PR: One-Hit Wonder or Long-Term Results
As a PR consultant, I write – a lot.
We’re talking press releases, blogs, copy for e-newsletters, advertorials, agendas and reports for clients.
First on that list, and first for a reason, is press releases.
It’s one of the ways we PR people get stories into the press and media. Despite the increasing focus on digital versus print, press releases are still a big chunk of my job.
I was recently asked how much it would cost for me to ‘write a press release’. It’s not a question I particularly welcome – I’ll explain why – but it did give me an idea for a blog.
What’s the process, how long does it take and is it really that easy? What’s more, will it achieve your goals?
Research and Planning
If we’ve never worked together before, I’ll want to find out more about your business, your story, understand your sector and what you want to achieve. What’s your usual or preferred tone of voice? Have you engaged with the media before? If so, what about? Did it work?
Then we’ll need to discuss the content – the story and the messaging. If there isn’t a story, I’ll be up-front and tell you, offering alternative ways of getting your message out more effectively than a press release. Alternatively, we might want to pitch your news as an exclusive rather than distributing to a wider audience. A press release is one option but there are different tactics and approaches.
Who are you talking to? – this is absolutely fundamental. PR is all about the audience so clarity on this will help establish the tone and content, ultimately helping you engage with your audience(s) more effectively.
The context – now that we’ve established the angle and content, I’ll need to explore the context of that content. Perhaps your news sits alongside some new legislation, a national event, a new sector or technology. Please remember I don’t work within your organisation and, if we’ve never worked together before, I’ll need to understand the bigger picture at stake. This may require further discussions or meetings with yourself, your team or those you collaborate with. I’ll also want to establish what’s been written about this topic before.
A picture paints a thousand words and, more than ever, journalists want the words, images, videos, links, the lot – in one go. To fit with the way most of us now consume our news, they generally want to use it online and immediately. It’s my job to make the offering as digestible and attractive as possible so we’ll need to talk about photography, videos and anything else which can bring the story to life, provide context and help the news travel. There might also be scope for a media opportunity where we invite the press along.
Have you noticed I’ve not reached the writing bit yet?! Yes, that was all planning and prep and can take anything between one and three days’ alone.
Pen to Paper
The first draft – this is where I’ll start working on the writing. Prepare for me to come back and forth a little, fact-checking, asking questions, seeking clarity. Again, if we’re working together for the first time, expect to hear from me a few times before you see the first draft.
As well as ensuring you’re happy, we might also need to involve others – are we consulting or quoting anyone from outside your organisation? Do we need to seek approval from their PR team? Sometimes this takes longer than you’d think.
Distribution and Monitoring
Then there’s the crucial issue of what we do with the press release. Any decent PR consultant will have a wealth of press and media contacts and, if the sector or audience is new to them, will have the skills and ability to research the best news platforms and ensure the release is disseminated on the right day, at the right time, with all the extras intact. Similarly, I’ll advise on when you push the story out via other channels such as e-newsletters or social media.
I’ll also be the first port of call for any follow-up inquiries and filter them before passing them your way. Remember, you’re looking for pick-up and exposure so please be available on the day the story goes out in the event of media inquiries, follow-up questions or interview requests. I will, of course, also share the subsequent coverage, whether it’s links, PDFs or sound files – and details of its reach.
My last and important point is this – you wanted a press release, you got one, but one quick hit won’t achieve your goals. Only by taking a long-term, strategic approach to your messaging will you build trust, raise your profile and achieve your goals, whether it’s boosting footfall, sales, inquiries or attracting funding. More importantly, by getting to know you, I can help identify future opportunities, spark new collaborations and really add value for the long term.
One-hit wonders are just that, let’s work together again and plan for the future.
If you’d like to hear more, please get in touch. I’d love to get you know your business! – email@example.com or 07912 324 264.