The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Friday Guest Blog: PR on a Budget

by Jo Leah, Managing Director, Weber Shandwick Manchester

Listen to the podcast version

In a nutshell, PR is about relationship building and reputation management. Relationship building because you’re connecting with your customers and the media. Reputation management because you’re controlling the messages that are being put out there and what’s being said about you. And if you can’t control what’s being said about you, then at least you’re putting the facts across.

What can PR do for your business?

PR is about generating awareness and ultimately, making the phone ring. But it’s also important for people to have a sense of what you do and why you’re better than the competition. You can influence opinions through PR.

Our approach

  • What do you want to say?
  • Who do you want to say it to?
  • How will you say it?

In terms of what you want to say, have a think about your key messages, simplify them and relate them back to your brand. Then prove it! If you’re world-leading, substantiate it with facts and figures. If you’re a specialist, line up some case studies to show just how effective you are. You should really have no more than 4 –6 key messages at the most. These messages should consist of 8 or 9 word sentences that sum up what you want to get across and importantly, how can you substantiate that message? Then also, what is the benefit of your message and how can you make it meaningful to your audience.

This should help to inform who you want to speak to. Your initial answer might be everyone! But think about how you want to target your audience. It’s a question of getting the right media, whether this is The Times, a trade magazine, your local newspaper or something online like a popular blog or a Facebook group.

Now how will you say it? What tone do you want? Who is going to be the voice of the company? You should definitely have one. Some of the most successful companies have a very strong, charismatic leader. No matter what you think of Richard Branson, he has done an awesome job as the voice of Virgin and that’s enabled him to stretch that brand across so many sectors.

Your brand

One really useful exercise we go through with clients is to ask them to tell us about their brand and so often people start to talk about their logo. But a logo is just the icon for your brand. The brand is a set of perceptions in people’s minds. What do we think of that company? What do we assume about that company? A number of factors feed into your brand and in a nutshell, everyone in your organisation should be able to articulate what the brand is and where the business is heading.

At its most simple it’s the vision. What is it that you want your company to be? The ‘mission’ is how are you actually going to get there? This is the action plan, underpinned by the company values – what is it that you stand for? Knowledge? Expertise?

Then it’s important to think about what style and tone you want to adopt. This really helps when writing press releases, features, blogs or website content. You may want personality and humour or you might want to appear very cerebral and informative. Getting the tone right is the glue for all communications.

Then comes positioning. What is it that makes you different? How do you want to position your company?

And the proposition is the clever form of words that get people to buy into what you’re selling and realise what you’re all about. Think about how you can summarise it and get your communications moving.

Court of public opinion

People say to us “we need to talk to everybody” but practically, you can’t do that. You need to refine your audience. At any one time you should probably be talking to no more than six key audiences. So you may need to lobby government, you may need to talk to employees, you may need to talk to customers… and even in terms of your customer base you may want to break it down further and look at different groups and how you can approach them.

Also, what is the customer’s trigger? What is going to make them come to you to buy something?

Then you can decide what tactics you’re going to use. How are you going to strike up that conversation?


This is where you get creative. What’s the big idea behind your press release? What’s the tactic that’s going to get people talking? What will make a journalist want to run that story?

In my experience, it’s always useful to have either a creative area in your office that you can go to talk through ideas and brainstorm or even go off-site, away from any distractions.

Your PR toolkit

So now putting your hard work into action. I’ve put together a PR Toolkit which can help you out with some of the basics on what a journalist might like to receive in their inbox, how to grab the headlines and some golden rules.
You can take a look at the PR Toolkit here

*Don't forget to listen to the full podcast of Jo's presentation including how to put together a winning press release and further explanation of the 'golden rules' of media relations.

Bite Size

Intended to suit small budgets, Bitesize provides SME's with a flexible approach to PR allowing them to choose a range of Weber Shandwick's tactical services, delivered by its team of Bitesize executives, without the worry of a long-term contract or in-depth strategies.
Hannah Roberts at Weber Shandwick on 0161 238 9405.

Click here to find out more about how the Chamber can help with PR including some upcoming events...

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