The 11 dos and don’ts of good PR

Public Relations is vital for a solid business strategy. Here are our expert dos, don’ts and PR tips to help build your reputation with journalists, and your audience…


Do – ask yourself ‘so what?’

What seems like a big deal to your business, may not be to a newsroom of journalists sifting through potential. To be effective, your press releases must be newsworthy. Credible newsrooms are competitive places and getting your story covered means saying ‘so what?’ about each potential news item.

Have you launched something unique or an ‘industry first’? Have you carried out new research into a hot topic within your market? If your news doesn’t pass your ‘so what’ test but it supports your brand, you can still use it for social media.


Do – keep it credible

Do you have research, or quotes/testimonials from third parties who can validate your news? Adding them in will make your story more credible for journalists and their audiences, and your customers, suppliers and employees.


Do – start at the top

If a journalist only read your headline, would they grasp your main message? If they read the headline and the first paragraph, would they get it? What about your third paragraph?

The best releases lead with the key message and adds a little more context with each paragraph or quote. It’s so that time-strapped journalists can decide if it’s newsworthy – and squeeze your entire story into a single paragraph if that’s all the space they have.

TOP TIP: Read your release out loud to yourself. If you stumble over words or sentences, readers will too, and it’ll put them off reading further.


Do – brush up your sales skills

The best PR takes time, so don’t hit send and hope for the best. Call your main PR contacts before you send them your news and work hard to sell in. Where you can, do this several days or a week in advance so they can plot the space in their e-newsletters. Timing can be everything, and if you’ve planned far enough ahead, you can send it to editors of periodical print publications, so the news is fresh when the magazines are printed.


Do – piggyback current affairs

If you have something relevant to your industry that you can add to a news story, let journalists know. If they don’t use your content, you can then just reshare they’re original story online and add your own commentary.

What’s more, if you approach PR planning in the same way as other social media or content planning, you already know what’s coming and you can send pre-prepared statements before a key industry event. Print publications work months ahead of print dates, so planning is vital if you want to get your expert views published.


Do – stay social

Credible journalists, bloggers and writers actively use social media to find and read newsworthy content. So, follow and connect with the right people online to help you understand them and their main interests. It’ll help you understand what stories they’re likely to use, and pitch or write your news in a way that’s more likely to get their attention.

TOP TIP: Keep your PR and social media teams talking. Your business will be more effective because your news will be posted onto your social channels, using the most relevant writer or media outlet’s account and hashtags.


Do – invest in your imagery

We wholeheartedly agree with Jessica Gonzalez from InCharged on the importance of imagery… read her top tip from a Forbes feature on ‘Refreshing Your Business’ Brand Across Platforms’. Having good quality imagery and video is great for your brand. What’s more, if you have a high quality, visually striking or unique image to accompany a news release, it gives you a better chance of getting more ‘space on a page’.


Don’t – send mixed messages

If you overload a press release with too many messages, your key point can easily be lost. The result will be a journalist who doesn’t publish it, or one who publishes something with little relevance to your intended story. The same can be said for interviews for print publications. So, take time to prepare for interviews and make sure your message is in your head like a mantra!


Don’t – use jargon, acronyms and complex examples

Communicate clearly and cleanly. If you’ve written a press release, or any website content, would your best friend understand it? If the answer is no, start again. We’ve heard people say that PR can ‘dumb down’ a message. That’s not the case if you ask a journalist – you’re an expert in your field, but reporters and editors are not – they’re experts in sharing relevant and understandable news that can be read and consumed by anyone.


Don’t – be late

If you can build a reputation for quickly answering journalist’s queries, and happily/regularly providing your views on your industry’s issue of the day, you’ll win their trust, and a spot in their contact list.

And if you can’t answer the question straight away, let them know when you can/will. This manages their expectations and helps them to get on with writing a news story, with the comfort that you’ll send them what they need.

But, let them down at your peril. If a writer is relying on you for vital information, they won’t forget it in a hurry. After all, nobody appreciates unnecessary stress when they’re working to a tight deadline.

TOP TIP: If you’re asked for one, stay ‘on topic’ in your comment. Shameless self-promotion for your business is far less likely to be used than helpful information and opinion.


Don’t – forget to keep it personal

No, we don’t mean talk about your bathroom habits (unless you’re in the business of bathrooms). If you make the effort to personalise your emails or news pitches, rather than blanket contact list, you’ll build better relationships and coverage.


If you want help to plan or execute an effective PR campaign for your business, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help.