Memorable marketing solutions exclusively for small businesses in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire    June 2008




Going public

Public (aka Press) Relations might seem, at first glance, to be an area of marketing strictly reserved for large organisations.  It's often assumed that you need big plans and a big budget before PR can play a part in your marketing.  But that is not always so ...

Is PR the best way to communicate with your audience?

The role that PR can play in your marketing mix is heavily swayed by the nature of the target customers for your products and services.  It might be that they are more influenced by editorial coverage in certain media than by advertising or other means of communications.  This can be true of both consumer and business audiences.  In this case diverting other spend into PR might generate better overall results.

Also, depending upon your business, your audience might be very geographically focused, in which case local newspapers and magazines can be very effective.  But do remember that your story might well get placed on the same page as coverage of jumble sales and council meetings!

However, the audience for your particular business might be very diffuse, in which case the cost of covering all of the influential media might be prohibitive.  Or it might be that the ideal media for your target customers is genuinely beyond your reach, like national newspapers, television news, and so on.  Though even these can be attainable for small businesses in some circumstances.

It is also worth remembering that whilst print media still carries the greatest level of influence, the internet is increasingly seen as an important source of factual information by many.  So make sure that you investigate online media as well before coming to any firm decisions.

Can the media really 'carry' your message?

Having established that there are convenient and affordable media vehicles for your audience is a great start, but whether they will be effective for your business also depends upon what you are trying to say.  The message must be 'carry-able' by the media.

It's no good trying to convey a complex business proposition in a journal that generally covers human interest and lifestyle stories.  The readers simply wouldn't be interested.  Similarly using too blunt a sales message in an independent and authoritative journal might fail to impress.

In the case of local newspapers, it is also important that any message contains sufficient local elements to be genuinely interesting to the readers.

You will find that the editorial staff at the publication will have a clear view of their readership and what kind of things will interest them.  The editors just won't publish material about your business unless they feel that it fits the right profile.

This is where the services of a PR expert will come to the fore.  The expert can help you short cut the process and quickly target the right media with the right messages ... or advise you that PR maybe isn't the right tool after all.

How can you get press coverage?

Assuming that you've decided that PR has a role to play in your marketing mix, and which media to use with which type of messages, then you need to find ways to get coverage.

I've found that there are generally four main ways of reliably getting press coverage.

1) Be rich and/or famous - film stars, politicians

2) Be a large and influential company - Microsoft, Tesco, BP

3) Be associated with someone rich and/or famous or a large and influential company

4) Be genuinely interesting

For a small business it is typically only option 4 that is available.  And unfortunately, being genuinely interesting is much harder than it sounds.  This is because the arbiter of what is genuinely interesting, or not, is the editor of the media acting on behalf of the readership.

So a story that you think is really interesting from your company's viewpoint might not be interesting to your target readers.  And be aware that editors are very well versed at detecting (and rejecting) uninteresting stories that are 'dressed up' as interesting.

Still help is at hand.  Once again, a PR expert can help you find aspects of your business, your customers or your future plans that can be offered to media editors in a way that they will see as truly interesting to their readers.

I worked with one expert recently who managed to get coverage in the Financial Times for a very small company in High Wycombe.  He was successful because he understood what the editor was looking for and the story he was 'selling' was genuinely interesting to the readers.

Memorable marketing

Thinking and working pragmatically like this will help you to make your marketing work better for you in a more memorable way. This means that your target customers will be able to differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors and clearly see the value in buying from you.

If you would like some advice on memorable marketing techniques for your own business, or you know someone at another business who might need help, then please contact us. The sooner you start, the sooner you will benefit.


Public Relations

Download this handy guide which explains how best to approach Public Relations in order to improve business effectiveness.

Written by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as part of their Directors' Briefing series, this document makes easy reading for business people of all experience levels.


Marketing Effectiveness Assessment

A free service to small businesses in the Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire area, the Marketing Effectiveness Assessment delivers a professional audit of how a business is using the tools of marketing to communicate to existing and potential customers. It also includes a series of simple and cost-effective marketing activities that the business can implement immediately and at low cost.

Download the factsheet now.


Useful Links ...

Adduce Marketing

Chartered Institute of Marketing

Marketing UK (information portal)

Marketing Profs (free articles)



Back Issues ...

Marketing Memorabilia