Effective PR and Customer Communications – Tools and Techniques
The Press Release is an extremely effective way of informing both the media and your customers of a new development within your company. Information that appears in the press about your company has been compiled by a third party, and is likely to influence the reader more than an advert. It is the press’s business to stay on top of new and interesting products that will interest their readers, viewers and listeners. However….you need to think like a reporter when creating your press release. http://www.publicityinsider.com provides some important advice;
- Journalists don't care about helping you.
- Journalists are hassled all day by PR people and they're pretty much sick of it.
- Journalists don't care about your website, your book, your products or your life story,
unless... you are providing something that helps make their job easier - that is, a really good story. In that case...
- Journalists love you.
- Journalists are happy to take your phone call.
- Journalists are fascinated by your website, your products and maybe even your life story.
Here are a few points to consider when writing press releases:
What is my story? Examples could include:
- New Product Launch
- New Branding/ Packaging
- Award Won
- Attending a major event e.g. BBC Good Food Show/ Speciality Fine Food Show
- Major New Customer
- Business Expansion
- Exciting piece of press e.g. voted best new food product of 2009 in xyz magazine
- Record Sales
- New member of staff
- Competition e.g. Free Product/ Weekend Holiday Break for 2
- Sponsorship Deal
Who am I sending it to?
When sending to the media, ensure you have a named contact or department e.g. Joe Bloggs, Food & Drink Editor. Consider the following types of media:
- Consumer Press (Local and National Newspapers, Glossy Magazines etc)
- Trade Press
- Radio Stations
- Television Networks
- Consumer & trade Web-sites
When sending PR material to your customers, ensure it’s addressed to the relevant buyer or manager. Ensure your database is up to date.
What layout should I use?
The recommended layout for a press release is:
- Company Logo
- Title – Headline- Most important bit of the press release! Catchy, concise and bold!
- Insert “For immediate release” in the top right hand corner
- Contact Details of Sender (Name, Telephone, Mobile, Email and Website)
- Elaborate on the title in one sentence.
- Leading Paragraph
- Key Storyline.
- Why does the journalist need to know?
- How it will help the company?
- Main Paragraph(s)
- State the facts
- Final Paragraph
- Summarise with another quote and reinforce the key storyline with another quote.
- Full contact details
- Include a closing sentence such as “For more information and/ or photography, please contact Joe Bloggs Tel: 01990 909090 Email: Jb@joebloggs.co.uk Web: www.joebloggs.co.uk
How should I send my press release?
If posting your press release – send the following:
- Press Release (hard copy)
- A disk containing high resolution images of your products/ factory. (If the journalist chooses to run the story, they might send a photographer to your premises, or request samples of your product for photographing). Also save the press release as a word document on the disk. This enables the journalist to cut and past sections from the text.
- You might choose to send a sample of your product. A well, creatively packaged product creates an immediate point of interest and gives the journalist/ editor a feel for your product immediately.
If emailing, ensure that:
- Your press release is sent in an easily recognisable/ downloadable format e.g. Microsoft Word document.
- If you send images, ensure that they are of good, high resolution quality. However – try not to send images over 1mb in size (unless specifically requested) – they can take time to download and clog up computer systems!
- Ensure that you include the Press Release Title and Key Headline in the email, along with your key contact details.
Journalists/ editors/ reporters need to capture the imagination of their audiences. Think like a journalist and create a good, catchy story. Make them interested in you!
Ensure you have an up-to-date database/ mailing list
The title & quotes need to grab attention
Ensure all relevant contact details are included in the release
Send good quality images with the press release.
Press Cuttings – Collecting your valuable Press Exposure
It’s extremely important to gather Press Coverage as it enables you to building up a strong, professional image of the company. The fact that a consumer or trade publication has taken the time to write about your product means that your product is worth the effort!
Make the most of your coverage by:
- Including it on your website and in newsletters under a dedicated ‘Press Section’
- Include it in sales presentations
- Create a booklet of all your coverage and posters of your best bits of coverage e.g. in national newspapers/ national glossy consumer magazines and take it with you to exhibitions, events and sales presentations
- Have a copy of the coverage booklet available in reception at your premises – guests can get a feel for your professionalism before as they wait for their meeting!
- To gather every bit of coverage you receive, you could use a ‘Cuttings/ Press Company’ to monitor the press and collect items relating specifically to you – they send you a copy of the press coverage you have gained within a few days of it appearing. They charge around £1.00 per item of coverage gained.
- Your website is a window on the company. The web-site should reflect your company style and be easy to navigate. It should provide the following essential information:
- Company Background and/or story
- Company Product Range (with images) & Availability/ Delivery information
- Company Contacts (Names, Telephone, Fax and Email)
Customer Enquiry and comment facility
Along with other informative features such as:
- News Sections/ Up-Dates
- Events – a list of events you will be attending over the next 12 months, dates and locations (with an email address to contact if a potential or current customer wants to set up a meeting at the event).
- Press & Quotes Section – Inform visitors to the site of how famous you are, and include quotes from current stockists.
- Customer section – you could list some key customers e.g. Deli, Sandwich Shop, Wholesaler, Supermarket – to give potential customers a flavour of who buys your products.
- Downloadable e-cards/ wallpapers
Newsletters are an effective way of communicating your latest successes and stories quickly to a current or potential customer. It shows that you want to share information with them, and reflects what they have bought, or are buying into.
The Newsletter is a useful document to give to prospective new customers – either from an initial enquiry over the phone or at a Trade Show.
Topics to cover in the newsletter could include:
- New Product Developments
- New Brand Image
- Success at an exhibition
- A list of events the company will be attending over the next 12 months
- Staff up-dates/ new additions
- Case studies of new customers/ Examples of new stockists
- Sponsorship Activities
- Customer Promotions – e.g. advertise a Christmas promotion in the summer/ autumn newsletter.
Involving your customers in your newsletter makes them feel important and valued e.g. create case studies on different types of customers e.g. a Deli, a Farm Shop, a Supermarket. This gives potential new customers a flavour of your capabilities and professionalism!
Ensure that the newsletter is filled with eye-catching imagery e.g. photography from an exhibition, a photograph of a new stockist, photography from an award ceremony, photographs from the factory or surrounding countryside! Ensure that the imagery is of a good quality. Designers and/or graphics people will ask for ‘High Resolution’ images – i.e. 300 dpi (dots per inch) resolution. If you are scanning images/ press cuttings to include in a newsletter/ promotional leaflet, ensure you scan at 300dpi or more. This will ensure that you get crisp, clear images in your promotional literature.
Sending a copy of the newsletter to each of your customers creates a professional, enthusiastic image, and informs them in a concise format of your successes!
Professionally shot photography- both lifestyle images and product shots- are worth their weight in gold. Magazines and websites are unlikely to publish a press release / information without an attractive image.