If you want to get the correct brand message across to journalists, you've got to learn to think like one. Lysbeth Fox has the scoop
Good public relations really comes down to one thing and one thing only: effective communication. You are building a relationship with the press in a way that turns your own brand message into a news asset for the writer.
The focus should always be on how to get your message across in a way that the journalist will feel compelled to report on. It's not about taking journalists out to expensive dinners or schmoozing at cocktail parties, which is what typically comes to mind when thinking of the role of the PR.
It begins with understanding your own brand and, if you are using an agency, ensuring they listen to you as the client to gain an insight into your goals, both short- and longterm, and a better conception of the product you are offering.
Try to identify the stand-out selling point of what you are offering, but ensure you don't brush over something that would also make a great story and is a feature of your offer. Pull out the parts that are attention-worthy; in essence, find the story.
The second part is equally vital: targeting your audience. A common mistake is to believe your audience are journalists, whereas in reality, the audience is, always and forever, the consumer - and the consumer always wins. The journalist is thinking of one thing only: what the consumer is interested in. If you can tailor your approach with that at the forefront of your mind, you will find you are one step ahead of the competition - and far more likely to get the news coverage you are aiming for.
Lysbeth Fox is the owner of Fox PR and business partner at the Buell Group www.buellconsult.co.uk
How to get the right coverage at the right time
1. The press release is dead Send the relevant information via email to the journalist you are targeting. Your tone should be casual, but ensure your message gets straight to the point.
2 Know your audience Don't pitch something that would suit a Sun reader to the Daily Telegraph.
3 Know your demographic Change your message to suit the journalist's audience.
4 Don't send attachments if you expect them to be read In-demand journalists and editors can get more than 2,000 emails a day. Put all the relevant information in a few sentences in a compelling way that will leave them wanting more. You can follow up with high-res images when you are asked for more information.
5 The freelancer is your best friend While staff journalists can pitch to one editor, the freelancer might pitch to seven or eight. You get far more bang for your buck with the journalist who works in several places at the same time.
6 Understand that the future is online Although there remains a prejudice for print, numbers show that the vast majority of consumers are reading their news
online. A print publication like Hello! has a readership of 250,000 a week, but being in the Mail Online's Femail section will get your brand seen by 10 times that amount - minimum. It is important to be aware of where you can get the most value when promoting your business.