Top 10 tips for PR success

Top 10 tips for PR success
Tara Tomes

Posted: Mon 31st Jan 2022

For too long, comms professionals have tried to keep the ingredients of PR success a secret. I guess it’s all about portraying the need to hire us, and as an agency owner of course I share that agenda, but I’m also very aware that not everyone has the budget for professional support.

Thankfully, over the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of brilliant marketers sharing top tips and advice to help support small business owners on a ‘DIY PR’ journey.

It’s one of the reasons that I launched Pocket Sized PR back in Lockdown 1.0 – a resource packed full of free PR tips, templates and how-to guides.

Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, I’ve heard countless times “there’s no way I could do my own PR,” and it’s simply not true.

Of course, working with a seasoned publicist gives you decades of experience and strategic thinking, a natural ability to find a PR hook, and a little black book of useful contacts, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to succeed. That’s why I wanted to share my Top 10 tips for PR success...

1. Know your audience

Knowing your audience is crucial when it comes to sales and marketing, but you need to put even more thought into it when planning your PR strategy.

Think about whether your ‘customer’ is also your ‘consumer’, as this can help you identify the best places to try and land press coverage.

For example, if you’re selling a children’s toy, you need to reach their parents and guardians, so you want to get into the newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs that they’ll be reading.

It can be so tempting to approach publications that you love, but remember that it’s only useful if you are your own customer. Otherwise, it’s a vanity project that won’t get the results that you’re aiming for!

2. Ask yourself why anyone cares

Stick with me here – as I know this sounds harsh at first! There’s no doubt that you’ll be selling your products and services because you truly believe in them. Whilst admirable, you need to find a hook that makes you stand out.

My top PR tip here is to sell a solution, not just a product or service; thinking about your customers’ needs. Do they have a specific pain point? Is your ‘thing’ saving them time or making life that little bit easier? Are you able to support them with something that they need?

Make sure this comes across in your PR, and also when you approach journalists. Remember: you’re selling to them too!

3. Craft your key messages

The key to effective marketing is knowing not just what you’re trying to promote but how you’re going to promote it. Define three or four key messages from the outset, which come across in your website, social media, customer emails, and your PR.

When you approach journalists, you want to tell them why your product or service is the best and why now is the perfect time for them to cover it. Your key messages can really reinforce that message.

4. Build a targeted press list

PR is a time-consuming, and sometimes thankless task; emails, follow-up calls and often no response from journalists, but stick with it. The results will come!

It can be tempting to opt for the ‘spray and pray’ tactic of blanket emailing journalists, but that is a sure-fire way to fail at your own PR.

Research the titles you’re trying to land coverage in, make sure that the journalist is the right person, and then nail your pitch (see point 8). There are ready-made databases such as Gorkana and Vuelio that do the hard work for you, but they can be costly so spend some time with your friend Google – look on the publication’s website, look in the printed magazine (if they have one), and try to find the journalist on Twitter.

You’ll usually be able to find the best way to contact the person you need!

5. Have all your ducks in a row

Before you even think about sending an email pitch or kick-starting your PR activity, make sure that you have everything ready for those journalist requests.

It can be really frustrating for them when they request hi-res images or cut-out shots, and then you don’t have them readily available -they’ll often move on to the next person without waiting for you to respond.

So, make sure that you capture the right images ahead of time: whether that be founder headshots, team pictures, product cut-outs or line sheets. Imagery is, by far, one of the most important things to get right.

A strong image can, honestly, be the difference between you landing the coverage and not. It’s also a good idea to have a press pack ready, full of the info and assets that journalists will need.

Fear not, there’s a step-by-step guide to creating one over on Pocket Sized PR!

6. Plan your comms calendar

If you’re launching your business, product or service next week it’s probably already too late to get the right kind of PR. Understanding how the media works is really crucial, so create your targeted press list and then work out what kind of lead time they’ll be working to.

For websites and daily titles, a week or two will be sufficient; then, for weekly newspaper supplements, radio shows or podcasts, you’ll probably want to allow 4-6 weeks. Monthly glossy magazines will often be working 3-4 months in advance, so organisation is key!

I know that it can be a bit daunting trying to work this out but over on Pocket Sized PR you will also find a downloadable marketing calendar for you to map out your campaign.

7. PR is about more than press releases

Trust me when we say that PR is about so much more than the humble press release. It still has its place but think about what PR really means: ‘Public Relations’, so how are you engaging with your ‘publics’?

Start asking yourself some key questions: are you communicating with your stakeholders, beyond just your customers? Is influencer marketing a tactic that’s going to work for you? Can you host events, pop-ups and experiential activity that promotes what you do? Are there collaborations that you can explore or ways to work with the community? Where does video come in and how can you embrace multimedia to make it work for you?

Think outside of the box and you’ll get your brand in front of your target audience in more ways than just a press release.

8. Nail your email pitches

The email pitch… the make or break of a great PR campaign! Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day, which means that getting yours right and making it stand out is crucial.

Having a tailored press list, where you’ve researched your titles and journalists, is the first step to take. Once you have that list, pen an email that’s going to really sell your product or service.

Make it targeted, refer to relevant articles they’ve written in the past or topical headlines/research that makes your email a timely one. Another great tip is to include searchable phrases in your subject line as journalists often file emails and refer back to them at a later date, so think about phrases that might be useful for the future.

9. Make your PR do the work

When you land that press coverage (which you will, even if it takes a few goes!), make sure that it’s not just something you show your partner or best friend. Make that PR do the work and tell a story!

There are copyright rules around replicating print coverage and putting it on your website so be careful not to fall into that trap, but you can still have a banner with ‘as seen in’ and the title’s logo with a link to online coverage.

Post about your PR success on social media too; not just the coverage but why not make a behind-the-scenes Reel that shows your DIY PR in action?!

Let customers know about it too by including links in your sales emails or doing added value offers on hero products or services that have been featured in the press.

Content is king in marketing so think about how you use that press coverage, blog post, video and imagery across more than just one channel!

10. Don’t give up!

Even if you follow the first nine steps and download all of the Pocket Sized PR tips and assets, I can’t guarantee success.

Sorry about that… it’s just how PR is! You can have the most incredible story, targeted at the perfect customer base, with direct introductions to journalists, and you still might not make the cut.

It’s the frustrating part of PR but what it does mean is that when you do land a #PRwin it’s even sweeter!

Remember, it might be a case of timing – the journalist you’re contacting might have already covered a similar story or product, or they’re just busy with something else more topical.

Never hound journalists but, of course, follow up your press releases and pitch emails with a second email or phone call. If you’ve done that and you still haven’t had a response (which is very normal, even for pros like me), think about whether re-framing your ‘why’ or selling it a different way could work.

Maybe even park the idea and re-visit PR again in line with a seasonal day or topical story - PR opportunities are never lost, so don’t be disheartened. It will happen!

So, there you have it: my top 10 PR tips for success, with some helpful links to help you along the way. Give @PocketSizedPR a follow for even more insights I’d highly recommend checking out the ultimate how-to PR bible by Lucy Werner called ‘Hype Yourself’.

Fellow Enterprise National advisers Fiona Minett (Boss Your PR) and Rosie Davies-Smith (PR Dispatch) are worth checking out on Instagram, too!

Finally, connect with Tara on Enterprise Nation here.

Tara Tomes
EAST VILLAGE. delivers exciting PR campaigns, engaging marketing strategies and show-stopping events for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. We're all about delivering #PRwithPersonality._x000D_

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