Four Common PR Misconceptions

There are many misconceptions surrounding PR and it is still a very misunderstood part of running a successful business. When you are creating your own PR you do not want to be led astray by any myths, which is why we have “de-bunked” the most common myths below…

PR is advertising.

Advertising is visibility that has been paid for, whereas PR is visibility that has been earned. There is however a larger difference between PR and advertising; and that is how the content is perceived by consumers. Consumers’ trust is hard to come by and the hard-sell found in most advertisements is likely to be off-putting, whereas the content produced by PR is subtle, credible and inviting. Think less sales and more suggestions.

PR is only needed for one-off announcements or launches.

It is commonly quoted that consumers need to interact with your business seven times before they spend money with you. This is because often consumers need to feel that they know, trust and believe in your brand before they will convert into a purchaser. To achieve such interactions a one-off hit will not be enough, it takes a long time to build a reputation and continued positive press is an effective way to do so.

All press is good press.

Remember the BP oil spill? After this horrific event, the company had to spend millions on rebuilding their reputation. Hopefully negative publicity on that scale will never impact your business, however we cannot control every individual way we are represented in the press. A bad customer review, unhappy critic or disgruntled ex-employee for example is likely to be out of our control, however immediately addressing bad press and being honest about the situation are effective ways to respond. Do not however stop your PR efforts or let this hold you back from continuing to market your product.

Press releases are statements of fact.

So you have launched a new product, service or event; time to send out your press release? A common mistake to make when writing a press release is to state facts, rather than create a story that is newsworthy.  Often personality and context is also easily forgotten, you can use our press release templates to help with your next PR efforts!

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Tips For Writing a Business Blog

Many business websites have an unused or unloved and infrequently updated blog. It is often the last thing on your mind when you are working on your PR but it can be a great way to improve your site’s search engine optimisation (SEO) and point more consumers in your direction. It also adds personality to your business and can distinguish your company from your competitors, while showcasing your expertise in your chosen field.

It can be time-consuming to run a blog but with our top tips you should be able to enjoy the process and reap the benefits for your business.

 

Try to establish a niche topic.

If you are too generic, you will fade into the abyss that is the world wide web and your content may not be memorable or different to that of your competitors. Find an angle that is suitable for your business and your level of expertise but only write about topics about which you are confident in!

Write content that will stand the test of time.

It takes a lot of effort to write blog posts and if you are writing content that will only be relevant for a short amount of time, you can see how this activity would not survive a cost:benefit analysis. Try to write posts that you can envisage being applicable for many years to come, this means you and your readers will be able to re-share your article many times, which will continue to attract new readers, and therefore new clients to your website.

Re-share.

Once you have written a post for your blog, do not think of it as a one-off activity. You need to continue to re-share your post because this will help attract the most amount of readers. Sharing across your social media networks and email subscribers list is a fantastic way to spread the word about your business but remember to distribute your content more than once! Don’t just share it once, keep sharing it: just because a link is sent out on your social media, does not mean that every one of your followers has seen it, nor were they all in a position to read the article or feel that the topic was relevant at that particular moment. This is why it is so important to re-share your posts as much as possible and make all of your typing worthwhile. Do just make sure the information included in the post is still correct.

Make blogging a habit.

If you set aside a certain amount of time every week or month to write a blog post, you will start producing regular content for your readers. The most successful blogs are creating content consistently and this will also help consumers easily find your content via social media and search engines. Also the more you blog, the easier you will find it to write. It is true that once you get into the flow of writing it is hard to stop and if you are writing regularly the dreaded writer’s block will find it harder to take hold.

Blogs can contain more than writing.

If writing is not your forte, good news you can still create a blog! If you’re fearful of being able to type 1,000 words; picture led galleries, vlogs and podcasts can be another way to share your valued knowledge and opinions. Certain social media channels often value video content over written content and podcasts have seen a huge boost in the last five years. Do not give up on having a business blog if you don’t see yourself as a writer, there are plenty of other mediums out there where you can let out your creative side, promote your business and help potential customers find you.

 

Good luck with your business blog and remember to let us know below where we can find your new content!

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PR Jargon Glossary

At PR Toolkit we want to give you the tools you need to be able to promote your business. We understand however that this can be daunting, especially if you are unsure of the terminology being used. What is the difference between circulation, readership and reach? And what about conversion rates, click-through rates, CPM and ROIs? To make your life easier we have created a glossary below of the most common words and phrases that you may come across when creating your own PR.

  • Brief – The outline of what needs to be done on a project. 
  • Broadcast Media – Communication outlets that utilize air space, namely television and radio. 
  • B2B – (Business to Business) Public relations marketing communication dedicated to providing information resources between businesses. Includes professional services, training, human resources and office supplies.
  • B2C – (Business to Consumer) Similar to B2B, but between businesses and the consumer.
  • Circulation – In the media industry, circulation typically refers to the number of copies a print publication sells or distributes.
  • Click-Through Rate – The percentage of consumers receiving an e-mail who will click on an embedded URL in the message to reach a specific landing page.
  • Content – The design, text, and graphical information that forms a webpage.
  • Content Marketing – A process that uses intellectual property to build trust between an organisation and its constituents.
  • Conversion Rate – The calculation of the number of viewers that become customers.
  • Copy – Written material for printing, the text of an advertisement, a press release or an article that is being written (before it has been published).
  • Copywriting – the production of text for publications, advertising, marketing materials, websites etc. Most companies employ skilled specialists with a direct and succinct writing style.
  • Cost Per Thousand (CPM) – This is an industry standard which represents the cost per 1000 people reached during the course of an advertising campaign. The CPM model refers to advertising purchased on the basis of impression opposed to pay-for-performance options (price per click, registration). (Note: “M” represents thousand in Roman numerology).
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – a system that manages a company’s interactions with existing and potential customers.
  • Demographics – Selected characteristics of a population, such as ethnicity, income, and education that define a particular consumer population.
  • Media Kit/Press Kit – a set of promotional and informative materials about an organisation or event. It includes company information, specifically a letter of introduction, press releases, news articles, and a company profile.
  • Pitch – A concise verbal (and sometimes visual) presentation of an idea, in this instance a pitch is generally made to a media outlet in the hope of attracting positive coverage for a client. 
  • Press Release – A concise written statement making an announcement or describing an event/item, which is considered to be of sufficient interest to readers/viewers/listeners 
  • Print Media – A medium consisting of paper and ink, including newspapers, magazines, classifieds, circulars, journals, yellow pages, billboards, posters, brochures, and catalogues.
  • Public Relations – the management of communications between an organization and its key public to build, manage, and sustain its positive image. It is any activity used to influence media outlets to print stories that promote a favourable image of a company and its products or services.
  • Reach – Reach refers to the estimated number of individuals or households exposed to an advertising message during a specified period of time. It can be given as either a percentage or number of individuals.
  • Readership – the total number of primary and pass-along readers of a publication.
  • ROI – Return on Investment (ROI) seeks to find the actual or perceived future value of a marketing campaign. It is calculated as the ratio of the amount gained or lost, relative to the initial investment.
  • Target Market/Avatar– The audience(s) the organisation has chosen to whom to communicate its key messages.

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The “Dos” and “Don’ts” of Marketing to Millennials

Often stereotyped as bearded, social-media obsessed, avocado-eaters; millennials in fact make up the largest proportion of our workforce and therefore have huge buying power in today’s market. The exact definition of a millennial is anyone born between 1981-1996, (aged 23 to 37). For many businesses these consumers would make up a large percentage of their ideal client. However, many companies struggle to market to this audience because their buying habits are very different to the generations that came before them.

Below we have created a few ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ when it comes to marketing to millennials to help you access such an important generation.

DO NOT hard sell.
DO create a trustworthy brand.
Millennials do not like to be sold to but they do like to buy. So how do you entice them to your business? The best way to encourage millennials to spend money with you is to prove that you are a trustworthy brand. Millennials rely heavily on peer-reviews when assessing which brands to spend money with. Business owner’s should be focusing on encouraging user generated content wherever possible. For example you could reward customers who share photos of their purchases or visits to your business as this creates reviews and images that you can use across your own sites as proof that you are indeed “a trustworthy brand”. Collaborations with trusted influencers and micro-influencers are another effective way brands convertmillennials into purchasers.

DO use social media.
DO NOT obsess over the latest platforms and technology
It is common knowledge that millennials are tech-savvy but unlike Generation Z, they are not as interested in the newest and most advanced platforms. Even though snapchat is seen as “the place to be” by most youngsters, millennials are likely to spend more time on Instagram and Facebook. They also still use laptops and desktops to surf the web, alongside their smartphones, therefore it is important that your sites are compatible for both.

DO create video content.
DO NOT forget to add to subtitles, use the “live” channels and evoke emotion.
A well known fact is that most millennials now watch more video content online than on their TV and this is only going to get more popular. In fact, it is believed that by 2020, 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be from online videos (Cisco). Another thought to consider is that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound, so it is worth including subtitles on your videos. Facebook and Instagram live videos are heavily encouraged by the platforms and use of the “live” button on each of the channels can positively impact your reach. Lastly consider the subject of your videos;those that evoke emotion in the viewer are much more effective than purely informative videos.

DO have a great online presence
DO NOT forget to check what appears when your brand is searched online.
Millennials are also known as the “research generation” and because they are used to having a huge amount of knowledge at their fingertips, it is likely they will research your brand well before making a purchase with you. This is why it is important to ensure your brand is broadly represented online, having a great PR company who can help you appear positively and regularly throughout online and offline publications is a huge help. Also check you are appearing on the first page of google and that all information displayed is correct (opening hours, contact information, pricing etc.). Ask for outdated information to be removed and check that you have responded to all reviews (good and bad) left on sites such as google reviews or tripadvisor, to be sure that anyone reading them can see you care about the relationship with your customers.

DO think about your company’s values.
DO NOT pick a cause that you are not genuinely interested in.
Millennials are often very in tune with the latest social, economical and political issues. They want to buy from brands that support their beliefs and they have respect for companies that have an ethical conscience – think of the popularity of plastic-free, organic or plant-based products within this age group. They have spent their whole lives listening about global concerns and they want to buy from brands that are doing something about these issues. It is very clear however when a company has latched on to the latest buzz-word, rather than truly believing that they are able to support a worthwhile cause or problem. Therefore make sure whatever you decide to add as a company value is also important to you and isn’t purely seen as a marketing tactic by consumers.

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Ten Reasons to Shop Locally

Why Shop Local? How does it really affect you? The team at Produced in Kent are tell us why; providing an unrivalled guide on their website to independent businesses covering a wide range of products from local fresh produce to craft beers – and everything in between.

 

  1. Quality: Kent has some of the best food and drink in the UK and perhaps the world. There are some incredible quality products on your doorstep. Craft beer, wine,  cherries, berries, apples, juices, cheeses, ciders, spirits, meat, fruit and vegetables, we have the best in the country, why go anywhere else?
  2. Environmental: Shopping locally means your food has travelled a shorter distance, which means it will be fresher. Your food will have a shorter carbon footprint if it’s just come from around the corner.  Our farmers maintain the fields, orchards, woodlands and hedgerows that make the Kent landscape what it is.
  3. Feel Good Factor: Buying from your neighbour rather than the big wig conglomerate not only feels good but can offer you so much more. The benefits flow out through the supply chain and spread the benefit.
  4. Economy: Local businesses contribute to the local economy which in turn supports the upkeep and improvement of facilities in your area. Making it a nicer place for you to live too.
  5. Convenience: Local shops are on your doorstep. Kent has a butcher’s shop in nearly every large village, as well as an excellent array of convenience shops, bakeries, delis and cafes. Local delivery and box schemes
  6. Pass it On: Local Authorities research found that for every £1 spent with a local business 63p stayed in the local economy. For massive multinational organisations, this is simply not the case.
  7. Support: The more you support your local stores, the more they sell, the more they sell, the better choice they can offer.
  8. Customer Service: Local cheese? Help with how to cook your Sunday joint? Need a certain type of gluten-free bread? Want that thick cut marmalade? Talk to your local shop keeper, they have the time to talk and the flexibility and the knowledge to offer a personalised service unlike any supermarket or online retailer offering. For local shop owners, it’s not just business, it’s personal.
  9. Community : Being a part of your community, means supporting local business and initiatives. By supporting local stores there’s now a local boy who’s mum can afford his ballet lessons or a little girl who finally got new football boots for the first time. These are real family businesses full of real people. Value the businesses that support where you live.
  10. Economy: There are 875 food and drinks businesses in the county of Kent and they contribute 2.6bn, which is nearly ten percent of the UK’s 28.8bn food and drinks industry. This industry also supplies work for nearly 15% of the county’s work force. The food tourism economy in Kent is also growing with an 8% rise in visitors over the past two years. For Kent food tourism is central to the growth of the local economy and the success of the independent businesses of Kent.

“It has never been more important to make the most of what is on our doorstep,” says Stephanie Durling, Manager of Produced In Kent. “Kent Food Trails recently launched celebrating our growing food tourism industry;  it celebrates Kent’s incredible coastline and some of the best orchards, vineyards (we are the “Capital of English Wine” too), breweries, distilleries, dairies and farms in the UK!”

Produced in Kent is a trade organisation dedicated to supporting & promoting food, drink, products and services in Kent. It provides vital support to a diverse range of businesses which in turn provide valuable employment opportunities in Kent, at the economic heart of the community.

Find your nearest local retail outlet at www.producedinkent.co.uk (consumer) or join join.producedinkent.co.uk (trade) www.kentfoodtrails.co.uk (Kent food trails).

 

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How To Monitor Your PR

Monitoring coverage

Now you’ve started to generate some great PR opportunities for your business you will need to think about ‘media monitoring’.

What is media monitoring?

Quite simply you need to know where your business has been mentioned in the media, so you don’t miss coverage. Once you’ve put all this hard work into writing press releases and putting your news stories in front of the right media contacts, you will want to know which journalists have written about your business.

How can you make sure you don’t miss anything?

  1. Google Alerts

You can set up Google alerts to monitor what is being published online every day. You can request an alert to be sent to you ‘as it happens’, twice a day or a daily or weekly digest email.

  1. Media Monitoring

There are lots of different companies that offer media monitoring if you put that into Google.

  • Yellow News – Kantar Media. We use this one for Sharp Relations, they are fairly cost efficient, and tend to pick up the majority of print and online coverage.
  • Meltwater News – all online monitoring including social media and online.
  1. A Comprehensive Google Search

We think this is one of the best ways to find coverage on your business. The trick to use the ‘Tools’ button under the search bar, you can refine your search by;

  • Time – any time, past hour, past 24 hours, past week, past month, past year etc
  • Relevance to search terms
  • Country i.e. just UK or whole web

Putting your search terms into “speech marks” ensures that Google will only throw us results which are verbatim within those speech bubbles.

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What Makes A Good Press Release Image

Photography

It sounds obvious but what makes a good press release image depends entirely on the content of the press release. A new product release will be lost without a quality packshot of the product, a new store opening needs a picture of the shop frontage and a recipe will need an image of the dish.

Your image should summarise the content of your press release in a single shot. It is generally found that a press release with a good accompanying image will receive a much better response than one without. Online SEO rankings are actually improved by the existence of a relevant accompanying image. Writers are more likely to run a story that is complete with high quality available images.

Aesthetics:

Make sure your image is visually appealing this may mean that you need to get creative. If you story is about how a craft brewery has switched from bottles to cans then an image of the cans in production will be ok for trade publications, but the more consumer facing publications will prefer to see the final products with the managing director that has brought driven this decision.

Formatting:

For all print publications images need to be 300dpi as a minimum that’s (300x300pixels-px) anything smaller does not work well in print. The ideal format to send your image is a Jpeg but GIF and TIF is often accepted as well. For online publication images need to be minimum 72 dpi.

Edit your Images:

The best way is in an Adobe programme called Photoshop, where you can edit, crop, resize and check all the image values when saving.

Name your Images:

Don’t send over images named Picnic230417.jpeg as it doesn’t mean anything to the publication, save the file with the brand name included such as “TaittingerPicnic2017”.  Send a caption with each image identifying anyone in the image and crediting any photographer if required. Generally royalty free images are preferred.

How to send Images:

Once of the first mistakes I made in PR was just after I had graduated and was working in a lovely PR agency as a Junior Account Executive. I was asked by a very well renowned journalist for an accompanying image of a story he was running for one of our prestigious clients. Knowing as I did, even then, that the image needed to be high resolution I searched for the biggest image I could find and proudly sent over a 19MB image to his inbox!  In those days technology wasn’t quite was it is now and I succeeded in blocking up ALL ingoing and outgoing messages for the rest of the day. Needlesstosay I was not flavour of the month. Since then I only ever send images directly to someone’s email address if specifically requested. For all other times, I send over a link to a cloud based file share, or I use Wetransfer. Both methods allow you to know whether your contact has accessed the files or not and therefore gives an additional indication as to how likely they are to cover the story.

 

The rule of thumb I work to is, if they haven’t requested an image, they’re unlike to run the story.

 

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Who is listening anyway?

Listening

Which social media platforms to use and why?

When you set up a new social media platform it can feel a bit like you’re talking to yourself in the beginning. And let’s be honest for the first wee while, you are. But if you do it right, it doesn’t feel lonely for long.

When you’re getting started it’s imperative that you use the correct social media platform to reach each audience you wish to engage.

Facebook: Let’s be honest, just about everyone has a Facebook page. My mum, your great auntie Margaret and Bill the window cleaner all have Facebook pages. Why? The top three reasons for most consumers are:

1.  Staying in touch and sharing photos with friends and family members

2. Making new friends and contacts though groups

3. Everyone is using Facebook

So my advice is to tread carefully when using Facebook to promote a business. The content you share needs to be something that users won’t mind hearing about during their ‘relaxation’ time. Think about the time of day as well as the content you post. 


Twitter: Unlike Facebook, not everyone has a Twitter page and the 140-character format doesn’t translate as well to consumer usage as it does to:

1.  Businesses – nearly all have a twitter account

2. Celebrities

3. Media

Have this audience in mind when you are growing your Twitter following. Aim to connect with businesses that support your network such as suppliers, stockists and distributors. Tailor your content appropriately for this audience and be sure to @mention all primary contacts. On Twitter you can get your message in front of journalists and national buyers, just like that. It’s important to get your #hashtags right.


LinkedIN: Used heavily by recruiters as your profile takes the format of an online CV, but it isn’t only recruiters looking to connect. It is the perfect tool to find and be found by contacts so make sure your profile is up to date. If you want to make personalised approached to specific buyers and owners then it can be worth upgrading to PRO. It is good to interact within groups relevant to your industry and perhaps even post some “news updates” once a month.

Instagram: Personally, Instagram is my favourite social media outlet. Why? Because it is almost free of advertising and spam. It is just a stream of photos and quips from friends I like and brands I follow. It’s incredibly simple and it works. This is not an outlet on which you can be pushy; if people like what you post, they will follow you. The trick to being found on Instagram is getting the #hashtags right so the right people can find you.


Now you know, let’s get social!

 

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PR Timing

PR Timing

To generate great PR for your business, timing is critical. Depending on the news story you may need to start thinking about PR up to six months before your busy season, whether your ice cream sales boost in the warmer months or your gift box company comes into its own on the run up to Christmas you need to plan well in advance to get the best PR results possible.

Get ahead of the game with one of our media planners, stick it on the wall of your work space and start highlighting opportunities that fit your brand. Click here to find out more.

As for media we can give you a quick user guide on how long you need to plan in advance to get into different types of publications:

  1. Websites, can turn a press release into content in a matter of days or hours.
  2. Newspapers, depending on the story it might appear in the press the very next day, a few days later or a week or two later. News tends to be quickest and features tend to take longer.
  3. E-zines, depending on how frequently the e-zine is published will depend on how long it takes for your coverage to appear but you’ll be safe if you think of them as needing the similar time scales to printed consumer magazines.
  4. Blogs, depends entirely on the nature of the blog and the story if they are testing or reviewing a product properly they will need time, could be days or weeks.
  5. Supplements and Consumer Magazines, usually need at least six weeks at the very least to turn a piece around, it would be better to pan for two to three months in advance.
  6. Glossy Magazines, are the Rolls Royce of PR opportunities, these publications need more time to write, shoot, design, set and print. Most publications will be working on editions between four and six months in advance.

All lead times will vary from publication to publication so the above is just a guideline. For the most accurate lead times you will need to phone up the publication and ask which edition they are working on.

Look out for our blogs offering tips and advice on how to generate PR for your business.

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