This is Part 1 of a 2 Part series on PR specialists and what they can do to help you manage your business messaging and reputation.
As your business grows more people will have a stake in it and will want to know how it’s getting on. So it will be in your interest to make sure that what they hear, read and believe, is on message. The best way to do that is through good PR. If you are not a natural at public relations it’s worth getting in a specialist. Here are just a few things to consider when looking for one.
What do you need?
Firstly, what exactly do you want them to do? Do you just need someone to write and distribute press releases or do you want someone who will help you raise your profile and build trusted relationships with key stakeholders in your business?
Stakeholders can be anyone with an interest, including your customers and potential customers, employees and suppliers, financiers and journalists, and the communities that you operate in. Each will have their own reason to be interested in what your business does and how it is managed.
A good PR specialist will be able to help you manage the messages that those stakeholders receive in order to create the most favourable impression. However be warned, PR can’t make a bad situation good but it can help by managing the story, and keeping people informed, until things improve.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that you are just looking for someone to deal with getting the simple stories out there. Press releases are a succinct way to get news out to the media and over to your audience. Your PR specialist can prepare and distribute your releases, and go the next step by following up to generate interviews and in-depth features with interested editors.
What’s their writing style?
A picture may be worth a thousand words but words are still important and it helps if your PR specialist can write for your audiences, in your voice. It’s not much use if your press releases are written in a highly technical or academic style if the potential audience are lay people who are not interested in complex ideas or jargon. Your written communications need to reflect the style of your business and take into account the level of detail that your audience will be comfortable with.
Contacts, contacts, contacts
Look for a PR specialist with experience in your business sector – it’s not absolutely essential, as they can easily do the research, but it will save time if they already have a list of media contacts for your sector, and all the key names on speed dial. They will have spent years building up those trusted relationships and they will be happy to use them to your advantage. If they also have experience in your particular field then even better as they will be able to speak to their contacts with some authority on your behalf.
..And there’s more
Of course communicating with your stakeholders is not just about press releases. Ideally, your PR specialist will have the capacity to write in-depth articles around the issues, as well as press releases around business activity. But what else might you expect them to do?
- Write speeches for events like launches and media conferences
- Arrange media interviews and introduce you to journalists and editors as ‘someone whose opinion they should be seeking’
- Find speaking opportunities, at major events, for key people in your business
- Advise on dealing with the media, particularly in a crisis situation
- Manage your social media
In the next part we’ll look at other things to consider. In the meantime, tell us what you might look for in a PR specialist. We would love to hear your comments.
*And you can read more great articles by Deborah here!