Weiland & Associates

PR Manual

 

 

Using the Free Media

Public Relations and Publicity

 

 A Manual

 

Courtesy of

Weiland & Associates

8107 Pagels Drive

Grand Blanc, MI 48439

(810) 953-4181

 

www.weilandweb.com

 

Table of Contents

To the Reader

Public Relations and Publicity Notes

People

Building and Facilities

Products and Services

Public and Community Service

Additional Publicity Ideas

Working with Other Sources

Photographs

Tips on Writing a News Release

Sample News Release Format 

 

To the Reader

Even though it has been called the free media, public relations requires the investment of thought, time and energy. It can be done without the skills of a professional public relations agent. However, successful public relations activities need sound planning and execution by those who are sensitive to the process of communication. To achieve the full potential of its benefits for your organization, a public relations strategy should be institutionalized as an ongoing part of your promotional activities.

This manual is a checklist of public relations opportunities. It contains many ideas that can help you build your image through well-conceived publicity. It has been an accepted axiom of effective communication that it’s best to have someone else say something good about you. Publicity does this!

Keep in mind that public relations cannot take the place of good customer relations. But, coupled with a never-ending effort to satisfy customer needs, publicity serves to enhance the image of your organization in the minds of the public.

Research has consistently found that organizations with a well-defined, positive image need to spend less money advertising than those with a poor image. In fact, having a positive image is your single most valuable promotional asset. Credibility is the key that unlocks a powerful strategic advantage that can help you achieve a larger slice of market share.

 

A word of warning! Poorly executed, ill-conceived advertising, or poor customer treatment can quickly undo the positive impact of an otherwise imaginative and effective public relations strategy. A word of warning! Poorly executed, ill-conceived advertising, or poor customer treatment can quickly undo the positive impact of an otherwise imaginative and effective public relations strategy. A word of warning! Poorly executed, ill-conceived advertising, or poor customer treatment can quickly undo the positive impact of an otherwise imaginative and effective public relations strategy. A word of warning! Poorly executed, ill-conceived advertising, or poor customer treatment can quickly undo the positive impact of an otherwise imaginative and effective public relations strategy.

Douglas K. Weiland
Weiland & Associates

 

Public Relations and Publicity Notes

Public relations is doing something worthy of attention. Publicity is telling people about it. Good Publicity and public relations can help promote customer awareness and credibility for a firm and its image in the community.

News releases are good tools for generating positive publicity and they can be tailored to different audiences that you may want to reach. These include narrow groups, such as employees or attendees at particular meetings or conventions, as well as broader groups, such as those in the general marketplace.

The purpose of these notes is to suggest what you may be doing that is worthy of attention, and how to make the most of it.

When you are looking for newsworthy items think in terms of these categories:

People
Buildings and Facilities
Products and Services
Public and Community Service

 

People

Work-related as well as nonwork-related activities of your employees can be a source of news and feature material. Career progress, special recognition and worthwhile activities can all yield good publicity.

The following list of events and activities is provided to suggest sources of publicity:

Company elections of Officers and Directors.
Major executive changes.
Organizational changes – new services, methods, new job titles or new job responsibilities.
Appointments.
Awards recognizing:
Achievement
Contest or incentive program winners
Merit
Safety records
Service
Suggestions for operational improvement
Anniversaries of service milestones.
Honors from:
Educational institutions
Government organizations – local, state, national, other
Professional societies
Participation in:
Community activities
Political activities
Professional society activities
Retirements.
Employee speeches or presentations.
Sports sponsored by the company.
Unusual hobbies of personnel.
Distinguished visitors.
Deaths.

 

Buildings and Facilities

Business expansion is good news and offers many fertile publicity opportunities. The construction of a new facility, for example, contains the material for a long succession of good copy, including:

Original announcement of the planned expansion, perhaps when the new site is selected.
Unveiling of the architect’s rendering and explanation of the design.
Awarding of the contract.
Ground-breaking.
Progress reports as major portions of the project are completed.
Ribbon-cutting or grand opening.

A major project will command attention, but even a modest expansion can be used for some beneficial publicity.

Other newsworthy developments include:

Purchase of a site for expansion.
New construction (new buildings or additions).
Modernization of existing facilities.
Purchase of new facilities.
Acquisition of new company or product line.
Installation of new equipment.
Installation of new safety devices.
Installation of anti-pollution systems or techniques to better the environment.
Branching out into another community.
Celebration of the facility’s or organization’s anniversary.

 

Products and Services

Information about company products and services is often of interest to general circulation, business, or industry publications.

New product introductions.
New services available to customers.
New methods of better servicing customers.
Research findings regarding your market.
Distribution changes.
New sales records set.
Unusual shipments (largest, heaviest, fastest, millionth, first, last, etc.).
Use of the firm’s product or facilities on an eventful occasion (loaning a vehicle for a Presidential motorcade or scheduling a seminar at the firm, for example).
Industry recognition of achievement.
Special exhibits or displays utilized.

 

Public and Community Service

How is your organization, its principals, or employees contributing to the community and the industry to which it belongs? In addition to being good business, this kind of effort can make an interesting story.

Salute to the community by local businesses or organizations.
Sponsoring a career day for students.
Unveiling of a historical marker or commemorative plaque.
Awarding a scholarship, prize or honor.
Participation in, or contributions to, charitable events.
Sponsorship of the arts, etc..

Additional Publicity Ideas

You might consider planning special events to generate interest in your firm and its products. Open houses, tours and ceremonies can be staged to celebrate such occasions as:

Founding of the business. Public interest can be attracted to major milestones such as the 10th, 25th, or 50th anniversaries. Annual in-house celebrations could be considered, or an annual dinner or other get together for retired employees, or a Family Night.
Anniversary of the firm’s founding or significant service anniversary of a principal, officer or employee.
Anniversary of a product or method of service. Mark a company event, or an industry event, which is being celebrated generally.
Anniversary of the opening of a new or related facility.

The aforementioned sections on People, Buildings and Facilities, Products and Services can also be a source of occasions to mark in conjunction with anniversary events.

 

Working With Other Sources

Credibility is increased and news value is intensified when another reputable source is quoted in your new releases. For example, if a feature is written about your business in a national publication it may be viewed as newsworthy in your local papers.

When some important person or organization says something positive about your business it may be newsworthy, or create an occasion to stage an event. Remember, its always more effective when others say something good about you.

 

Photographs

A captioned photograph is often used instead of a story where space allows. Therefore, you should plan to send a photograph with a written caption along with a news release whenever possible. The weekly newspapers are especially likely to use pictures if they help tell the story and are of publishable quality.

 

Tips on Writing a News Release

  1. Write with the audience in mind. Why would the reader take an interest in the story? What benefit may they realize by attending to it? What vocabulary is appropriate for the reader?

  2. Write from an objective perspective as much as possible. Tell who, what, where, when, why and how. Avoid judgmental and opinionated remarks. Keep to the facts.

  3. Provide pictures as well as copy. Many weekly publications appreciate the opportunity to report news of general interest to the community and will carry your story as is, if well-written. Dailypapers will edit your material to fit spatial and editorial needs.

  4. Use an accepted news release format. Double space. Have someone named who may be contacted to respond to questions for the organization. (A suggested format is included in this manual on the following page for your assistance.).

  5. Be direct and to the point. Write no more than is required to tell the story.

  6. Have the first draft of the release critiqued. Let others review the draft for style, clarity, content, grammar, punctuation and tone.

  7. Maintain a current media list. Keep on file a comprehensive list of the media sources in your community. These should include the names of the news directors for radio and TV stations, general interest, or business reporters for the daily papers, and the reporters or editors of the local weekly papers. Update this information periodically to remain current.

 

Sample News Release

(to be typed on letterhead)

News Release

FOR RELEASE: Immediately.

CONTACT: Jim Smith, President (123)456-7890

SUBJECT: Smith Auto Sales Breaks Ground on Beautification Project

Smith Auto Sales broke ground today on an extensive landscaping and beautification project at the dealership’s Main Street location.

Dealership president, Jim Smith was joined by local civic leaders and city officials in scooping up the traditional ceremonial shovel full of earth to commemorate the start of construction on the project. This marks the beginning of a major beautification project which will include extensive landscaping, new signage and the addition of a new, decorative facing on the dealership’s showroom.

The project coincides with the 20th anniversary of the dealership’s founding on this site.

Commenting on the project, Jim Smith said, "This community has been good to me and to my business. When I heard that local officials were becoming concerned with the view along Main Street, I wanted to do my part to help."

Following the ground breaking ceremony, a luncheon was held at the All America restaurant where local community development officials stressed the need for further beautification.

 

(end)

 

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Last modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2002