There are many business professionals – men and women – who read about other successful organisations within the media, and wonder how and why these companies have attracted so much attention. Often, the stories that sit there proudly in black and white describe very typical commercial scenarios that we have all been through – contract wins, growth plans, key appointments and so on. So how do these firms manage to secure the column inches, when your story is just as valid?
The answer lies in effective public relations. Whether they’re writing for a regional business title or a national consumer glossy, journalists can only carry out so much research by themselves. Yes they hunt out their own news stories, but they fill other editorial slots using the press releases submitted to them by PR agencies and consultants.
The pieces have to be written well of course – journalists won’t just use any old content. And there has to be a news hook that they believe will be of genuine interest to their readers (we’ll cover this in future blogs – all in good time!) But, if pitched correctly, they’ll welcome additional fresh material to fill their often daily bulletins.
So why don’t more companies step forward to tell their story? Sometimes it’s a confidence thing – they don’t believe their news is really that interesting. Sometimes it’s a supplier problem – they can’t find a PR consultant they can afford or who really embraces the essence of what they do. And sometimes, it all comes down to ego.
Time and again I’ve spoken to incredibly talented business professionals with a wealth of knowledge to share. Yet they’re reluctant to pursue a PR strategy of their own because they mistakenly see media relations as simply an attempt to boost the ego of the next Alan Sugar wannabe. Of course there are some people who’ll happily wear the ‘entrepreneur’ badge in search of their next slice of fame. But there is more to PR than this.
It is a difficult obstacle to overcome if you’re modest about your business efforts to date. But try not to see media coverage as something that only the bold and brash will pursue.
You might not like to call yourself an expert in your field. And an even greater number of you will shy away from being called a guru. But the chances are you have an abundance of insight and advice to share, that will inspire other business people to succeed and grow. So why not compile some thoughts or tips in an authoritative column? Wouldn’t it give you a nice feeling to know you’ve played a part, however small, in someone else’s professional development?
What’s more, if you run your own company or have a mid-high level management role, you are often a ‘face’ of that business. And whether you like it or not, customers like to see the personalities that make an organisation tick. People buy from people after all. Journalists may also look to you to comment on issues and opportunities relevant to your industry. By sharing your considered thoughts you become a trusted voice within your field, which helps build further customer confidence and, ultimately, fuels your growth.
So, try and look past any immediate awkwardness surrounding the thought of your face in the limelight. This isn’t the reason you’re going to engage with the media. Instead, you’re utilising the opportunity to inform, educate and communicate with your stakeholders – customers, the local community, potential new recruits, investors – whoever they may be.
It may take some getting used to, and your peers, friends and family may pull your leg when they see your first clipping. But it will all be said in playful jest. And, if all of this doesn’t convince you, if you don’t try to grab that vacant news space, you can bet your competitor will.