Scriba PR, a technical B2B communications agency, based in West Yorkshire

How NOT to do PR

First question: what exactly is PR?

Truthfully, 24 months ago I didn’t know the answer myself. In my mind, PR was something that celebrities needed to help extricate them from potentially sticky situations, and to ensure their public persona remained (relatively!) in-tact.

WRONG! Public Relations is so much more than that. To start with it isn’t exclusive to celebrities – far from it – but is essentially a tool to help organisations and individuals communicate with their public, via a range of media. A good PR team should know the most effective ways to facilitate this process, through a mixture of activities including – but not limited to – press releases, blogs, social conversations, events and webinars.

If you are actively seeking a communications agency, or if you have an in-house team that deals with media liaisons, it is vital that they know the best way to actively promote your brand. Otherwise, PR can potentially do more harm than good. And nobody wants to pay good money for something that could ruin the company it is supposedly supporting.

For that reason, there are some definite “dont’s” that you should consider when embarking on a PR campaign. Here are a handful of them:

1. Don’t send press releases generically

So, you’ve spent hours creating the perfect press release. Following the initial briefing chat, the drafting of the piece and the lengthy approvals process, you are proud of the content that you are preparing to circulate to the media. Don’t ruin it now.

Journalists receive hundreds of press releases on a daily basis, so if you send them content which is generic, impersonal or (god forbid!) you call them by the wrong name, they may simply press the ‘delete’ button. This is a shame, but a real possibility.

2. Don’t focus wholly on social media

The world of social media was shaken up on 21 March 2006, with the introduction of Twitter. It’s a great platform which businesses can use to shout about themselves, and – although it certainly took me a while to adapt to it – I now find it useful, engaging, and a great tool for liaising with other companies and journalists, as well as it enabling me to keep on top of the latest news.

But, although important, social media sites such as Twitter should only be used in conjunction with great content. For example, many people think (wrongly) that tweets – and posts on other sites, such as LinkedIn – are the key to raising their profile. This is incorrect – constant social media posts which have no substance can have completely the opposite effect. If you’re going to tweet, make sure you have something valuable to talk about. Link your posts to press releases, the company website, relevant events, blogs on your site and wider industry commentary. Don’t ‘twitter on’ for no reason. It’s pointless.

3. Don’t succumb to advertising fees

If your business has a valuable story to tell, there should be no requirement for you to pay huge sums of money for your press releases or blogs to be published. Newsworthy items including appointment stories, financial investments and relocation announcements – as well as research findings and evidences opinion pieces – will often be used in the media on the strength of their content alone (providing they are well written of course!)

When targeting a new title, it is important to remember that you will often receive correspondence – via email or phone – regarding advertising. Following the submission of your release to the editorial team, advertising departments will quickly contact you to offer various packages, but if you do not have the budget then be honest. It is also important to assess when it is advisable to take up a paid-for opportunity, as from time to time it may be highly beneficial, particularly for industry-specific media.

4. Don’t become complacent

Irrespective of the time you have spent on a PR campaign, it is vital to never become stale in your communications ideas. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities to spread the word surrounding your business, whether this be via social platforms, attendance at events, or even by hosting your own webinars.

Never limit your vision in terms of how you can become influencers in your field, and always look for new opportunities. There are countless awards schemes, networking events and training courses out there, which can all contribute to boosting your brand presence.

Overall, PR may seem like a minefield, but with a proficient and tailored campaign, it may be the missing element of your communications model. Don’t overlook it – or do it wrong!

For more information about how Scriba PR could help your business, please contact us on 01484 489333 or email office@scribapr.com. Our next workshop, ‘How to write the perfect press release’ will take place in the autumn – to register your interest, please contact louise@scribapr.com.

By Louise