Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an aspiring social media celebrity, you’ll have surely considered the need to form a solid PR strategy. Like most new players, however, you’re unlikely to have much access to a PR professional or agency. In lieu of your own personal PR team, we’ve covered the basics for you.
The first thing that often springs to mind with the term “public relations” is media coverage. Often, however, that’s neither the true goal – nor the best course of action. The potential audiences you might want to communicate with are as numerous as they are disparate: supporters, potential supporters, local businesses and even friends or family may all have an interest in what you’re doing. While we all dream of having our story told in the local paper, there are other, more intimate audience groups that may be far more crucial to your long-term success.
First and foremost, it is important that you learn how to communicate. You need to learn to tell your own story; if it’s a skill you don’t have, then it is a priority that you develop it.
“The ability to be comfortable in front of someone with a camera, comfortable in front of someone with a microphone, is a kind of pressure that most don’t realize is something that needs to be worked on and developed,” says longtime PR professional Efrain Olivares. “I had a conversation with a young driver and his family over the winter, and I said, ‘If you have the ability to do so in your school, you need to sign up for debate. Go sign up for public speaking and become very, very good at it.’
The next step is having a story to tell. So you have a cool product or a special skill: so what? There needs to be something more to your story, like special accolades. “There’s no better PR than winning,” says Olivares.
Another element to add to your story is a cause or a higher purpose, such as supporting a charitable cause. Doing so is not only a good way to get other people to tell your story, but it is also a compelling reason for you to be seeking media attention in the first place. Still, make sure you have the right intentions before you sign that cheque.
This brings us to the golden rule of public relations: have honest intentions, and don’t seek attention for the sake of attention. With an increasingly cynical public, people are getting better at sniffing out a rat.
“People way overuse the expression, ‘turning yourself into a brand,’” says Cleary. “All that means is that you are different from other people, and you need to find a way to positively highlight the differences between you and other people. Knowing who you are and what you want to relay is important to consider before you go projecting and trying to develop your audience.”
So there you have it: public relations in a nutshell. What story will you be telling?