Publicity ... How To Tickle The Media's Fancy
By Paul Quinn, © 2003
"Today's brands are born with publicity, not
advertising. A closer look at the history of many major
brands shows this to be true. In fact an astonishing number
of brands, including the Body Shop, Starbucks, Wal-Mart,
Beanie Babies, Oracle and Yahoo!, have been built with
virtually no advertising."
- Al Ries, 'The Fall of Advertising and the
Rise of PR'
A brand must have credibility to survive. One of the ways
you can develop brand credibility is to convey consistent
messages about your agency to your target audience. The
chosen tool many agencies use to try to achieve this is
advertising. However, advertising may not be the most effective
tool to use to build your profile. Renowned marketing theorists
Al and Laura Ries contend in their controversial new book
"The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR" that
public relations is more effective at building brands than
advertising, and that advertising should be used more to
sustain brand momentum.
The power of PR lies in the fact that many people view
'news' as a more credible source of information than advertising.
In addition to the credibility that public relations can
lend to your agency's brand, public relations activities
generally cost less than advertising which automatically
makes it more accessible to small and medium size agencies
that do not have large advertising budgets. So why then,
if news carries more weight than advertising and costs less
to execute, aren't we spending more time on public relations
activities? The answer is simply that not many people know
how to go about it.
Follow the seven-step methodology below to help your agency
gain media coverage:
Step 1: Identify A Niche
Whether you are a small, medium or large recruitment agency,
public relations activities should definitely have a place
in your marketing mix. A good place to start is to identify
an area in which you can become the "expert" or
voice for the industry. Choose an area that aligns with
your core business. For example, if you recruit legal people
then focus on newsworthy stories that emphasise your knowledge
in the legal industry. If you are a generalist recruiter
consider whether there is an area in which you could become
a spokesperson; perhaps you've observed a particular trend
within the temp area of your business and you think your
target audience may want to know about it.
Step 2: Set Objectives
Set clear objectives about what you hope to achieve from
your publicity. Objectives should include a statement about
how you wish your organisation to be positioned, the level
of understanding of certain aspects of your agency that
you wish to promote, etc. For example, if the niche you
have selected is hospitality staff then your positioning
objective could be worded to the effect of "to become
the recognised spokesperson for recruiting hospitality staff
within NSW". It is important to set these objectives
because it helps you to remain focused on how you want your
agency to be positioned.
Step 3: Identify Your Audience
Next, consider which media sources reach your target audience.
Remember that while it is nice if other people hear about
your agency, your ultimate goal should be to reach the specific
audience you sell to through appropriate media channels.
Step 4: What To Say
Once you have a list of the different media that regularly
communicate with your target audience read through the different
magazines, newspapers, etc, to see the types of stories
that each media channel carries. It is also a good idea
to make a note of the journalist that covers your area of
expertise - you may even like to contact them and make yourself
available for future comments about industry developments.
Not only will this research give you some great ideas about
the types of stories you can offer each publication, it
will also help you make your material more relevant and
increase the chances of your media release being accepted.
Below are some ideas for angles you could use to promote
Do a customer
survey and include controversial questions. Write articles
about the results of the survey. The media is very receptive
to survey results.
Create a top
ten list about something in your business. For example
"The Ten Most Popular IT Roles for 2003."
annual award that you give out to someone in the community
or a business in your industry.
or attention-grabbing facts about your industry or business.
For instance, write an article titled, "The average
starting salary of an MBA graduate is 40 percent higher
than their non-MBA peers."
Tie your business
in with holidays or special days. For example, tell the
media how your recruitment agency helps candidates find
new jobs during the Christmas season.
Be first. Be
the first to offer a 200 percent double your money back
guarantee. Think of something at which you can claim to
be the first.
Host a "Kids
are the Boss Day!" Hand your business over to your
employee's teenagers for the day to help them gain work
Run a "silliest
thing" or "Costly mistakes" contest with
your clients. For instance, compile a list of the silliest
questions your clients have ever been asked by a candidate
during an interview and mix this with useful tips on how
employers can keep an interview on track.
Sponsor a local
community service project. Perhaps recruit volunteers
to work for a worthy cause.
Prove a myth
or stereotype in your industry wrong. For instance, unveil
research to prove that changing your job every 18 months
can actually be good for your career.
Step 5: Develop a media plan
Public relations is not just about answering media calls,
it is about pro-actively sending out regular media releases
on topical issues and keeping in touch with the relevant
media contacts. It is working to achieve media coverage
throughout the year so that your agency's brand becomes
stronger and stronger. The best way to do this is to develop
a media plan that details the timing of your media releases
and to whom they should be sent. Planning ahead also allows
you to accommodate the different deadlines of each publication.
Once you have your plan in place you are ready to begin
to work with the media.
Step 6: Reach out to the media
Write your media release and before you send it to the
appropriate people check that it addresses the following
Is it relevant?
Check that you have targeted the people who are in the
best position to understand and benefit from the information
you are distributing.
Is it timely?
Different media and messages will have different timelines
- consider these when you are developing your plan.
Is it unusual
and/or newsworthy? Find the aspect of your story that
makes it interesting and unique.
Does it hit
home? The most interesting stories are the ones that hit
home either personally or geographically.
Does it have
a human face? The people factor always makes a story or
photo more compelling.
Step 7: Measure the results
Companies like media monitors provide a service to track all media
coverage you receive. Alternatively you can watch the media
yourself to see if the story appears.
In short, cultivating a relationship with the media that
target your audience is well worth the time spent doing
so. Using the steps above, your agency stands to gain more
credibility and exposure without it costing you the earth.
So, why not take some time to sharpen your pencil and see
what you can come up with to tickle the media's fancy?
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