PR PRIMER Base Coat for Public Relations Campaigns

Can’t you just smell fresh paint when you look at this picture? Today is March 1 and spring is in the air. If you like to paint, like I do, you know that a primer sets the base coat, especially when you’re using dark and rich colors. Here’s a public relations primer that shows you how to generate more attention in the media and online using the power of free publicity. You’ll learn the six essential elements that go into every successful public relations campaign.

Public relations is an integral component of every marketing effort, from the smallest interaction to the biggest splash of the year. When you get how you relate to your internal and external communities, then you have more control and impact on your results.

What is a primer? Let’s set the stage with these definitions from . . .

1. An elementary textbook for teaching children to read.
2. A book that covers the basic elements of a subject.
[Middle English, devotional manual, from Norman French, from Medieval Latin pr?m?rium, from neuter of pr?m?rius, first, from Latin, from pr?mus. See prime.]

prim·er2 n.
1. A cap or tube containing a small amount of explosive used to detonate the main explosive charge of a firearm or mine.
2. An undercoat of paint or size applied to prepare a surface, as for painting.
3. Genetics. A segment of DNA or RNA that is complementary to a given DNA sequence and that is needed to initiate replication by DNA polymerase.

Which definition do you like?

I like number one under definition two, but all of them apply and support the need for a public relations primer for your business or organization. Here’s how I define the acronym P-R-I-M-E-R.







Become a Publisher

Before you write word one, make a decision to commit to being a publisher. You can curate what happens in your day-to-day operations, in your industry, community and the world-at-large. Your goal is develop a presence as a commentator whose expert opinion is sought after by journalists, browsers and even spiders.

Report on Events

Position yourself as a reporter that covers all the breaking news, feature stories and product updates for your niche. Think of your audience as a friend in the business who needs to know what’s happening on an as-it-happens basis. But, wait a minute, you ask am I going to be the reporter who writes the story? In some cases – such as bylined articles, blog posts and web releases – you, or your publicist, will be the writer.

Inform Relevant Audiences in Relevant Ways

Remember who you’re writing to before you craft your first release or blog post. Who needs this information? Why do they need to know now? What will they do with it? Does Audience A need a different twist than Audiences B, C and D? Sure they do. Refining your approach to fit different audiences expands your reach in relevant ways. One size and one story does not fit all.

Mediatize Your Message for Each Channel

Just as stories can be positioned by audiences, so can delivery methods for each channel. You select your channels based on where you want your story to appear. For local papers, industry magazines and association newsletter, introduce yourself to the editor and ask how they prefer to receive news, what they like to write about and how you can help them cover their beat. Follow up with a quick email or note to recap your conversation and direct them to your site. Also tell them how to read your blog or sign up for your ezine. While you can’t call a search engine, you can use distribution sources like PR Web to optimize your release for you before it goes out. Measure traffic and consider types of comments to gauge interest in posts and social media updates.

Learn from Your Experience

Set up a database of your contacts, their response and the publish date for journalist contact. If your story appears in the local paper, check to see if it’s also online. You can set up a Google Alert to let you know whenever your name or product appears in Google’s listings. PR Web’s reports keep you updated with all kinds of statistics, including search terms used to find your release and the number of times your press release gets read. Check Google News and Yahoo! News the day your online release goes out to see your ranking.

Repeat Over and Over and Over Again

Most public relations agencies recommend publishing news frequently. Sending out a release at least once a month is a baseline guide, but some of the best results come from publishing news every week. Over time, you grow to own your market and you become positioned as the expert.

From the archives, this post was originally published on March 15, 2007.

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