An Introduction to PR Marketing
Do you want to see your business or products featured in the press?
Perhaps you’ve seen a gift product featured in a glossy magazine and know your collections would be a perfect choice too.
Maybe you know that magazine features and newspaper mentions can convert into real buyers.
Whether it’s the glowing feeling of seeing your products chosen for a feature or the financial reward that is sure to follow press attention PR is a great way to get your business noticed.
There are many facets to the world of public relations (aka PR) but in this introduction, we’re looking at PR marketing.
Undertaking actions to get your business and products in the press, rather than waiting for the media to find you.
What is Public Relations (PR)?
PR or Public Relations is all about reputation, what you say or do and in turn what other people say about you.
In terms of marketing activity for your company PR takes care of your reputation. Work is undertaken to build and maintain a good reputation for your company.
You connect with the media to share information about your products, service and business. Creating newsworthy moments that can be converted into stories and features.
These articles and mentions are then publicised to help you build a customer base and grow your sales.
Who is PR Marketing for?
When it comes to getting featured in the press, this is a marketing activity suitable for every greeting card or gift business.
You don’t need any modern technology or equipment. You don’t need to hire a fancy PR agency. If you have access to a computer, phone and email you can research and pitch to different media outlets.
Why Use PR Marketing for Your Business
Going back to where we started, PR is about reputation.
People buy from brands they know, like and trust. In today’s world, easy access to internet-ready computers, tablets and mobile phones means any buyer can assess your reputation in a matter of seconds.
If they find a good reputation for high-quality products, good customer service and fast delivery they see signals that they can trust you.
If a buyer finds bad reviews that rubbish your products, moan about your customer service or complain about deliveries they will back away from you in a heartbeat.
A good reputation quite simply leads to more potential for customers and sales.
Reaching a New Audience
Getting featured in the press is a great way to reach a new audience. A mention in a newspaper or magazine may introduce you to a section of society that has never heard of your business before.
Converting Browsers to Buyers
Once people know who you are it’s all about moving the audience from browser to buyer, which is where good press helps. Press mentions can help you here. If your product is chosen as desirable by a magazine editor prestige is attached to your product. Your offering aligns with everything the magazine deems exceptional.
Types of PR Marketing Activities
There may be times when you have to also deal with bad stuff. If there is a genuine crisis, someone being hurt by one of your products for example, you need to stay calm, establish the facts and then prepare a response. But these genuine huge events are rare, hopefully non-existent for most companies.
As the majority of card & gift companies are small businesses, that small percentage of the time when you come across something negative it’s most likely to be a disgruntled customer who posts something bad about you in an online forum or on your social media page.
When this happens you need to stay calm, try not to take it personally and once again establish the facts and respond. This may be wherever the negative comment originated, or you may prefer to take the conversation to a more private space, such as email or direct messages. Your response will be dictated by the situation.
Again, hopefully this will be an incredibly rare situation.
The majority of the time you will be attempting to generate good press, and your activities will include:
- Writing and distributing press releases
- Creating a story pitch for a journalist or publication
- Responding to journalists enquiries
A press release is an official statement issued to the media giving information on a particular topic. For card and gift companies this will usually be the launch of a new product or service. It might also include changes in the company; a new policy, a new hire etc.
Another way to get featured in the press is to pitch journalists with a story idea. Rather than focusing on your products this will focus on something newsworthy about you or your business.
Many magazines, newspapers and blogs write articles about entrepreneurship, careers and lifestyle subjects; while these may not directly talk about your products, they will give a wider view of your business and start getting your name out there.
Pitches to journalists and publications give you the opportunity to establish your expertise and the values of your business.
You should be aware that pitches can go two ways: either the journalists writes the story and you help, or you write the story. The latter will happen more if you’re talking to a publication that sources articles from freelancers. Be aware of what your pitching and be prepared for writing an article, if that’s what’s needed.
Alternatively you may also set aside some PR time to look for opportunities to help a journalist. Many journalists and bloggers use social media to find sources and quotes for articles they are developing.
In responding to journalists enquiries you can play a part in an existing piece and get yourself a little free publicity.
What Do You Need to Start Using PR for Your Business?
So we’ve considered three basic activities for generating good press: press releases, pitches and responding to enquiries. But what do you need in place to carry out these tasks?
Well there’s no hard or fast rules but here are a few things that might help:
The joy oF blogs for PR comes down to 2 things. First a blog can establish your expertise. secondly a blog showcases your writing skills. If you’re pitching a story idea, or wanting to provide a quote for an article, pointing a journalists to your blog, gives them an easy way to assess your reputation and who you are.
Like your blog you social media profiles can also help journalists judge who you are. If you’ve got an active social media following and you’re putting out good content, this will encourage people to work with you. If your Twitter profile is an egg or your content looks spammy, the media won’t want to talk about you.
Being Easy to Contact
PR also requires you to be easy to contact. Journalists and bloggers often have a quick turnaround on researching and writing articles. Print journalists will often have fixed deadlines that they can’t miss. This means that you need to be at the other end of a phone if and when you’re needed. If a journalists only has an email contact for you and you only reply to your emails once a week, you’re likely to be passed over for the person who says “here’s my mobile number, call me anytime”.
PR and the Card and Gift Industry
I’m still trying to work out a good way to measure how effectively the greetings card and giftware industry uses PR.
I recently reviewed how over 600 companies utilised the free PR services at an industry trade show. My research showed that just 9% of the companies exhibiting had used the show’s PR services.
Combined with this I have over 10 years experience receiving press releases. I’d estimate 90% of what I receive are irrelevant or aren’t good enough to be turned into a feature.
Together these two tiny bits of info would suggest that our industry struggles with PR. I have however seen examples where this definitely isn’t the case.
I’ve seen an up-and-coming greetings card designer featured on the front page of a national newspaper’s business supplement.
I’ve also seen an established greetings card company owner speak at numerous trade shows and business events.
My current feeling is that the majority of card and gift companies do find PR difficult. In future research I hope to find out why, but I think a lack of knowledge may be one cause. I will therefore be sharing a few PR lessons in upcoming articles and training.
My Experience with PR Marketing
When it comes to PR Marketing my experience covers both sides. As a blog owner people want me to feature their business. And running a small business there are times when I myself want to be featured in the press.
There are a few reasons why card & gift businesses are not getting more press. Bad timing, poor understanding of the system and lack of a targeted approach to mention just a few.
The good news is that the mistakes made are easy to fix. In my own experience, I’ve found it straightforward to be featured in the press. I’ve had stories written about my business and I’ve written articles for other publications.
In future articles and training, I’ll be sharing the methods people can adopt to increase their chances of featuring in the press.
Getting Started with PR
We’ll be taking a closer look at PR in future training and resources but if you want an idea of the steps to getting started, it looks something like this:
- Create a wishlist of publications where you would like to see your business of products.
- Decide on the type of feature you would like to pursue.
- Create a basic press kit for your business so you’re PR-ready.
- Research your chosen publications and find contact details for the relevant journalists.
- Write a bespoke pitch and send it to the reporter.
- Follow up your pitch if you don’t hear back.
- Review and repeat.
Hands up if you want help using PR to market your business?
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