read national papers and news websites to see the sort of issues which can reflect very negatively on organizations. There are many.

Copy – ‘the copy’ is a technical term for the content/writing/article that you send or release to media (it’s also a term in advertising, where it refers to the text/words in advertising materials, hence the job title ‘copywriter’, being a person who is expert in writing for advertising – the term is very different to the term ‘copyright’, which refers to the ownership and protection of intellectual property).
Release/Press release – a submission or circulation of publicity material – in full usually ‘press release’ or ‘media release’ – typically an article or news story, often with a picture, diagram, table, etc., written in a style suitable for the publications/audiences targeted. Press releases should be official communications (obviously from the business concerned), with media enquiry contact details for further information (generally the PR agency for big company press releases, or the company/business itself if managing its own PR activity).
Release/Press release – a submission or circulation of publicity material – in full usually ‘press release’ or ‘media release’ – typically an article or news story, often with a picture, diagram, table, etc., written in a style suitable for the publications/audiences targeted. Press releases should be official communications (obviously from the business concerned), with media enquiry contact details for further information (generally the PR agency for big company press releases, or the company/business itself if managing its own PR activity).
Editorial – factual stories or articles in press/media – as distinct from advertising. When press releases from businesses appear in text-based media they are regarded as editorial content, in the same form as other editorial items which journalists have researched/reported themselves.

All newspapers, trade journals, consumer magazines, and news/magazine-type websites need press releases from external companies with story to tell, to help fill their pages. Local papers particularly need news submitted by the local community or they have to pay more for journalists to go out and find news. Look through your local papers and magazines to spot the PR material submitted by commercial organisations. This will encourage you as to how easy it is to provide ‘news’ stories for the local press.

PR ‘news’ must be submitted to the news department (editorial department if it’s a magazine) of the publication concerned. Increasingly online publications enable online submissions, and the range of media outlets vast now compared to a few years ago.

This wide choice means you should target your activities carefully – look for publications, printed and online, radio, etc., which offer the best access to your target audience, with maximum audience numbers and territorial/industry-sector coverage.

Email is nowadays the preferred format for submissions of news/editorial stories, but given the unreliability of emails, and the generally difficult nature of dealing with media even under ideal circumstances, it is good to follow-up or give prior warning of emailed editorial releases by phone or text. Persistence is important. Expect a success rate of much less than 100%. In time relationships will develop for you, and journalists and other media contacts will respond more positively, especially if you are consistent and helpful in your communications, and supply good quality material relevant to their audiences.

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