by Hillary Knauf
The traditional marketing mix consists of advertising, sales promotions, personal selling, and public relations efforts. Public Relations, in the broadest sense, is the function of generating goodwill toward a company or organization. PR focuses on the relationships that are created between an organization and its public (i.e. employees, shareholders, suppliers, or even the general publics). The public can even include the competition! Anyone who may affect the company or whom the company may affect, is a member of the public or a stakeholder.
Public relations uses the media to communicate with the general public, and although it may seem like advertising, it is not. PR is not paid for. Rather, PR managers rely on newsworthy events to get their ideas placed in the media. Unfortunately, PR can be uncontrollable; the media may or may not provide coverage of an event that is deemed important by an organization. Because of the low cost of PR, in comparison to advertising, and its ability to generate awareness of a particular of products or events, there is a great return on investment.
Here are a few ways to jumpstart your company’s consumer PR efforts:
1. Press Releases
Write a press release (news release) and upload to a newswire service: Press releases should be a one-page sheet about an event, service or product launch. The event must be summarized and catch the media’s attention or it will be of little use. When completed, upload it to a newswire service like PR Newswire, PR Web or Business Wire and increase the exposure of your release to both the media and potential customers searching the Internet for your products or services as the release remains posted online.
2. Fact Sheets
Similar to a news release, fact sheets contain factual information about an event, product or service.
3. Feature Articles
Much of the media will develop and run feature stories or articles about some event (or product or service). Share your expertise via a feature article about a new product, an industry trend, a case history or how to do something. Also, don’t forget to include a small blurb about yourself, your title, and your qualifications at the end of the article to add credibility.
4. Media Kits (or Press Kits)
A basic media kit should include a news release, photos, and additional information about an event or product launch. Usually, a fact sheet is included, as well as expanded information about the company (a short history, recent company press, etc), and people involved in the event. Media kits can be also made into an electronic format, which is more versatile in today’s workplace.
5. Email Campaigns
Email is the preferred method of contact, and is an ideal way to develop a relationship (and stay in-touch) with the news media. Make sure your email campaigns are relevant, to-the-point, and are sent out on a regular (monthly or quarterly) basis.
These are just a few basic tactics to get your PR initiatives started—whether you choose to do these on your own or with the assistance of a skilled professional.
Hillary Knauf is a public relations advisor based in Newport, RI. She can be reached by email at hilknauf (at) hotmail.com.