The PR Guru

July 6, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 4:44 pm
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When it comes to PR, what puts a lot of people off is a perceived lack of good stories within their business.

It’s natural to think your everyday activities aren’t news-worthy, because they are exactly that – everyday activities. Why would anyone be interested in them?

That’s why companies tend to outsource PR – it takes another pair of eyes sometimes to point out that what you consider is everyday is actually unique and would interest the media.

Outsourcing doesn’t suit everyone though, so here are a few handy hints on how to uncover that newsworthy angle.

1. Speak to your staff: you would be surprised how many employers don’t know what their workforce is up to! By that we don’t mean what they’re up to at that specific moment! But if they are doing something for charity, for instance, you could get some publicity on the back of it.

2. Check your history: landmarks make good angles too, so if you’re approaching a significant birthday, or a milestone like your one millionth customer, tell your local editor or producer about it. Or have you broken records for production, or turnover?

3. Watch the news: newspapers and broadcasters have to use topical stories, so if there is something going on nationally which you can offer an alternative viewpoint on, let them know. The more controversial the better! Or can you connect your business with forthcoming events? A strong connection with the Olympics, Diamond Jubilee, or World Cup could generate plenty of column inches for you.

4. Know your industry: as if to reinforce the topical point, if there are any changes in legislation coming up which will affect your industry – for better or worse – or the people who use your services, contact the relevant people.

5. Recent successes: it’s time to shout about successes like winning new contracts and awards – but only if you can develop the story to demonstrate how they’ll affect your business. The media will want to know if you will be recruiting on the back of your contract win, for instance.

There are other options too, such as product launches, or collaborations with other companies (particularly if they are competitors of yours – someone people wouldn’t automatically expect you to work with), but the strongest tend to fall into one of those five categories.

And combining two or three of them will give you an even bigger chance of success. So if you won a contract for the Olympics, which allowed you to recruit more staff and smash your turnover record, you have a great – and potentially page-leading – story on your hands.

Hope that helps!




April 12, 2012


In my quieter moments I often think about the future of public relations and PR companies in general. Sad, I know, but true!

Unfortunately PR has got its claws into me now! It’s something I’m very passionate about, and something I want to still be around in 50+ years time.

The industry is facing a number of challenges at the moment, most notably the increasing competition for marketing spend, and the decline of the traditional media. But our biggest challenge is defining the term ‘public relations’ and showing it’s more than just getting your face in the paper.

This is something we’ve struggled with from Day One, something we’ve never really communicated to the public at large. If we don’t get to the bottom of this, PR could be increasingly marginalised in years to come.

PR needs to be more direct, more measurable.

While newspapers, magazines and other traditional media outlets will continue to downsize or disappear, the proliferation of the web and digital marketing will continue and this offers us an opportunity. It will enable us to generate coverage more quickly, in more titles than before, and have a greater impact on traffic to client websites.

As my colleague Dan Winchester says, we need to embrace search engine optimisation: “SEO is increasingly about building media and blog links, and driving social signals. PR companies are well-placed to be doing this. And getting your client to the top of Google could well be more valuable than conventional coverage.”

We must also develop our offering to communicate directly with our clients’ stakeholders, making greater use of social and new media, email and the good old telephone. Podcasting, viral gaming and film are all concepts we have to consider and add into the mix.

Miki Haines-Sanger, from Golden Goose PR, said: “A large part of our role is to rely on our ability to listen and interact with them in the same way that they talk to one another: through social media and networking. 

“Whether they are spending all their time on websites or forums however, or within family or community groups, people will still consume the news via instant news alerts, radio, tv and publications (print or digital) and we can’t forget that the voices that carry the news – whether it’s citizen journalists, columnists or news readers – need to be informed of relevant and non-commercial messages. 

“That is where PR shows its true value.” 

The beauty of PR is it’s subtlety, but that’s also it’s downfall. We must continue to embrace that, while also providing better value for money for our clients.

The only way we can do that is by continuing to evolve and demonstrating the impact of our campaigns more effectively.

I’ll leave the last word to Dave Morgan: “If you think it’s just about getting coverage in newspapers, then yep, maybe PR is dead because newspapers won’t be around forever.

“If you think it’s about enhancing the reputation of your client then nope, it’s probably not dead as long as there’s still some clients who care about their reputation.”

It’s going to be an interesting few years in the world of PR, that’s for sure.

Thanks to Dan, Miki and Dave for their contributions.

February 18, 2011

10 Reasons to use PR, part two

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 6:25 pm
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A couple of weeks ago we discussed the main reason for using PR to promote your business – namely it helps you spread your marketing investment.

There are plenty of other reasons though! In my opinion the second biggest reason for using public relations is this:


This is something we are all looking for in business. Getting another person to recommend you to someone else is the Holy Grail really, especially if the ‘someone else’ is a friend or family member.

That’s because the referrer is putting their reputation on the line by saying you are great at what you do, or your product is fantastic. If the opposite proved to be true, they would have egg on their face and their reputation would take a tiny little hit.

Social media has a big part to play here, and that’s why many businesses are cottoning on to the importance of sites like Facebook for generating word of mouth. If they can persuade other people to do the selling, for example by posting your video on their profile, or liking your business’ page, that’s half the battle and will save them a lot of money in the long run.

PR has a big role here though as well, with one major difference – rather than a person making the endorsement, it’s a newspaper, magazine, website or broadcaster. And for that reason, it carries A LOT of weight.

By having your story in a respected national newspaper, like The Times, or an interview broadcast on the BBC, or a feature in a leading industry magazine, you are gaining the stamp of approval from their editor or producer.

They are saying your story is so interesting, so ground-breaking and so relevant that they had to tell people about it by giving you airtime or space on their pages. They knew their readers, their listeners, their viewers would want to know about it.

And they have plenty to lose if their endorsement comes back to bite them. It’s bad enough to lose face with your family or friends – can you imagine what it would be like if that endorsement cost you sales or ratings? Ultimately it could cost people their jobs, or drive that media title out of existence.

So I would strongly recommend looking at raising your profile through PR – it could give you the best testimonial you’ve ever had.

February 3, 2011

10 Reasons to use PR, part one

Filed under: Uncategorized — richardswancott @ 1:08 pm
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There’s plenty of confusion about what public relations is and what it can do for a business. Most people seem to assume it’s about some Machiavellian character in the shadows, pulling the strings. Or it’s something a big company, local authority or Government department would do.

For that reason PR has a reputation as just being all about spin. While there is some merit in that argument – the aim of a PR campaign is to portray someone/something in a positive light – there is a difference between looking for the positive and massaging the facts/burying bad news, which the Blair/Brown Government was often guilty of.

The fact is, PR can work for any organisation – it doesn’t have to be one in the public sector, or with a massive budget. There are various reasons for this, which I’ll run through over the next few weeks, but first you have to promise me something.

I want you to promise me you won’t be cynical about PR. If you consider PR to be spin, it will not work for you. Keep an open mind, give it a try, and you will get the results you want. There are countless examples and famous endorsements which prove it.

Google and Facebook, for instance, have become massive international brands without spending a penny on advertising (or at least until very recently, in Google’s case). They concentrated on PR and word of mouth to build their reputation. And Google now has enough cash in the bank to pay off the UK’s budget deficit without blinking!

PR could bring you similar success.

Ok, if that was not reason enough to try it, let’s go into a bit more detail.

Here’s reason number one for using PR to promote your business.


Let me explain. Imagine you wanted to promote your business in five different trade magazines, which you have identified as the publications with the biggest circulations, and the best reputation in your industry.

If you were to advertise in all of them, you would have to pay for each magazine you went into. This could cost thousands of pounds – in trade mags the cost of a full page colour ad is usually between £2000 and £3000. So five adverts would, as a conservative estimate, cost you at least £2500.

PR would allow you to get into all of those magazines for free! The only cost involved would be your time, and a few phone calls. So it would save you over £2400, based on our example, which you could spend on other forms of marketing, plough back into the business, or just leave in your bank account.

Not bad eh?! 🙂

And that’s not the only reason! Come back next week for reason number two.

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