Public Relations

Traditionally, marketing and public relations existed in distinct and separate worlds. Times have changed thanks to the evolution of the digital world. They are now so interlinked that a 360-degree approach is essential to worthwhile PR success.

We often get asked if we can help people get their businesses valuable press attention. It isn’t as simple as just e-mailing a press release to a journalist and asking them to talk about it though.

Our background includes working in journalism – in particular, some of the big publications such as Vogue, Red Magazine and Elle Magazine. We know what journalists are looking for. We’re therefore very well equipped to help you, but it may require doing more work than you initially realise. As we often say, it comes down to the business overall, so needs looking at from a 360-degree perspective. As Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

On this page we have written down some of our essential top tips for creating a successful PR strategy or PR campaign… get in touch with us for a bespoke plan for your business…

76%

of journalists say they feel pressure to think about their story’s potential for sharing on social media platforms - Bento Box Media

Public-relations specialists make flower arrangements of the facts, placing them so the wilted and less attractive petals are hidden by sturdy blooms.

Alan Harrington

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How to build an effective PR strategy...

Branding & Imagery

Typically journalists will want to see great branding that will look good on the page. This should feel different to what’s already out there and be eye-catching. Imagery is also vital – you’ll be asked for high-res images and if you don’t have these, it’ll be hugely prohibitive.

Journalists don’t have time to wait for you to conduct a photo shoot either, so these should all be done ahead of time before seeking press.

If you have a product, it’s best to get cut-out shots, images on a white background, as well as some in situ. If you have a food product, shooting it with recipes and so forth can be beneficial.

If you’re an influencer or expert, good head shots are vital. It needs to be done in a professional setting. A Facebook profile picture won’t be good enough. If you have a good variety, this will be ideal as journalists may need more than one image. The more beautiful the backdrop, the better – using a location house may be a good idea if relevant.

“PR means telling the truth and working ethically – even when all the media want is headlines and all the public wants is scapegoats. Public relations fails when there is no integrity.” – Viv Segal of Sefin Marketing

Context

Your product or story needs to fit into a wider context, such as a new trend or a story the writer is working on. This isn’t always something that can be predicted, but knowing their general area of interest can always help in pitching to the right people. It saves spending time reaching journalists who likely won’t ever feature you.

Journalists like to get organised early, even for online. Don’t leave it too late if you want to be featured.

Think about big events coming up – for example, Valentine’s or Christmas. Can your product be pitched as a gift? You may need to package it up slightly differently – e.g. creating a box of items. Just remember to pitch well ahead of time. Print publications have a 3-month lead time. Journalists like to get organised early, even for online. Don’t leave it too late if you want to be featured.

Following & Stockists

Journalists also want to see that the brand has some kind of following or positive reputation behind it. If everyone is complaining about the product or person, it doesn’t look good on the writer. They want to be seen as representing the best of the best – and therefore, competition is high to stand out.

Make sure your website and social media are both easy to use, quick to find, visually beautiful and on-brand. It’ll make a huge difference. First impressions really do count.

Likewise, ensure you have at least one point of sale that can be mentioned. If a journalist features a product with no stockists, it isn’t helpful to the audience they’re writing for and also reflects badly on their credibility.

They will want their reader to be able to buy your product. Getting listed on Amazon or building a shopping cart into your website can be hugely valuable if you aren’t in any stores. While it can be good to be stocked by some of the big names, it isn’t essential to getting good press.

Effective pitching

You will need to get the journalist’s attention in a creative way. They are hugely busy and bombarded with products. Everyone wants them for the same reason. They receive endless e-mails, samples and press releases.

Make sure you find the details for the right person and get their most direct form of communication. E-mail is usually best. Phone calls can be disruptive and in our modern world, not a lot of people like being rung. E-mail also means they can read through everything in their own time and have an easy-access record of all the information.

Having an interesting or unique back-story helps. What makes you unique? Why should journalists be featuring you over anyone else?

Pestering never works – if anything, it can have the opposite effect. Whether you’re looking to reach press or buyers, being innovative is important. Having an interesting or unique back-story also helps. What makes you unique? Why should they be featuring you over anyone else?

Try and get to know the journalist (social media helps!) and what’s going on in their wider sphere. Can you connect a product to their life? Maybe they’re pregnant and what you sell could be used with a newborn? In which case, send them a new baby gift box featuring your product. Perhaps they like to go running – in which case, create a marathon prep kit.

You get the idea… people like products and ideas that are useful and that stand out for making their life just that little bit easier. It also increases your chances of being featured on their social media if nothing else. Just make sure they’re able to easily see what your social handle is to use in their post.

“Journalists receive, on average, 50-100 press releases every week” – Cision

Press release

When it comes to press releases, no one reads them all. Sadly. Journalists will skim read and then pick out the most valuable details. You need to ensure you have included all the key elements. If you can save them time having to e-mail you for missing details, they’ll be very happy. Include prices, stockists, ingredients, USPs, and a short biography about you or the founder too.

When it comes to press releases, no one reads them all. Sadly. Journalists will skim read and then pick out the most valuable details.

When writing your press release and pitching your brand, sending suggestions for how it could work in a story may help to peak a writer’s interest. It could be just the idea they’ve been looking for. If you have any statistics or research to support your work, this can also add validity to your claims. It’s also good to have quotes from credible places that can be used as part of a story.

Relationships

Relationships are helpful when it comes to press, but in our opinion, they’re quite overrated. People put a lot of emphasis on working with people just because they “know” journalists. A lot of it is smoke and mirrors. Although familiar names do stand out in my inbox, I’d take it with a very generous pinch of salt when PR companies tell you about their little black book of contacts.

Yes, they might have an e-mail for the right person that they frequently contact with new launches or stories. In some cases, it might be someone they have met and get on with. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll get featured. It doesn’t matter how much you like someone, if the story or product doesn’t fit, it’ll get side-lined. I’ve featured products and services previously from people I’ve never spoken to before, simply because it looked good or suited a story. I’ve also chosen to feature products or services who have never contacted me before – in which case I have reached out to them.

If I know a PR then this helps if I’m looking for inspiration or ideas as I’ll be able to contact them to ask for who they’re working with. It also makes it easier if I want to find out information about a brand I know they’re working with. However, it isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. Most journalists don’t have time to meet PRs or attend events so will usually prefer to conduct everything via e-mail.

Samples

When pitching to journalists, expect to need to send a sample or let them try your service out. This shouldn’t cost them money so discount codes won’t really grab their interest. You need to make sure they get the genuine experience. If you send samples, a tiny amount in a non-branded packet will just be forgotten about.

If you send samples, a tiny amount in a non-branded packet will just be forgotten about.

Make your moment in their hands count. If they get your actual product, they may also share a photo of it on their social media too – exposure that can be just as valuable as a mention in a story. Put aside budget in your marketing and PR plan for samples or free services.

44%

of journalists prefer to receive press releases in the morning. 68% just want the facts - B2B PR Sense Blog

The top three measures used by PR pros to show social media success increased website traffic (64%), increased engagement (61%) and increased followers (59%).

Cision

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Timing

Don’t send products or e-mails to journalists if you know they’re away from their desk – social media makes it easy to see when people are on holiday or at big events (e.g. London Fashion Week). If you’re not sure, ring their office and just ask if they will be around to receive a delivery. If they aren’t in, chances are they’ll miss your product or it’ll end up on someone else’s desk. They’ll also no doubt return to a load of post and products on their desk and in their inbox, and will be less receptive to seeing you or your brand as unique.

Additionally, instead of sending constant e-mails – followed up with “Did you see my last e-mail?” when they don’t reply – try to only e-mail when you have something valuable to tell a writer. If they don’t reply, then rather than constantly chasing, simply wait until you have a new update or story idea and pitch again. This will be received far better and will keep you in their mind for new ideas.

On the topic of timing, make sure your product is ‘right’ before you send it to journalists. They shouldn’t be your product testers.

Likewise on the topic of timing, make sure your product is ‘right’ before you send it to journalists. They shouldn’t be your product testers. If your website doesn’t look good or your product isn’t tasting right, don’t waste your first impression by reaching out too early. It’ll be harder to get press when you do get it right because they’ll remember you for how it was before. If they don’t like it, you won’t get the press. Test everything out on friends, family and unsuspecting strangers first.

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