CGM blog: Why does PR work?

What’s the point of PR?

It’s a fair question to pose in these dizzy days of digital marketing. Does media coverage amount to much when you can communicate direct to your audience in real time online?

Of course it does.

People still read newspapers – okay, maybe more online and via e-editions than print versions. And the broadcast media is bigger and more diverse than ever with a wider reach as many programmes are downloadable and therefore available to an online audience well past their original airtime.

Trouble is, good stories are hard to find.

Too much PR is aimless and often meaningless tosh produced by marketers who think their clients have a right to publicity rather than needing to create appetising stories that journalists will use to entertain, educate or inform their readers, viewers or listeners.

It’s not rocket science – the clue’s in the name. Public relations should relate to the public.

If a story is newsworthy – again, break that down – worth being in the news – it stands a chance of making it into print or on-air.

What a good PR agency should do is work with their clients to create stories they can circulate to the right publications and programmes – in fact, it’s the only game in town.

That’s why a good PR strategy should be targeted and focused – aimed at reaching a dedicated audience by appealing to the media (again think about it – ‘media’, in the middle, able to disseminate news – to an audience (your target audience).

Now, it’s pointless if marketers think they can simply buy a media disc with 1000’s of vague ‘info@’ contacts in the hope it will glean results if they can’t target specific contacts and work together to develop stories and relationships with journalists that will benefit their clients. 

In more than 20 years as a broadcast journalist, I never ever once used a story sent to the office email address yet thousands of directless emails are sent to newswires each day – it’s like shooting bullets into the sky and hoping to bring down a plane.

None of this, of course, should affect online PR and direct contact with your audience via digital media. But, even here, you need to play by the rules – the conduit you are using is a social media platform, and each has developed its own  etiquette.

For example, most of us give short shrift to anyone who connects with us simply to sell to us straight away. It is like online door to door selling – good luck making that work!  

It is the same with journalists. A press release, for example, has a set format for a reason and should contain all the essential information needed to shape a story concisely.

It isn’t the finite article itself (sometimes maybe, depending on how well it is written) and it definitely shouldn’t be sales spiel.

Yet too many press releases are pitched this way, lacking factual information in preference to pushy half-truths. Again, this will be spiked without hesitation.

As for long rambling missives – forget it. With hundreds of news releases arriving each day, the ability to sell the sizzle of a story has to be paramount. 

What you want from your PR are results – column inches, airtime, online space and so forth.

A constant stream of positive PR provides credibility and reputation and should communicate values, ethics and trust.

That’s why a good PR story is worth its weight in gold – it’s how you go about it that counts.

And if you want to create a positive road map for 2017 a successful PR strategy should be a key part of your plan.

Chris Green is an award-winning author and broadcaster and managing partner of Chris Green Media.

To find out what the power of PR can do for your business call us on 01905 453908 or email info@chrisgreenmedia.co.uk