Why companies should embark on their PR journey?
Emma (Journalist turned PR Director) – shares her experience of PR from UK to Singapore and the common themes to run an effective PR campaign.
Who am I?
Hi. I am Emma, the PR director here at Maven. I joined this intrepid crew in February of this year having moved to Singapore, from the UK, the previous year and it has been an interesting and enlightening transition moving media lands.
Moving to the other side?
I actually started my career on the ‘other side of the fence’ – I trained and worked as a broadcast journalist for outlets including the American network CBS News and the good old BBC. The role I enjoyed most was working as a regional radio newsreader where I had my own half hour lunchtime news show, and, being so near to London we got some big stories. My favourite interview ever was with the Russian KGB double agent Oleg Gordievsky – he returned the next day with a signed copy of his autobiography which is now one of my most treasured possessions.
However, I was destined for PR and, after serving my time at a London agency and having a lot of fun along the way, I set up my own agency specializing in health, beauty, fashion and lifestyle clients. I have always enjoyed working with small and mid-sized businesses, championing the smaller guy to succeed in a pool of bigger players.
The Shift to Digital Media
I have seen the media landscape change a great deal since I started out in PR; the biggest change of course being the shift to digital media generally and social media specifically with the rise and rise of the all-powerful ‘influencers’, something which has particular significance in the tightly knit environment of Singapore.
Offline vs Online? So the question is which one do we go for? The answer is it depends. It depends on your business objectives and where your consumers are at/ look out for. A good way to do it is to test it out and the results might surprise you.
The advent of digital media also allowed the proliferation of ‘start up’ websites, typically within the lifestyle and parenting fields, that could garner significantly high visitor numbers to justify advertising revenue.
Increasingly editorial opportunities have been replaced with pure advertising or ‘advertorial’ features coupled with ‘paid for’ promotion slots by influencers with significant social media followings. It has massively blurred the lines between PR and Advertising and raises the all-important question of credibility.
So should we go for PR or Advertising?
It really depends. From our experience, we would recommend the majority of our customers to deploy a mixture of both PR and Advertising. The key thing here to note is that before deploying them, you would need a strong and sound strategy that integrates the two in order to meet your objectives.
Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.
– Richard Branson
PR is by nature a nebulous beast. There is no guarantee of coverage in any target title as you are not paying for it but, when you do score editorial coverage, it is infinitely more powerful than advertising, because of the very fact you didn’t pay for it. Therein lies the conundrum for many small and medium sized brands – a ‘scattergun’ approach of paid for, quick hit and guaranteed ‘shout outs’ from influencers and advertising slots or the more credible but unpredictable and time consuming editorial opportunities. Many brands are choosing the former option and, from speaking with them, left feeling disappointed and out of pocket.
The reason for this is that you can’t build a brand without a long-term PR strategy. You might get a few hits that generate some on the spot sales but you are not going to build your brand strong, particularly with media savvy Millennials who can easily recognise when they are being ‘sold to’ via advert or influencer. Rather, brands should consider their PR team as their ‘influencers’, their primary storytellers who can weave the brand’s key messages in an engaging and credible way across online and offline media for the long term.
So how do I go about embarking on PR for my company?
A good PR team will come up with a month by month strategy of new story ideas to showcase a brand; its product or services, it’s heritage, it’s people and its values. When they share the story with press it will be shared pertinently – as a former journalist I know that writers don’t always have the time, or the inclination, to wade through pages of formal press release. Often, they just want an engaging top line and a great picture. Also, in a fast paced, digitally powered world, it’s worth remembering the old values still apply – when a PR says they can deliver an interviewee they must, when they say they will send images they should send them immediately to meet deadline and, when they finally score that great piece of editorial coverage, they must remember to say Thank You!
What to do for PR – 3 Quick tips on running a PR campaign.
- It always start with a strategy – (month by month) to achieve a brand’s objectives. Is it to increase educational awareness? Is it to push traffic to a certain outlet? Is it to push out new product? Profiling? Depending on the business objectives’, the PR team can strategize which story idea to push out as well as to which publications.
- Less is More. Just want an engaging top line and great picture. A lot of brands make the mistake of shoving a lot of information down the journalist’s throat. Remember it’s all about the hook to get their interest.
- Deliver fast. Journalist are pressed for time to meet deadlines and they will need information fast.
- Additional tip: Saying Thanks bring you wonders.
Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.
– John D. Rockefeller