A huge amount of confusion was formed about the concept of Public Relations. Let's bring things down a bit.
In the broadest sense, PR is about the public’s perception of the company, its owners, management, products, services, philosophies, vision, and more.
The purpose of PR is to paint the picture you wish the public to see, create events and media exposure to further the goals of the company, and respond to news about the company, whether flattering or troubling.
While an argument could be made that a storefront, website, the Facebook page is part of PR, the more general idea is that PR is more interested in the breaking news than the more static elements of the company’s image.
You could also argue that daily postings on social media are PR, and they sometimes are. PR generally limits its activities to focused image creation, rather than ongoing advertising or content campaigns.
Now that we’ve covered what PR is, let’s look at three separate jobs that the PR department does cover.
Creation, packaging, and distribution of news about the company is the most traditional job for PR. This might include new products, attendance at meetings, major shifts in personnel (new hires, promotions), mergers and acquisitions, financial information, or anything else that the press would find interesting enough to publish.
Events, media opportunities, attention-getting gimmicks, sponsorships, working with influencers, and product placement.
Reputation management. Before we entered the review culture, this had primarily to do with responding to mostly bad publicity related to the company. Now, there is a need to create good reviews or comments and respond to negative ones. We will deal with this aspect of reputation management in much more depth. Show icon for reputation management page here.
Every once in a while, you can see where a company has “fixed” its image. I recall years ago when Bank of America had a horrible image. Then they made few changes in the way customers were dealt with when they came to the bank. Almost overnight there was an improvement in their reputation, and that new image even improved their stock price.
Subtle changes in the way even small companies conduct business can have a big impact on future sales and profits. But sometimes we have to tell the public about the changes if we want the full impact.
The public you need to reach with your news is generally very limited. It might be the folks in your local town. It might be the retailers in a certain trade vertical. It might be all consumers who are fans of a specific music genre, sport, or fashion. Therefore, the first job of the PR staff is to know what media or method to use to achieve the desired goal.
The media possibilities are almost endless, but include (most are print and/or online):
PODCASTS, YouTubers, INFLUENCERS
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PUBLICATIONS
LOCAL RADIO/TV OUTLETS FOR BIGGER EVENTS
SPECIFIC PR APPLICATIONS (eg. PRLoG.COM BUSINESSWIRE.COM AND PR.COM)
ALL SOCIAL MEDIA
INDUSTRY TRADE PUBLICATIONS
YOUR WEBSITE, BLOG, YouTube CHANNEL
Of course, knowing the media is great. Now, you need to know how to "convey" your message to the chosen media. PR messages are very different from social media or advertising messages. To some degree, you are wrapping your message in a story.
The story is what you need to sell.
Here are the key rules for creating a PR storyline. This applies to blogs, as well.
The headline must attract the reader to advance to at least the sub-headline. Some pundits suggest you spend as much time on the headline as you do on the body. I’ve seen some who say you should have 10 headlines and then choose the best from among those.
The headline rules for PR releases are not that different from email subject lines, YouTube headlines, etc.
Use emotional words. Get the reader’s heart started.(If it bleeds, it leads)
Use active voice verbs, not passive. (He hit the ball)
Use action, transitive verbs. (Stay away from to be verbs)
Make sure your headline is covered in the story.
Don’t hide your big point. Some folks will only read the headline
For all online applications, you also are talking to Google. You will become an indispensable asset to any digital marketing position if you learn to write in Google even while maintaining the rules of good writing for the content you are creating. Make sure your keywords are in the headline.
The biggest job of the sub-headline is to advance the story enough to get the reader to the body of the content. What new additional tease of information can you provide that will keep the reader engaged.
You can also help the search engine optimization with additional keywords or by reinforcing the main keyword with a variation
THE SUB -HEADLINE
See sub-headline! Once again, you are advancing the reader. You still need to stay in power writing mode. Don’t figure the reader is already fully engaged. Hit them with one more reason to stay. Connect to them with industry jargon, drop a name, create a time squeeze, or promise a benefit.
Another time-honored opening sentence – the Who, What, When, Where, How. This is primarily useful for events. Many PR experts still believe this is the best opener for an event message. Give the reader the stuff they need right away. Even if they are not interested in the details, they now have what you want them to have.
A very common opener today is the emotionally charged beginning of a story. “After the death, Sam and Lisa faced up to three horrific decisions.”
THE FIRST LINE
OF THE BODY
All good writing has an audience in mind. PR has at least three audiences.
THE EDITOR – If you are hoping to get the wide distribution of your news, then you need to write your press release for the editor. They generally want shorts, and you will have to totally follow the rules above regarding interest.
GOOGLE – The body of your release also needs to be written for Google. They want original, well-written, and unique content.
THE AUDIENCE – Oh yeah, them. LOL. So now it is time to make sure you have satisfied the audience. Did you fully answer the headline's promise or question? Did you give them the information and links they need to act? Did you provide a call to action? The CTA should sometimes be disguised, as editors don’t like articles that are too salesy.
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