Pr Secrets To Unlock Your Promotional Potential

For many business owners, Public Relations (PR) efforts are a black hole, an unknown that makes them hesitant to invest time and money. Handled correctly and approached with realistic expectations, PR can be one of the most cost-effective tools in your marketing toolbox.

Here are five things every business owner should know about PR:

Fact #1: PR offers you several things that you can't buy with a paid ad. Articles are considered to be more credible than advertisements, so whenever you or your business is featured in an article, the reader considers the information more credible than whatever you say in an ad (where you are obviously trying to sell something). Articles--even short ones--usually say more about your business than will fit in all but the largest ads. Articles also have the benefit of being what someone else (the reporter) says about you, and hence are seen as more credible than what you say about yourself.

Fact #2: There are several important differences between advertising and PR. When you pay for an ad, you pay to have it run in a specific issue or at a specific time. A press release may generate an article six months after the release is sent out. Neither you--nor the PR professional--can control the timing. With an ad you have written and paid for, you control exactly what the ad says. While you can write a press release yourself, the article that actually runs is likely to be edited or changed by the reporter.

Fact #3: Short of owning the newspaper or the magazine, no PR practitioner can guarantee an article will get placed. Your publicist can put the information in its most attractive form in front of the best-positioned editors at the right magazines, and through personal follow up, can highlight the reasons they should be interested, but no one can guarantee placement unless they own the magazine.

Fact #4: One-shot PR doesn't work. Unless you are announcing a special event for the calendar page, releases don't get 100% pickup (and even with a special event, 100% placement is rare). There are many reasons for this, even when the release is properly written and sent to the right person. They include:
  • The editor has already planned the next several months (or full year) of articles and doesn't have room.

  • It reminds them of something else they've run recently.

  • They like the general idea, but this particular release doesn't strike their fancy.

  • They file it with future ideas, then leave the company, and the new editor pitches the old file and starts over.

  • There are too many possible article ideas and not enough space.
  • Your best odds of getting stories placed is to send out a new release every month--or as often as you can come up with something newsworthy--and stay on the editors' radar.

    Fact #5: Value is created even without immediate placement. Your publicist has researched the best newspapers/magazines for your target audience, identified the editor most likely to be interested in your story, written the initial release, emailed it to the editor/reporter, and followed up by phone or email. After that round of distribution and follow-up, editors will be aware of your company, and the next time they get something about you, they will be more receptive and already know who you are.

    The customer's timing to buy is not always your timing to sell. That holds true for editors as well as product buyers. Successful marketing and PR means keeping a consistent presence so that when the editor is ready to tell a story about your topic, he thinks of you. The key to success is being in front of the editor often enough that you are the subject of choice when an article about your specialty fits with their editorial need.

    The value of one positive article can recoup the effort put into the PR process, and can create much more business than a single ad. The biggest secret to successful PR is patience.