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The Five Minute PR Plan

Public relations is probably the most misunderstood of the professions which can help small businesses and yet it can be the most effective at shifting goods both online and in traditional ways. In this mini series of articles, I will illustrate how a professional campaign can be run in house by a small business without too much investment in money or precious time.

It’s still the case that many small businesses a) want to do PR but can’t afford it b) think it’s a waste of money compared to advertising and marketing. If this applies to you read on. Let’s establish that PR can be learned quickly and it can also be applied in bit sized chunks around certain crucial tasks you do already.

So let’s have a look at a) first. This idea that advertising and marketing is more of a direct sales oriented approach. True PR is about the message and it’s about the conversation. But in having the conversation, that’s also about shifting goods from A to B. Let’s not get into definitions and endless strategies here. And let’s leave the what’s more important PR or marketing? arguments in the school playground where they belong. We want to send out a message that our goods are superior. We want to have that conversation with our key clients and customers that we keep doing the business for them. So in other words, you are already doing PR.

Firstly you communicate:-

    * On the phone
    * Around the office
    * Online
    * Selling
    * Dealing with orders

These are fundamental to the success of the business. What would happen if you added the word + PR to each of the above functions. So when you are on the phone selling, add a journalist a day on to your list of sales prospects. While you are fixing your own Facebook, why not create a “page” for your company and start to add fans. Whilst you are dealing with an order, ask the customer if he wouldn’t mind being added to your email newsletter database.

These are pretty simple “add ons” which would add maybe five minutes each to your working day but would mean that your company becomes more PR dynamic as opposed to seeing it as a necessary evil. Clearly there are certain tools of the trade which need to be learned.

The good old press release will never die a death. In fact judging by the number of free press release sites which are now available online, it looks like that most useful activity is on the increase. At the beginning of the recession, I did honestly wonder whether there would be any trained journalists left in the traditional media such as newspapers and TV or perhasp we woul dbe faced with teh horrendous of blogging up “news.” The fact is that redundancies in traditional media seem to have bottomed out with the result that you can still ring your local reporter and tell him or her your good news.

The main trend that has happened in your favour is that under staffing has meant that journalists are more willing to take your copy, pictures and even video content as long as it is formatted correctly and most importantly it’s not a glorified advert but a reasoned piece of genuine news.

The best way of looking at this is to put yourself in the reader of that publication and consider whether you would like to be sold fluorescent work suits in the first paragraph of your local newspaper. I hate to use an old cliché but I am going to use it anyway. Where’s the sizzle in that?

Now if you could pay a freelance to dress the local mayor up in a fluorescent suit amidst his fluffy regalia and take a photograph, you would have what we term in the trade a “photo story.” The humour in the picture could tell a better picture than any earnest words on the importance of wearing the correct gear. While we are on the subject of clichés, a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s true though!

If that could be filmed in HD at the same time, you’d have a photo story plus a video promo for You Tube and the newspaper website. So you’re adding five minute projects on top of the jobs you are already doing and having an influence on sales and marketing as you go along.

But how will all this resourced? May I be so bold as to repeat myself. You are doing it anyway! You are selling your product and you are simply adding other prospects to your business. In essence, PR is selling your brand.

In Part Two I will look at what you might need to stock up on to make this Five Minute PR Plan work for your company and I will be guiding you through the essential techniques used by PR professionals such as writing a press release and shooting a video news release I can promise you that no brains will be harmed in the making of your campaign. See you on the front page.

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