PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR THE LOCAL RETAILER

According to the Public Relations Society of America, by definition, public relations is ‘the strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  Essentially, public relations is the ability to influence the way the public perceives your business and products.

Now, public relations can often be confused with marketing and advertising, but the three should work in conjunction with your sales team to improve and promote your business in the best possible way.  Whether you have previous experience with using public relations as a business tool, or you are thinking about using this for the first time, we’re going to cover the basics of public relations and press releases to help you design an easy and effective campaign.

Why Public Relations and Press Releases?

Public relations and press releases are great business tools for several reasons, with the main being that you are the one in control of the information released.  Since you are in the driver’s seat, you can regulate your image, the tone of the message and medium where the message is sent, thus creating the ultimate booster for you and your business.

Other benefits include increased brand awareness and public influence, image building and increased credibility.  Plus, aside from the cost to actually create the message, it is essentially free and it works directly with your current advertising and marketing plan.

What information to release?

There are several things to keep in mind when determining what information to put in press releases:  does it have an impact on my public or local community?  Is it current news?  Will it boost my credibility as the local expert?  Will it set me apart from other businesses?  Consider some of the following topics to use for press releases:

  • Sponsorship of local charities
  • New products or channels available to your community
  • Grand Openings or Open Houses
  • Expansion
  • Contests and Giveaways
  • Industry awards or customer service awards
  • Unique or new services not offered by other businesses

Although you may be partial to your business, not everything is newsworthy.  Only release items you are truly proud of, or know will set you apart from other businesses.  Another thing to keep in mind is to stay positive – remember, you are in control, so make sure to generate excitement and upbeat responses from your public.

Where to Send your Releases

Now that you have determined your press-worthy story and typed it up for publication, where do you send it?  That all depends on the topic you are releasing.  For the most basic answer, your local TV stations, newspapers and radio stations are a good place to start.  For newspaper (or print in general), contact the beat writer directly.  For TV and radio stations, get the information for the assignment desk editor and send the story to them.

Another thing to keep in mind is industry news.  If the item you are releasing is directly correlated to a specific industry (partnerships, new product lines, etc.), don’t hesitate to send the release to the publications for that industry, which can include magazines, newsletters and online sites.  For example, when DOW Electronics recently announce its new partnership with Mobile Solutions, we sent our press release to the top 12 Volt publications, such as 12voltinsider.com, 12voltnews.com and Mobile Electronics Magazine to name a few.  These types of publications often rely on their readers to provide them with current news, and appreciate those who are proactive about submitting information.

Public relations and press releases are truly an art, so don’t get discouraged if your release doesn’t get picked up the first time you send one out.  Often times it takes several releases before you get even one mention, but once you perfect the ‘magic formula’ and create your contact lists at individual publications, it will be no time before you get mentioned on a regular basis.  Just keep at it and continue to build the business image and credibility of your business.

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