PR is a powerful and effective way to raise awareness of your brand or products, to build loyalty and to drive sales. But with so many people fighting for so few column inches, how do you make sure your story makes it to the top of the page?
Here are 10 Tips for a winning PR campaign:
1. Be organised
Sounds obvious, I know, but really:
Do your research. Buy papers and magazines and read the online ones so you know exactly what they each cover - and just importantly what they don’t. Does your story fit?
Make a list of the editors and writers covering the most relevant sections - you can often find their contact details in the magazine or contact pages on their websites. You can always pick up the phone to the switchboard and ask who is the right person to contact.
Keep a record of all of the journalists, bloggers and writers you want to approach and a note of what you’ve sent them, when, and how they responded. This will help you next time you want to contact them.
2. Be timely
Build a PR plan or calendar including at all the news stories you have coming up ahead - for example, product launches, new distributors, new locations or events. What are the most important and interesting news stories how do you time it so you don't have three stories going out in the same month?
Remember that monthly magazines work to long lead times - often six months ahead. This means if you have a Christmas product you need to get the story out in June or July to be confident it will get picked up in the Christmas magazines.
Dailies and weeklies work to shorter lead times but don’t expect to send out a release one day and get coverage the next.
Think about the wider context - seasonal events and trends like healthy or dry January; big news stories (food & Brexit); or new research finding and link your story to those events.
3. Be yourself
Tell your brand story with confidence - what is special about your business or product and why should journalists listen. Imagine you've got just a few seconds to get your readers' interest - practice telling your story in words and writing until you are happy with it. Then, try it out on friends and family until you've got it down to a tee.
Think about the language you use or 'tone of voice'. How you write a press release, tweet, blog or speak to a journalist has got to be consistent with who you are and your brand values. Whether your brand is fun and playful or considered and corporate - make sure you have one voice across all your communications. There's no need to adopt a bland impersonal tone in your press release.
4. Be interesting
You have seconds to get a journalist’s attention, just as you do with a consumer browsing the shop shelves.
Journalists receive dozens of emails a day and many will go unread so make sure you get a compelling heading in the email subject line. Make your email personal, greet them with their name and tell them why you think your news story is relevant to them..
5. Be concise
A press release shouldn’t be more than a few paragraphs long and fit on one side of A4 (and this doesn’t mean size 8 font!). Make it easy to read with 1.5x or 2x line spacing. You can add more detailed notes on a second page. Don’t forget to include your contact details!
Include the key points of your story in the covering email: and don’t forget the what, where, why and when.
Copy the main content of the press release into the body of the email, don’t rely on your attachment getting opened.
6. Be visual
Photographs are crucial so make sure you have high-quality photographs to accompany your story. They need to be high resolution (minimum 2mb) to use in print or online. Think about what photographs are relevant - a product pack shot, a lifestyle shot or a team line up. Remember to label photographs clearly and state any credits or acknowledgement that needs to be given to the photographer.
Include one or two photographs in the press release and either attach a high-resolution image to the email or create a folder of a few images on Dropbox or Google Drive and share the link in your email.
7. Be relevant
A scattergun approach doesn't work. Think carefully before sending your news - is it relevant to that person or publication - what’s your hook, where does it fit in their publication.
Have several angles of your story up your sleeve - what’s relevant to a monthly consumer food magazine isn’t for a weekly grocery trade newspaper - tweak your story for different audiences.
8. Be factual
A press release is not a sales pitch and journalists will not respond well to over exaggerated claims and hyperbolic language. Write objectively (but not without personality see Number 3 above.)
Journalists like facts and data - is there research to back up your claims.
9. Be opinionated
You are an expert in what you do so share that knowledge to build credibility and authority with the media.
10. Be tenacious but not a pain in the a**e!
Silence doesn’t mean rejection - journalists are busy and often inundated. If you don’t receive a response it’s fine to follow up after a week or two, but don’t over do it - it’s a sure way to make sure your next story ends up in up in the junk folder!
I have years of experience of food and drink PR, so get in touch for advice or to find out how I can help you. Contact Polly Robinson food and drink PR >
Examples of successful PR campaigns I've worked on: