Get Results From Your Public Relations Firm: Do’s and Don’ts for Start-Ups Seeking Publicity

Most new business owners know the value of publicity for promoting their company’s reputation and selling their product or service. However, many don’t know how to go about getting it. They may hire a public relations firm – a good idea even for start-ups – then be disappointed with the results.

This does not have to be the case. If you are the owner of a new business, you can have a successful working relationship with your public relations firm and achieve your goals simply by following some basic guidelines.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that should put you on the right track.

DO:

1. Expect honest representation. Your public relations firm should have a good idea of what will – and will not – get attention in the news media. They should also know the best media outlets and reporters to approach to get editorial coverage for your business. Listen to them. Problems in a PR firm-client relationship often stem from public relations counselors going against their better judgment and pitching a story they know will not fly, just to please an insistent client. Media pitches for a company with a reputation of sending out material that isn’t newsworthy are likely to be ignored.

2. Communicate everything about your business to your public relations counselor – not just what you think he or she needs to know. You may have some hidden gems of stories in your business that you – being an insider and not attuned to media interests – may not think are all that interesting. You should also share information about any potential problems or embarrassing situations. A PR professional will keep your confidences and help you manage negative publicity, should it occur.

3. Ask for a crisis communication plan. You may never have to utilize it – and let’s hope that’s true – but having a crisis communication plan in place and circulated among top officers of your company will come in handy to tap down negative stories before they balloon into major problems that could damage your company’s reputation.

4. Have a media contact procedure in place. Everyone – from the receptionist to the president – needs to know what to do if and when the media calls. The best advice is to have everyone refer calls from the news media to the public relations firm. They can sort out all the particulars and arrange for any interviews.

5. Respond quickly to interview requests as they are presented to you by your public relations person. Media interviews are an opportunity for you to present your company the way you want it presented. But reporters have deadlines; if you aren’t available, they will interview someone else, and you may miss out on an opportunity to get positive media coverage.

DON’T:

1. Expect a guarantee. Media coverage cannot be guaranteed, unless you do a “pay-for-play” agreement with a particular publication, in which you buy advertising and get an article on your company in return. Other than that type of arrangement – usually referred to as an “advertorial” – no public relations firm can, or should, guarantee coverage.

2. Be a one-hit wonder. One big round of publicity is not going to carry you very far. A good public relations program is an ongoing enterprise, and often a “drip-drip-drip” strategy is better than a one-time splashy feature.

3. Be caught unprepared. Ask for media training. You may be a great communicator in many ways, but doing a media interview is a special skill. Having some knowledge of how the media works, developing strong messages, and practicing delivering them will make you a better, more confident company representative.

4. Expect media coverage to do it all. There are many other ways to reach your targeted audience, including social media, marketing communications, and opportunities for direct engagement. A good PR person will look at your firm – its goals, its product or service offerings, its target markets – and design a communication strategy specific to your needs.

5. Be discouraged if your plan takes a while to get off the ground. You want to have everything – messages, action plan, trained spokespersons, etc. – in place before you go public. First impressions are lasting ones.

Know The Reasons To Use Public Relations For Your Business: A Checklist of Considerations

WHAT IS PR and WHY USE IT?
There are many possible reasons for using the powerful practice of public relations. First, let’s make sure we are on the same page when it comes to the definition of public relations. Public relations is also called media relations. The terms are used interchangeably though doing so is not completely accurate. Public relations obviously involves dealing with the public, while media relations deals with the media. The terms tend to be used interchangeably because it is through the media that we reach the public using this practice.

I’ve found in my adventures with my small business clients that starting out, most of them don’t have a clue about what public relations is or the power of its use. Small business owners rarely realize that sharing the stories -the news- of their businesses or brands through media outlets exposes their businesses in a way advertising can never accomplish.

Public relations is the practice, the art, of generating public interest in your business, message, product, service or what have you, using the distribution of your message through the media. In this age of information, that now includes “new media.”

This means getting your stories to the press online and off. Whether you realize it or not there are people whose job it is to get stories placed with the media. While media in this context includes social and online outlets, PR professionals are experts in NEWS media. These professionals are publicists and when they achieve their goals… it’s called publicity.

Articles in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, appearances on television and radio talk shows are generated by someone contacting those media outlets and convincing those outlets to discuss, interview, write about or otherwise put the message out there where the public can read, watch or hear it. Event publicity may even include allowing the public to EXPERIENCE your brand through live interaction and/or demonstration. In every instance of public relations, there are established standard practices of doing so and PR specialists, expert at getting it done.

The use of publicity -and PR professionals- is the primary way savvy business people these days successfully launch, grow and brand business.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: Use Publicity To Get It
Public relations can be reactionary, used in response to current trends or incidents, or to send out responses to company challenges, mishaps and scandals. There is a whole industry of PR professionals who specialize in “crisis management.” Conversely, proactive PR is designed to shape the public’s positive perception of you on an ongoing schedule, not to only produce stories when there is an event or in response to problems. Proactive PR is planned and executed on strategy that brands.

To take advantage of proactive PR, you must first decide what you want to achieve. Whether we’re talking about your product, service, new business model, retail store, organization, vision for change, book, stage play, art exhibit, or web site, whatever it is you’ve got going on, you need to decide what you ultimately what from it right away and into the long-term future.

CONSIDER
Do you want to grow from small business to big business? To eventually take your business public or sell it? Do you want local recognition or national fame and fortune? Do you intend to “go global?” To franchise? Are you in or planning an expansion? Think about those things then use the following checklist. This list, though comprehensive, is inherently incomplete. Use the list to trigger your thought process to decide your publicity goals. Use it by completing the following statement; check off and add as many (endings) as you like.

I want my public relations efforts to:
• Increase my visibility and name recognition.
• Increase my company’s visibility and name recognition.
• Increase my income.
• Increase traffic (retail, online).
• Generate recognition for members of my staff.
• Announce major achievements.
• Build (my brand) credibility in the industries I’m involved in.
• Change a misconception.
• Generate interest to attract investors.
• Help expose and build events.
• Generate or increase event attendance.
• Generate or increase membership.
• Expand my customer base.
• Build public awareness.
• Generate support.
• Attract volunteers.
• Enhance personnel recruitment efforts.
• Sell.
• Generate more publicity.

THINK FIRST
So, when going into business; developing a product, project or brand; expanding a company or planning ANYTHING that involves the need to communicate publicly, THINK FIRST. Your reasons for establishing a public relations program for your business shape your approach for developing, and dictate the angle or “spin” of, each of your publicity messages. Your reasons for using PR guide your message goals, objectives and your means of delivery. The reasons you choose for implementing public relations serve as foundation for, as well as leverage to build on, the marketplace perception you receive and the results you achieve.

Free Childrens Storytime at Various Boulder Public Library Locations

Enjoy books, songs and more at weekly storytimes for all ages at the Boulder Public Library’s very own Storytime for Kids weekly events! It’s a great way to get your children excited about learning and reading in an environment with all of the resources to help! In the children’s section of the bottom floor of BPL your kids can enjoy a 45 minute reading and then explore all kinds of books that they can take home with them. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times during the storytelling event.

The Boulder Public Library and all of its branches hold weekly childrens storytime for you and your kiddos. They are completely free and seriously fun. On almost every day of the week you can take your child to a session and have a good time in a safe and learning-focused environment. There are a variety of storytellers who read from many interesting children’s books. These people are seriously talented, speaking in silly voices and acting out the plot with animated expressions and movements. As stated above, you need to be with your child at all times.

The Main Boulder Public Library Branch

At the Main Branch of the Boulder Public Library, you can take your kids on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays every week. The event starts at 10:15am and ends at 11:00am. Here’s the address information: 1001 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, CO, 40.014008,-105.281557. Once you enter the library, the children’s section is on the 1st floor. The area where the storytelling magic happens is near the large northern windows.

Other Boulder Public Library Branches

The Meadows Branch Library has their childrens storytime event every Wednesday at 10:15am to 11:00am. Here’s how to get there: 4800 Baseline Road, Boulder, CO 80303, 39.997506,-105.23435

The George Reynolds Library holds their childrens storytime event on Tuesdays at 10:15am to 11:00am weekly. The George Reynolds Library’s address is: 3595 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305, 39.984404,-105.252804.

Spanish and English Storytime

Kay Negash, a nationally recognized storyteller and recording artist, has an event where she reads childrens stories in both English and Spanish to accompany multiple audiences of children and parents. On the first Saturday of every month you and your child or children can come to the Boulder Public Library’s Marcelee Gralapp Children’s Library to partake in this lovely learning process. All ages are welcome and the bilingual storytime event starts at 10:15am and ends at 11:00 am. You can contact the Marcelee Gralapp Children’s Library at 303-441-3099 and you can email them at [email protected] or [email protected].