This week I read ‘Do your own PR’ by Gardner, P. (2009). This is what I learned and what it made me think:

It is important to make time for PR. Often it isn’t urgent, PR doesn’t knock on your door or demand attention like other things and other people do. But it is essential, so it must be done. And do it now, don’t put it off. You will be surprised how little time it takes, you really will. And be persistent.

Don’t try it once, get lack-lustre results and then give up. This is the process of snowballing. Roll that PR snowball down that hill and watch when it becomes the size of the biggest snowman or woman! It could take hours (if you are really very lucky), or days, weeks, months or even years to have PR success. But the longer it takes the deeper and more credible your back catalogue and track record becomes.

And whatever you do, maximise that input and investment by following it up. Don’t cast your line out into the still waters of the external environment, only to be too busy and distracted doing something else instead, missing the nibbles on your line. Be present. Land that catch.

And please focus on the key purpose of PR.  That is to communicate your message, your mission, your ‘ask’ of the world around you.  This is not an exercise in making you famous. 

Do your research. Read. Scan the media. All of it. Don’t be a snob and limited, look at everything. Talk to lots of different people and more importantly listen to them. Scan the horizon. Be on top of trends and stories. Read regularly, and keep abreast of the external messaging market and news stories. Learn to anticipate what the next news story will be. This will help you be prepared and be ready to comment when people need a statement from you. You can get in first by sending your comments before they have thought about it.

Be brave. One lesson I learned at ‘fundraising school’, is don’t be afraid of ‘no’. You will most likely be told no several times. And don’t accept the first rejection. Treat it as the initial response; your first bite at the maggot. And tug a little harder to see if you can generate more interest. Offer different ideas.

Make sure you focus on communicating your message to promote your work and its effects. Not you as the wannabe famous person behind it. That is shallow and everyone will notice what you are up to. It will put them off.

These days the lines between PR and marketing are blurred (p3). Getting our message across using the various modern platforms and social media mean we can use both aspects for the same outcome. Use your social media platforms of choice. What is the best match (or matches). Things like Twitter help keep people informed, sign people up to your cause, and make best use of the speed of news and thinking. You can also use it to ask market research questions, and develop a following of like-minded people.

Apply for and win awards.  I know.  Some are better than others.  But they have their place.  Ask any Oscar winner.

Write articles. You most likely won’t get paid for this, directly anyway. But treat it as thinking time, profile raising, and idea development investment or free advertising. Develop relationships with magazines. Populate your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles with posts. Link them altogether. Put something on one platform and then promote it on all the others. Comment on other people’s postings. Write letters to newspapers, submit to journals.

Blog, for yourself and use it to promote your business. This is best if you represent the business. Take the relatively unbridled opportunity to communicate your morals, ethics, values, and thought leadership, ideas. Get someone to check it before you upload it. Your commentary can be personal. But make sure you are following policy and aren’t falling into the common PR pitfalls. Comment on other blogs to drive people to your blog. Ask to guest blog on others’ blogs. This increases your reach and collects credibility. Get involved in video blogging or vlogging if you dare!

Write a book. Self-publish if no one else will. At the very least issue well-written and well timed press releases to the specialist sector, local and national press. There’s plenty of advice on press releases on the internet. And if that is too much, write and circulate your own newsletter. Not too often and make it worth reading. Not too self-congratulatory. Be informative. Lead thinking. Newsletters can also be useful for keeping track of previous, recent, current, possible and future customers. Your newsletter mailing list becomes your contacts database.

Make time for PR. And don’t fall into the trap of only doing it when things are slack, nor neglect it when things are busy. This is something to do all of the time. And you have to make it happen, because it won’t come a knocking!

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