The company my fiancée works for is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and given the pretty impressive resume this construction company has built over the years, she and I were discussing ways to bring attention to this milestone. Her company has done a pretty good job in commemorating the 75-year anniversary by creating a special logo that has been featured on posters around the office, cool swag like tumblers, pens, shirts, etc. and special events for employees and vendors. However, during our conversation she asked me a question that made my eyes widen, “how can we get something about our company in the local news?”
I gave her a few ideas and explained to her the importance of public relations, but the entire conversation reminded me that not every business has utilized the benefits of public relations; in fact, some don’t even know where to begin. While many companies out there are looking to develop the next big PR splash, some (and I would argue “most”) are looking for any level of publicity. Like my fiancée’s company, most just don’t know where to begin.
To get started, any company, or individual, needs to take a step back to the basics of public relations and develop a plan. If you’re one of those looking to get your name out there, here are a few tips:
Develop an Angle
When you’re deeply involved in any company or project, you may tend to loose sight of what makes your company so unique, but the reality is that every company, every person, every product has a story. There is always something that makes them different for the rest (if there isn’t, then you really don’t have to worry about PR because your company most likely won’t be around that long.) Understand what your company’s history is and what truly sets you apart from the competition and I’m sure you’ll find unique story angles that will lead to PR opportunities.
Meet the Press
The success of a public relations plan doesn’t always have to be dependent on you getting featured in Time Magazine or Good Morning America. While those would certainly be great for your business, you can reap major benefits from just about any media coverage. There are local newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio stations and bloggers in every region of the country—even yours.
Spend some time to identify all your local media outlets, especially those in which you know your customers turn to. Take it a step further and make note of specific individuals and what topics they frequently cover. In most cases, you’ll notice a journalist tends to cover the same general topics (e.g. technology, home improvement, local businesses, events, etc.)
Pitch Your Story
Once you’ve developed a few possible angles to tell your business’ story and identified what media outlets and media members you want to be featured in, create a personalized pitch for each of your targets. Write out a compelling, yet concise pitch (I recommend no more than three short paragraphs) that communicates what makes your company or product interesting, and more importantly, why it’s important to the audience for the media outlet your pitching.
Perhaps your integration company just signed on to be a dealer for one of the large home automation companies. You could reach out to your local TV news affiliate and tell them how you are now offering the local community an easy way to incorporate energy management, security and home entertainment into their lives. However, in this example, don’t pitch the actual product. The average person doesn’t care if you now offer Brand X, Y or Z. Pitch what the solution offers to the consumer and why it’s important to them. This is where the “news story” comes into play.
If you’ve taken the time to develop a pitch and reached out to the press, make sure you’re available to answer their questions or conduct a follow up interview upon requests. If you’ve told them all about your new showroom that is open to the public and they ask to come out for a tour, your showroom better be up and running with all the latest bells and whistles.
Every day, in every city, there are countless media outlets putting together stories. You company has a story and by leveraging the power of public relations, you’ll expose your business to a broader customer base while also lending additional credibility for your company.
Scott Moody is the Director of Public Relations at Marketing Matters (http://www.marketingmatters.net), a communications and design firm specializing in technology, consumer and custom electronics, audio-video, and related industries.