Getting PR for your business

Jun 15, 2012   //   by Helen   //   Blog  //  No Comments

It was a bullet point on a PowerPoint slide I didn’t realise would interest my audience so much:
“You do not have to pay for coverage if you have a good, interesting story to tell.”

Copy Writing

A Guest Post by Elaine Larkin

The audience was a group of people in the tourism business. The talk was on how to write a press release for the How to Build a Strong Tourism Business programme delivered by Xcel Business Solutions for Wexford Local Development.
Having worked as a journalist and editor for a little over 10 years I’ve seen many a press release. I’ve ignored many and I’ve used many to write short news articles and long features. I often talk to businesses and tell them that I see something about their business that would make an interesting story. It’s called having “a nose for a story”.

The thing that I discovered talking to this group is that not everyone realises publications are divided into two halves: commercial and editorial.
Sometimes the two overlap; instead of just selling ad space, sales teams will sell advertorials, also known as commercial features and a host of other names. Journalists sometimes write this for businesses; sometimes businesses provide the text themselves.

But this usually only accounts for a small section of articles in a publication – which should always be clearly marked as advertising.
How the editorial side of a publication operates is through journalists and editors identifying newsworthy topics. It was this side of the house I was referring to when I stated: “You do not have to pay for coverage if you have a good, interesting story to tell.”
One of the ways to get this ‘free’ coverage is to send in a press release to the appropriate editor and/or journalist in a publication or tv/radio show relevant to your target audience.
Of course, PR is not free. You can pay PR professionals to identify newsworthy stories about your business, to write press releases, to identify who to send them to and to follow up with extra information, arrange interviews, provide imagery.
If you choose to do it in your own time, your time is money, so there will always be some sort of cost associated with getting media coverage.
My top tips for writing press release include having a story/press release that is:

  • Newsworthy
  • Interesting
  • Timely
  • Relevant

It’s also important to know your target audience. Know your customers’ reading and media consumption habits – this will help you understand where you need to send your press releases to. It’s also useful to become familiar with relevant newspapers, magazines, or radio and tv shows. Many have regular sections that you or your business may fit into. It’s important to really think about your business’s stories and the stories of the humans involved in it. Once you become familiar with all the different sections that make up the media you’d be surprised as to where your story might fit in. Getting media exposure may be in a section of the media you hadn’t expected.
Some further tips on PR can be found in a blog post I wrote last year.

Have you had success in getting media coverage? What’s worked best for you? Let us know!

Elaine Larkin

has been published in all the Irish broadsheet newspapers. She started her career as a journalist in 1998, regularly contributing to The Irish Times until 2002. Elaine also worked as a journalist and editor for a publishing company, working on newspaper supplements published with the Irish Independent. Nowadays she uses her journalistic skills to plan, produce and manage written website content for clients of Web Content Partners.

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