Let’s take a look at how public relations can help small companies to compete with the big boys.

If you are not a well-known brand, it can be very difficult persuading potential clients and customers to use your company. After all, why would anyone want to use your product or services when there are already established brands out there that they can use instead? If you are a small business trying to compete with bigger companies, you need to make people believe in what you do. This will be key to your success.

This is where a high profile press campaign can help. If a journalist writes about your company they are instantly validating the business, product or service that is being written about.

The public takes its lead from newspaper and magazine articles. They respect the journalists and publications that provide them with information. The fact that a journalist has chosen to write about your company, markets you in a way that is far more effective than advertising. Anyone can advertise if they have the budget, but for press coverage about your company to appear, a journalist has had to decide that your business is worth writing about. This is why PR has up to ten times the value of advertising. When you consider that the cost of a full-page advert in The Sunday Times is in the region of £56,000, the value of effective public relations cannot be underestimated by any business.

Standing out from the crowd

Press coverage will help your company to stand out from the crowd. An effective PR campaign will have to be designed to meet your business requirements. So if you are launching a new product or business, these articles will help create a well-needed buzz amongst potential customers. Press coverage can also help established companies to grow, building their profile and attracting new customers.

Companies can use press coverage to cement existing relationships with customers, clients or investors. Many of our clients display their press coverage on their websites or in their newsletters, as this helps build confidence in their brand. PR can also help with staff retention and recruitment. People are more likely to stay with a firm – or join a firm – that has a positive future.

But if you are not a well-known brand – how do you get journalists to write about you?

More than 60% of newspaper journalism is now PR driven and journalists are always looking for content. If you can provide the right journalists with the right stories and ideas, they will feature your company.

The importance of being targeted

The days of press release driven PR are over. Instead it is important that your activity is very focused, targeting the publications and pages that your potential clients or customers are likely to read. Take time to get to know these sections of the press, become familiar with their needs, and only offer ideas and news that is relevent to them. This specifically targeted way of working will have a far greater impact than a blanket approach, as you are helping the journalist to envisage where your company will fit within their publication.

Pinging out untargeted press releases will grab journalists’ attention, but not in the way you were hoping for. Journalists receive hundreds of news stories every day. If you send them irrelevant information, you will simply be adding to their workload and they will not thank you for it. At worst, unfocused activity can potentially damage your relationship with the press, and put them off wanting to write about you. At best, your press release simply ends up in journalist’s round filing cabinet on the floor.

How to approach journalists – basic hints and tips

Do your research – only speak to the kind of journalist that is likely to write about your type of company. It is no use talking to the arts desk if you run an accountacy firm.

Don’t leave messages on answerphones. It is much better to talk with the journalist in person. Some journalists do not like being called and prefer to communicate via email. If this is the case, make sure you remember this and don’t try calling them again.

Be strategic – get to know each journalist’s work. Make sure that you read some of their writing and work out what information would fit into their pages.

Only send relevant information, otherwise you are wasting your time and theirs.

Don’t overload them with information. Journalists are busy people, you need to get to the point, quickly.

Make life easier for the journalist. What can you offer them to accompany your news or idea. Hints + tips, case studies, or pictures will all help to make your story more appealing.

Don’t be too salesy. Your information needs to be newsworthy and relevant to the publication’s readers. It is not an advertorial.

Stay current. Get up to date with newsworthy topics in your industry. This will help you to think of subjects that will interest the press and will make your comment more attractive to journalists.

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