Word of Mouth Publicity

All of you would know that word of mouth is a very powerful public relations weapon. But not everyone realises that one of the best ways of generating it is through publicity. Publicity is getting free editorial coverage in newspapers or magazines or being talked about on radio or television.

It is very effective when it happens – they say publicity is seven times more effective than advertising.

What is Public Relations?

Public relations includes a variety of tactics that strengthen your credibility, enhance your image or influence public opinion. These tactics, such as speeches, special events, promotional activities, product launches and product give-aways; sponsorship, newsletters, annual reports, articles and media releases are targeted to an audience. PR involves communicating who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you make a difference.

The terms public relations and publicity are often misused. Publicity is only one function of public relations. It is media coverage – news stories, feature articles, radio talk show interviews, television appearances, editorials and reviews.

Publicity can be gained through effective media relations such as media releases or news conferences; press kits, press tours and personal letters or phone calls to editors and journalists.

PR for You

Most large businesses even those with substantial marketing and advertising budgets devote considerable resources to public relations because they realise it is one of the best and most cost-effective ways for them to attract customers and increase their business. Small businesses should look at the benefits of PR and positive media coverage because it can:

• Attract customers
• Increase demand for your products or services
• Gain an edge over your competitors
• Enhance your credibility and prestige
• Get your message across without the expense of advertising
• Create goodwill in your community

Free Publicity

Reading an article about a product or seeing a story on the news has a lot more credibility but there are no guarantees that your story will get a run.

One of the unique characteristics of publicity is that you have little control over whether your media release or news conference will be covered. Editors have complete control over a publicity item. They are the ones who decide if it will be used and they also have the editorial license to alter or use only part of it.

This is where an expert can help – one who understands how to make your media release stand out and be noticed and also someone who has good media contacts and strong working relationships with various journalists and editors. Free publicity is really misleading as it does cost money to employ an expert to promote your product or to pay a staff member or yourself (time is money) to handle what is involved.

The Five W’s

Here’s a few tips on how you can write your own media release and attract interest in your product or service:

• First and most important thing – have something interesting to say – consider the Unique Selling Point
• Write a catchy headline – short, punchy phrase
• Bright opening – strongest point first
• Content – the 5 W’s – What, When, Where, Who and Why
• Use memorable quotes
• Title it Media Release and always include the date
• Include contact details of telephone, mobile, email and website address
• Use letterhead and keep content to one page
• If emailing use strong subject heading and copy and paste release in body of email
• Send your release to the appropriate person – do your research
• Follow up – media liaison
• Suggest a photo or photo opportunity that will add to the impact of having your information publicised

Coordinated Approach

To ensure the success of your public relations campaign, PR objectives should be clearly defined and developed as part of the overall marketing strategy. The best results will be obtained through a coordinated approach to all your marketing, advertising and public relations activity. Your key messages, information and branding should be included on all your marketing and PR collateral.

Publicity is a very valuable tool but is often overlooked as a true means of creating interest in a product or service. Normally public relations is an afterthought to an overall marketing campaign and can represent only a small percentage of the overall budget but it can work very well and produce tremendous results.

Not all publicity will help to increase sales but it can generate public goodwill and promote corporate images, product awareness and help to build the overall company brand.