There is lots of advice out there on how to effectively communicate with journalists, how to write dazzling press releases and how to meet press deadlines. However, one of the golden rules which is often over-looked is plain old preparation.
PR isn't rocket science, if you have something newsworthy and it is communicated to the right journalists in the correct manner, then it will be published. The trick to PR is to make sure that when you launch your new product or service, you are in a position to take advantage of all the opportunities that might come your way from the press.
What often makes me extremely anxious are articles by experienced PR professionals giving out advice on ‘how to do PR’. They often give formulas on how to write press releases, what to do with them, how often to call a journalist and when to call a journalist.
The advice that these articles give is often correct, but what these articles can’t give you is actual experience in implementation of these methods. It’s the experience of implementation that separates those who get exceptional coverage in the press and those that don’t.
The following rules don’t tell you how to become the next Max Clifford, or give you the perfect formula to write press releases, however it will prepare you for that call at 5.30 on a Friday night when a journalist calls and says; "Hi, I know its last minute but do you have an image to go with this press release you sent me, and do you think your MD might be able to answer a few further questions?".
So here are the golden PR campaign preparation rules:
1 - Prepare photography - this includes spokesperson shots, product shots, screenshots and anything else that might by relevant. The more pictures the better, there is nothing worse than seeing a news piece printed 20 times over and they all use the same picture!
Also, make sure the images that you have prepared are of high enough quality. These days most journalists use digital images, a rule of thumb is to provide images at over 300 dpi (dots per inch) but don’t expect a picture from your digital camera you got at Christmas to be enough.
Likewise the 4x3 print or digital image of you at the office party or on holiday will not be good enough either.
2 - The elevator pitch - Make sure your spokesperson has a couple of quotes in preparation for a journalist interview.
Journalists will often call and follow up some news with a further quote, make sure that you have something prepared so that the journalist can call you and get some value from a conversation with your PR person or spokesperson, this will encourage the journalist to call back for comment in the future.
Also, if you are making an announcement in conjunction with another company, make sure your PR person briefs the other spokesperson to ensure that your messages and quotes all tell the same story.
3 - Corporate profile - If you are launching a new company or adding to an existing product range, make sure you can provide a journalist with some company background.
Another golden rule of PR is not to assume a journalist’s knowledge, remember they deal with hundreds of different companies everyday and many of them have similar products so it would be understandable if they occasionally got it wrong.
One good PR technique is to always reiterate your company services and products when appropriate each time you meet or talk to a journalist. Remember, your company is growing and changing all the time, each time you meet a journalist your company will have changed.
4 - The press pack/online press office – Journalists often like to receive background information when writing a story or preparing for an interview.
The two best mediums for providing this information are the traditional printed press pack, or the more modern press office online. Both will essentially provide the same information, including, corporate background, images, biographies of senior personnel, current press releases, product/service datasheets, cases studies and company brochure.
Obviously this information changes depending on company to company but the basics always need to be there so a journalist can easily find what is required in the manner they are accustomed.
These are the basics when it comes to a press relations campaign preparation, but there is of course much more. As an experienced PR person, in my opinion there is no substitute for hiring an in-house press relations officer or PR agency with skills and contacts in your industry when looking to launch a new service or product.
When it comes to announcing your products and services to the media, perception is everything, which is why preparation is ultimately so important.
Produced by Pietro Ranieri, director, Ranieri Public Relations – www.ranieripr.com