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How to Establish a Public Relations Campaign

“How to Establish a Public Relations Campaign”

As you launch and grow your business, one of the most tricky and misunderstood challenges involves public relations. While handling the media and releasing information in a crisis is one aspect of PR, most growing businesses have other PR needs.


Public relations: any activity that promotes a positive image, fosters goodwill, or increases sales.

As you launch and grow your business, you face all kinds of challenges. You’ll need to write a business plan, attract capital, and recruit, train, and motivate your employees. But perhaps the most tricky and misunderstood challenge involves public relations (PR).

You know the stereotype: a fast-talking flack at a press conference who tries to “spin” the message after news of a damaging event becomes public — like accounting irregularities or a class-action lawsuit. While handling the media and releasing information in a crisis is one aspect of PR, most growing businesses have other PR needs. Examples:

  • Media Relations and PublicityTwo closely related terms that define the goal of using the media — television, radio, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and the Internet — to sell your product or service through news articles, interviews, and product reviews.
  • Special Event PlanningSpecial PR events can include fairs, trade shows, conferences, parties tied to a business theme or relevant holiday, dedications, and celebrity appearances.
  • Public Interest and Image BuildingFast-growing companies may ally themselves with local charities, sponsor youth sports, and take other steps to communicate their commitment to community and social responsibility.


  • Increase SalesBy targeting a pool of potential buyers, you can build visibility and thus grow your client base. Each time people read your company name and associate it with something positive, it will reinforce their awareness of your firm and help them differentiate your company from your competitors.
  • Build CredibilityBusiness startups often need to build their credibility quickly to compete with more established rivals. By positioning yourself as an expert in your field, you can attract media attention and serve as a quoted source in published articles. As you give interviews and get quoted, professional associations may ask you to give speeches or participate in panel discussions, thus solidifying your credibility.
  • Forge a Customer RelationshipEmerging-growth entrepreneurs will tell you that it’s not enough to win a new customer. You need to convince a newcomer to come back and buy more. By aligning your PR campaign with your goal of attracting repeat business, you can build consumer confidence and trust.

    Example: By profiling some of your best customers on your Web site, you send a message that you value your clients and share a stake in their success.

  • Penetrate New MarketsWhen you enter a new market or launch a new product or service, you need to alert potential buyers that you’re open for business. Effective PR can draw them in and educate them about what you offer.
  • Attract InvestorsGood PR can introduce you to a range of investors. By presenting yourself as an authority who operates in the public eye, you show potential backers that you’re a leading spokesperson in your industry. Better yet, an ongoing PR campaign helps you craft an image as a long-term player in your business, rather than someone who’s testing the waters and may not stick around. Investors like to see this type of commitment.

Public Relations vs. Publicity

Publicity is one aspect of public relations. While both involve the same goal of drawing attention to your business, publicity consists of media interest and actual coverage, such as a news story, radio interview, or product review. This in turn promotes customer awareness. Most other PR functions aim directly at the potential customer, such as speeches, seminars, special events, and newsletters.

“When I think of the word ‘publicity,’ I see a press agent who goes out and generates attention,” says Tina Brown, a prominent magazine editor. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, she distinguishes between publicity and “discussion,” in which consumers engage themselves in a product by reacting to it directly.

Getting the public to discuss your company thus becomes the ultimate goal of PR. When they grow aware of what you’re selling or what your firm stands for, they can relate to it on many levels. Publicity can come and go, but with a solid PR campaign you can connect with your audience over the long haul.

Two Common PR Myths

  1. “You have to hire a PR professional to really get results.”

Not true. If you understand your market, identify what’s noteworthy about your business and compose a compelling message, you can get results on your own. While PR professionals may argue that they have media contacts that you lack, that’s all the more reason you should initiate such relationships.

  • “You have to spend a lot of money to make a PR campaign successful.”


Again, not true. By applying some of the guerrilla tactics that you’ll learn in the pages that follow, you can attract the kind of positive notice you want without a major cash outlay. Online resources make it easier than ever to wage a PR campaign while keeping your costs down.

Publicity vs. Advertising

When you advertise, you create a tightly controlled message. You know exactly what your advertisement will say, but with publicity you have no idea how the message will be conveyed to the public. For example, a reporter can quote you out of context; the resulting publicity may not necessarily advance your business goals.

More importantly, you don’t pay for media-generated publicity. This can make it more credible and influential than a paid advertisement.


  1. Press Releases. These short documents detail what’s new, different, or exciting about your business. Press releases make it easy for journalists to understand how their audience might benefit by learning more. A tight, one-page press release that captures the most newsworthy information about your firm can persuade key media contacts to write a story and mention your business favorably.
  • Press Kits. A press kit or media kit often includes a press release along with background information and your business card — all packed neatly in a snazzy, eye-catching folder. The folder might also include photographs, product information sheets, articles from other publications, customer references or testimonials, financial data, your biography, and a list of questions you’re prepared to answer (also known as a “cheat sheet” for radio and TV hosts).
  • Tip Sheets/Newsletters. A tip sheet is a page of snappy advice or information that helps your customers. Newsletters provide short articles and practical information that’s of interest to your target audience.
  • Bylined Articles. The advantages of writing articles about your area of expertise and persuading editors to publish your submissions are twofold: You can advance your agenda while arranging for your name, phone number, Web site, and a few sentences about your business to appear at the end of the piece.
  • Awards. Applying for industry or local awards provides great visibility if you win or earn recognition as a finalist. Many trade journals, government agencies, and professional associations sponsor annual “best of” award programs for entrepreneurs.
  • Online Outreach. Smart, media-savvy entrepreneurs use chat rooms, their own Web sites, and other Internet-based tools to launch awareness-building campaigns of their companies.
  • Special Events. Examples include fund-raisers, contests and drawings, public celebrations of your company milestones such as your firm’s anniversary, book signings, and client parties.
  • Trade Shows/Conferences. To maximize your presence at a large event, you may want to pay for a centrally-located booth that’s guaranteed heavy “foot traffic.” Or you can save money and strategically prowl the aisles to spread your message, perhaps by introducing yourself to key contacts or participating in “break out” sessions that relate to your business.
  • Speeches. Deliver a speech on your business to community groups, local schools, or nonprofit agencies.THE THREE STEPS OF A PR CAMPAIGN [top]

    Follow these three stages to launch a successful public relations campaign:

    1. Plan
    2. Outreach
    3. Integrate


    Determine Your Goals. Of the nine PR tools listed above, you must decide which ones will work best for you. Listing your top objective(s) will help you identify the right tools to use.

    Example: If you run a retail store specializing in custom window treatments and your goal is to get more people into your store, then a special event can help. You can issue a press release to the local media announcing that you’ll conduct a free seminar, “How to Save Energy in Your Home.” Prepare to follow up and persuade newspaper editors to run a story about your event. To enliven your press release, include a list of the “top 10 ways” to save energy or the “top 10 energy-wasters” at home.

    When drafting your goals, make them as specific as possible. Instead of hoping for increased sales, for instance, address specific ways you’ll increase sales such as attracting more visitors to your Web site, cultivating a new market, or dispelling myths about your product.

    Write down your specific goals below. Next to each one, list those PR tools that you think will help you attain that goal:

    Goals PR Tools

    In setting goals, make sure you know whom you want to reach. To court a younger demographic, for instance, you may want to tap the Internet more aggressively rather than relying on standard press releases or advertising.

    Example: In the summer of 1999, a small, independent movie called “The Blair Witch Project” became a blockbuster hit in large part because of an Internet PR campaign. Here’s how one of the film’s producers explained why they used the Web as their primary promotion tool, “When you buy television advertising, you’re getting the D student. The A and B student is on the Internet.”

    Also think in terms of strategic alliances you can establish with other products, services, or businesses. This way, you can achieve your PR goals by reinforcing your message to the public in an understated or clever manner.

    Example: During Anne Rice’s book tour to promote her novel “Vampire Armand,” she combined bookstore appearances with a blood drive. Stores were paired with hospitals, and people who had given blood got to the head of the book-signing line to meet the author.

    Establish Your Priorities. Now that you’ve identified your PR goals and the tools to realize them, decide which goals matter most. Weigh these factors:

    • Time. Increasing your sales through PR might involve planning special events, writing and issuing a press release, or applying for an industry award. Even if you hire an outside PR agency or delegate these tasks to an employee, you still need to decide how much time you can realistically devote to these activities.

    Positioning yourself as an expert in your field and getting more customers into your store are both worthwhile goals, but if your time is limited, select the one that’ll more directly benefit your overall business goals.


  • Resources and Skills. Analyzing your resources will help you prioritize. If your store is small and lacks a conference room, conducting an in-store seminar won’t work. If you love public speaking, addressing community groups can make sense. Harness your strengths to earn the best PR.Plot Your Approach. PR involves selling a message, idea, or product. To appeal to the media, research your options. Here’s an exercise to help you lay the groundwork for your PR campaign:
    1. Which group do you want to reach most with your PR campaign? (circle one)

    Potential customers

    Potential employees


    Investors or analysts

    Vendors, suppliers, consultants, or other outsourcing services

    Government regulators

    Other _____________________

  • Ask a sampling of at least five representatives of this group what types of media they read or use most frequently (such as trade magazines, Web sites, local newspapers, industry newsletters, etc.). List the most common answers: 
  • Contact each of these media sources. Ask a marketing or advertising director at each of these sources:

    Who’s your demographic target audience? Ages? Income level?

    What’s your circulation? (if printed publication) How many “hits” do you get a day? (for Web sites)

    I’m running my own PR campaign. Do you have any advice on how I can drum up your colleagues’ interest for my business?

    Armed with this information, you can both select the most appropriate places to concentrate your PR efforts and tailor your approach to maximize its appeal. For example, if you’ve isolated an industry newsletter that reaches the market you’re pursuing, read at least three copies and note the editorial style. Mimic this style in your press release.

    Note: If the purpose of your PR is to win new customers, identify what they care about most. If saving money excites them, then satisfy this urge. An in-store seminar or newsletter with practical, cost-cutting ideas can draw interest. If they suspect your startup business lacks stature or credibility, then positioning yourself as an industry spokesperson by getting quoted frequently in the press or giving speeches in the community can alleviate their concerns.


    Now that you’re ready to implement your plan, you need to choose the right PR tools to publicize your message. This may involve preparing and distributing printed materials, making contacts online, or meeting audiences in person.

    Regardless of which technique you choose, follow these rules to ensure good media relations:

    • If you call a journalist, never start by asking: “Did you get my press release?” Some media people get dozens of press releases a day. This question thus annoys them. Instead, start by introducing yourself and asking, “There’s some big news at my company. Is this a good time?”


  • Tell the truth. If you don’t, the media will probably find out about it, and your PR campaign will fail. Resist the urge to inflate the facts or make assertions you can’t support.
  • Admit mistakes. Journalists like when entrepreneurs are willing to acknowledge what they did wrong. That makes for more compelling, believable stories.
  • Justify a press conference. Nothing will damage your relationship with the media as swiftly as calling a press conference for no real reason. Unless you’re addressing a major public crisis, allying your firm with a celebrity or political figure, or announcing significant news that affects your local community, rethink whether to call a press conference.
  • Print contact info on all documents. When sending printed materials such as press releases, bylined articles, or press kits, make sure the bottom of each page includes a contact name, phone number, e-mail address, and your company’s Web address. Pages can get separated, so you want people to know how to reach you even if they only have one page of your 4-page article. On your company’s Web site, have full contact information appear at the bottom of the home page.

    Writing Your Way to Great PR

    Press Release. Only write a press release if you have new, important, newsworthy information to announce. Examples:

    • Your firm will redevelop an old industrial property outside of town.
  • Your firm has gained regulators’ approval to launch a new product.
  • You run a publicly-traded company and you’re disclosing quarterly earnings.
  • You’re aggressively ramping up hiring or laying off a chunk of your workforce and you want to explain why and put a positive “spin” on your efforts to assist outgoing employees to get new jobs.Like a real news article, your first paragraph must answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Limit the press release to one page and, if necessary, attach a second or third page that provides supporting facts, graphs, charts, financial exhibits, biographies, or photographs.

    Keep your paragraphs short — no more than four sentences each. Lace the text with brief quotes from yourself or outside experts to add variety and credibility.

    While the contents vary, all good press releases use a similar design and format:

    • Print the press release on your company’s letterhead, unless you hire an outside PR agency and they use their letterhead.
  • On the top left margin, insert the words FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE followed by a colon.
  • On the right side of the page, insert the word CONTACT followed by a colon. Then identify the person in your organization who’s responsible for answering questions and providing additional information to the media. That might be you, your head of media relations, or your chief financial officer, depending on the topic of the press release. Under this name, include this person’s day and evening phone numbers and e-mail address. Give evening phone numbers so that journalists on tight deadlines can reach someone outside of normal business hours.
  • Skip two lines after the contact information and write a headline in capital letters and boldface type in the center of the page. It should resemble the style of headlines you read in the newspapers and magazines that receive your press release. It should specifically convey your message without sounding like an advertisement.

    Example: Avoid “Windows’ Galore Can Save You Big Bucks” or “Stop Throwing Money Out the Window” because they sound like come-ons. Here’s a better, more news-oriented headline: “New Window Treatment Called ‘Revolutionary’ by Conservationists” or “EPA Asks Consumers To Cut Energy Consumption By 50%”.

  • The first paragraph of text begins with the city and state from which the press release originates and the date. Example: Akron, Ohio, June 4, 2000.The media’s response to your press release depends on its quality. If it’s well written, truly newsworthy, and appropriate for the publication that receives it, your odds of success soar. Start by mailing 200 to 300 press releases to targeted media. Then analyze your response.

    If the press release appeals to general interest, you might expect 10 to 20 mentions in publications out of a 200-300 sampling. On the other hand, if your topic is highly specialized, then two or three inquiries or mentions from the media are on target.

    If you don’t get a reasonable response, rethink your message. Do editors of your target publications deem it newsworthy? Or are you pursuing the wrong types of media? Maybe you sent your press release to science editors when lifestyle editors should have received it.

    If you’re sure you have a winning press release, then try expanding your mail or e-mail list. See the “Resources” section at the end of this module for more information.

    Press Kits. While press kits tend to stand out in the pile more than a press release, they’re also more costly and risky. Some reporters find unsolicited press kits annoying and wasteful, so it’s best to send them on request only.

    The press kit should provide helpful, relevant information that builds on your press release. Do not send reprints of advertisements, sales brochures, or point-of-sale displays. Journalists want straightforward information, not fluff.

    Example: Rather than send a flowery description of your company’s “mission” or your “vision,” provide an easy-to-understand corporate history in timeline form. It might include the date you:

    • launched your company;
    • hired your 50th or 100th employee;
    • moved into your current headquarters;
    • opened your first retail outlet;
    • introduced a product or service;
    • hit $1 million in annual sales; and
    • merged with or acquired another firm.

    If you have product reviews from other newspapers or magazines or news articles about you or your company, send copies of these clips with the name of the publication where they first appeared and the issue date.

    If you want producers to book you on radio/TV interviews, have your press kit include a list of your prior appearances (date, name of host, station call letters), possible topics for on-air discussion and sample questions you’re ready to answer. You might also include a page of testimonials from other hosts who’ve enjoyed your guest appearances (“callers lit up our phone lines,” “what an articulate and fascinating guest!”).

    Tip: If you mail 200 press releases, prepare at least 10 press kits so that you can promptly follow up for those recipients who request additional information.

    It’s customary to use a glossy folder for your press kit. Place your press release at the front of one of the pockets, usually the right one (this side gets noticed first). Include your business card in one of the pockets. If you’ve published a book, reproduce the book cover on the front of the folder.

    Tip Sheets/Newsletters. A newsletter can help you build credibility with potential customers, enhance your image with existing ones and serve as the basis for media coverage if it contains catchy, compelling information. By sending tip sheets, advisory bulletins, or newsletters to a mix of customers, prospects, vendors, investors, and journalists, you can update them on your business’s growth while providing useful facts or trend research that they’ll enjoy. Providing quarterly newsletters works best.

    Follow these guidelines to compose a successful newsletter:

    • Keep articles short.
    • Use only a few type styles.
    • Have short, attention-getting headlines.
    • Create regular columns such as Q&A or trend watch.
    • Encourage your readers to write, comment, and suggest future content.
      Tip: When sending unsolicited material to journalists such as newsletters or press releases, consider e-mail. Some people dislike faxes or “snail mail” PR copy unless they’re urgent or they ask you to fax or mail it.

    Bylined Articles. If you’re a good writer and have a strong opinion or new insights to share, this is an excellent way to establish yourself as an expert. Start by proposing an article to the appropriate editor at your local newspaper. Local newspapers often welcome the opportunity to publish articles from business leaders and entrepreneurs in the community. You may even suggest writing a regular column.

    Beware: Some local newspaper editors lack the time to edit guest submissions properly. Play it safe: Have a friend or colleague proofread the piece before you turn it in.

    Once your article appears, keep copies on hand to distribute in your press kit. Also approach larger newspapers or a trade publication with proposals for new pieces, enclosing your published clip(s).

    Before pitching your articles to magazines or trade journals, ask for an editorial calendar. Some publications distribute a monthly calendar that lists themes for upcoming issues or special reports during the coming year. While these editorial calendars are designed as a resource for advertisers, PR pros also use this information to propose article ideas for their clients that relate to the topics of future issues.

    Awards. When reading trade magazines or attending conferences, note any awards that publishers or professional groups bestow to businesses such as yours. Contact award sponsors, request applications, and review deadlines for submissions.

    PR Over the Internet

    The growth of the Internet offers many opportunities to mount a cost-effective online PR campaign. Rather than send out dozens of press kits or fuss with hundreds of hard copies of press releases, you can reach journalists or customers with a few clicks on your keyboard.

    Begin by cultivating online relationships with key reporters. Don’t send your messages to general e-mail boxes that go to an entire newsroom. It’s better to call a journalist in the morning (deadline pressure tends to increase by the afternoon), introduce yourself, and ask for his or her e-mail address.

    Ideally, you should call the reporter in response to a specific article. Give sincere praise so that you launch the relationship on the right foot. For instance, reporters like to hear that they tackled a complicated subject effectively or that they included all the most relevant, groundbreaking facts.

    Collect private e-mail addresses for at least a dozen key media representatives, from reporters to editors to bookers for TV talk shows that relate to your business. Then find a reason to send an e-mail to each person on your list at least once a quarter. Examples:

    • Critique their work. Give brief feedback on journalists’ articles and interviews. Limit your criticism but don’t hesitate to point out what you genuinely like or admire about their work. Look for ways to add to their knowledge or provide forecasts of industry developments or business cycles.
  • Suggest story ideas. Send e-mails that discuss the next generation of products, share evidence of worrisome economic signs, or propose human-interest stories relating to your industry. The more substantive your ideas, the better. You may even want to include names and phone numbers of experts they can call to research your story idea. This way, you become a valuable resource.
  • Give scoops. As you get to know certain journalists, you can learn to detect what kind of stories they covet. A technology reporter may enjoy hearing about new Web software. A TV host who prefers to feature segments on socially-conscious companies may like a heads-up of new entrants into this market. A magazine editor who publishes a monthly column on “comings and goings” in your industry will appreciate your call with breaking news of new, high-level hires at your company. Remember to e-mail these tidbits promptly while the news is still “hot.”Reporters rarely forget who gives them scoops. They’ll “owe you one,” and that’s just the kind of relationship you want to develop!
  • Supply news clips. Once you know a journalist’s favorite beat, download articles from other publications that address this area. Don’t assume every reporter has the time or inclination to read what competing magazines or Internet sites are writing about a certain topic. Again, you can strengthen your ties with journalists by serving as their unofficial “eyes and ears” in the field.If your company has a Web site, that opens up a whole new area for online PR. Provide one-click access from your firm’s home page so visitors can read recent press releases or your client newsletter. If you’re giving speeches or serving as a panelist at industry conferences, list the dates and places of your appearances.

    Using the Internet for PR: A Case Study
    To generate “buzz” about their new pop singer, Christina Aguilera, RCA Records launched a bold PR offensive over the Internet. RCA knew its audience: teens who buy rock CDs. So the company’s executives planted positive word-of-mouth on the Internet in teen chat rooms such as Alloy, Bolt, and Gurl, reports The Wall Street Journal (October 5, 1999, p. B1).

    RCA hired a marketing consulting firm to praise the singer online. Its employees would often pose as fans, thus hiding their job as corporate flacks. When her album hit stores, the marketers put 30-second soundbites of her songs on one of Aguilera’s official fan Web sites so that users could download and listen for free.


    PR Up Close and Personal

    Some of the best PR occurs face-to-face. When you look people in the eyes, you can tell a story that captivates them and arouses their emotions far more easily than if you rely solely on printed materials or online contact.

    Special Events. The right kind of events can deliver great results in building your company’s visibility. But there’s a big downside: the investment of time and money. Planning a party, seminar, or fundraising event can deplete your energy and prove a logistical nightmare. Some advice for managing PR events:

    • Start planning your event at least a year in advance.
  • Set a budget before you begin.
  • Compile a target list of attendees. If any of these people are government officials or celebrities, contact them early to confirm their attendance.
  • Decide where to hold the event. Reserve space in a conference center or other venue if necessary.
  • Prepare materials such as invitations, slides, displays, press kits, name tags.
  • Consider advertising if your budget permits.
  • Prepare and mail press releases, press kits, and invitations.
  • Determine press attendance and distribute press passes in advance.Trade Shows/Conferences. You don’t need to host a special event to generate positive PR. Scout your industry for seminars, conventions, and other events that expose you to media types, potential customers, or others whom you want to reach.

    Example: Your new business sells book lights, clocks, and related accessories. You’ve made headway selling to bookstore owners, who like to display your items as impulse buys near the counter. To introduce a new line of products, you attend BookExpo America, an annual convention where thousands of bookstore owners converge to learn about new books and products they can sell in their stores. You hand out free samples of your products to attendees, release a survey of the types of lighting that book readers prefer most, and introduce yourself to journalists. This way, you land interviews from the convention floor and generate a list of contacts for future reference.

    Speeches. Delivering a speech helps you reach new customers and gain recognition as an industry leader and media contact. If you’re an extrovert who can speak with passion about your business, you’re a great candidate for giving a speech.

    A good way to establish yourself as a speaker is to contact your local chamber of commerce, small business association, or fraternal clubs in your area. Offer to give a speech on a topic that interests their members. If you’re successful, audience members may approach you about speaking at another engagement.

    To prepare an effective speech, here’s what to do in advance:

    • Set the stage. Will you stay behind a lectern or wander among the audience? It’s often more dynamic to move in front of the lectern to connect more powerfully with your listeners. Also review the room configuration, lighting, and seating arrangement. Choose a set-up that’s comfortable for you.
  • Beat the clock. How long are you expected to speak? Make sure your speech fits within the allotted time frame. Practice often and time the entire talk.
  • Know your audience. What’s your audience’s attitude about the topic? If your business represents a new technology, do listeners understand it? Can you use acronyms freely or should you define everything first?
  • Prepare props. Will you be using audiovisual materials? If so, make sure you’ll have the equipment you need, such as a flip chart or large screen positioned in plain sight.
  • Rehearse. Practice at length with friends or colleagues in the audience, and videotape yourself giving the entire speech.
  • Begin with a bang. Open your speech with a compelling anecdote, startling statistic, or provocative question. The first 30 seconds can help you grab everyone’s attention for what follows.
  • Release nervous energy. If you stand behind a lectern, don’t clutch it with both hands. Move your arms and hands so that you gesture naturally.If you walk among the audience, don’t overdo it. Plant yourself for a few minutes before pacing a few steps and stopping. Keep a glass of water nearby at all times. Make eye contact one person at a time; don’t look over the heads of your listeners or visually sweep the room without actually looking at individuals.


    Use your PR results to maximum advantage. How? Integrate them into your other sales and marketing efforts. This will help offset the cost of producing PR materials.

    Some ideas for making the most out of your PR efforts:

    • Reprint articles and news blurbs and use them as supplemental literature for direct mail packages and as handouts at trade shows. Use positive quotes in your advertising to enhance credibility.
  • Provide your sales force with copies of feature articles that they can pass along to customers on sales calls.
  • Send copies of news articles to potential investors, vendors, and major creditors.
  • Record your speeches and give audio tapes to clients, journalists, and potential customers.
  • Take names from contest entries and add them to your mailing list of potential customers.ESTABLISH YOUR PR MIX [top]

    You’ll never know what PR tools will yield the best results until you test them. While some benefits of PR are intangible — such as the goodwill generated from charity events — much of your PR will measurably impact your bottom line.

    Based on your measurable PR results, establish your PR program for the upcoming year. Allot a percentage of time you’ll spend on each of the following.

    Tool% Time

    1. Press Releases
    2. Press Kits
    3. Tip Sheets/Newsletters
    4. Bylined Articles
    5. Awards
    6. Online Outreach
    7. Special Events
    8. Trade Shows/Conventions
    9. Speeches


    Use this exercise to sharpen the focus on your PR campaign. By identifying exactly what you want to achieve as a result of PR, you can maintain consistency and ensure all your spokespeople/employees stay “on message” when interacting with journalists, customers, and the general public.

    Answer these questions:

    1. If your audience (such as a reporter, a potential client, or a group listening to your speech at a conference) takes away just one point from your PR message, what would it be? Limit your answer to one sentence.



  • What do you want your audience to conclude from this point about your company? 

    Follow this three-step process to help you refine the purpose of your PR campaign:

    1. List all the themes or messages you want to plant in your audience’s mind. Brainstorm with your management team so that you get plenty of input. Ask them, “What do we want to tell people about our company? What makes us different/special? Why should others care?” Include benefits of your products or services, unique aspects of your business, impressive or startling statistics about your business, how your business applies breakthrough technology, etc.


  • Review your list. Select the three most compelling themes or messages that you want to communicate through your PR campaign. 
  • Compose a sentence that summarizes your “PR statement:” the three most important points that will drive your PR efforts. Example: [name of your firm] expects to grow at an annual rate of 35% by serving a largely untapped market that buys $70 million of clothes a year. 

    Educate everyone on your team about your PR statement. Make sure they reinforce this message whenever they embark on PR-related activities, from writing press releases to designing your firm’s Web site.

    Revisit this PR statement every quarter. Fast-growing companies often need to change how they position themselves to attract the kind of positive press that advances their goals.

    RESOURCES [top]


    Wooing & Winning Business: The Foolproof Formula for Making Persuasive Business Presentations by Spring Asher and Wicke Chambers. (John Wiley & Sons, 1998).

    How to Prepare, Stage, & Deliver Winning Presentations, 3rd edition, by Thomas Leech. (AMACOM, 2004).

    Guerrilla P.R.: How You Can Wage an Effective Publicity Campaign… Without Going Broke by Michael Levine. (HarperBusiness, 1994).

    Lesly’s Handbook of Public Relations and Communications by Philip Lesly. (NTC Business Books, 1998).

    New Dimensions in Investor Relations: Competing for Capital in the 21st Century by Bruce W. Marcusa and Sherwood Lee Wallace. (John Wiley & Sons., 1997).

    101 Ways to Promote Yourself: Tricks of the Trade for Taking Charge of Your Own Success by Raleigh Pinsky. (Avon Books, 1999).


    Mercury Awards honors PR and corporate communications, sponsored by MerComm Inc.

    Media Lists/Directories

    Capital Source, (National Journal Group, semiannual).

    Editor and Publisher International Yearbook: The Encyclopedia of the Newspaper Industry, (Editor & Publisher, annual). (212) 675-4380.

    National PR Pitch Book, (Infogroup, annual).

    Oxbridge Directory of Newsletters and National Directory of Magazines, (MediaFinder, annuals). (212) 741-0231.

    Yearbook of Experts, Authorities & Spokespersons, (ExpertClick.com, annual).

    Writer’s Market, (WritersMarket.com, annual).

    Media Database Software/Web Press Releases

    MediaMap, (888) 624-1620 or (617) 374-9300.

    Publicity Blitz, Bradley Communications.

    Press Access, (617) 542-6670.

    Medialink, (800) 843-0677 or (212) 682-8300.

    Wire Services/Press Release Distribution Services

    Media Distribution Services, (800) 637-3282.

    Metro Publicity Services, (212) 947-5100.

    PR Newswire

    U.S. Newswire

    Clipping Services

    Burrelle’s Press Clipping Service

    Luce Press Clippings

    eWatch Internet Monitoring


    Council of Public Relations Firms

    National Investor Relations Institute

    Public Relations Society of America

    Radio Talk Show Hosts Association, (617) 437-9757.

    Writer: Susan MaGee

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