PR made perfect

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The role of a PA has always been to multi-task and this can include getting involved in handling PR activities.

Follow Ann Pilkington’s practical advice and you’ll be media-savvy in no time.

What is PR?
Well, it isn’t all parties and lunches. It can include writing press releases, handling media enquiries and organising events and its aim is to build a good reputation so that people want to buy from you, work with you and to be associated with you. It does this by raising awareness of your organisation’s activities and developing good relationships with your staff, customers and other key stakeholders through open and transparent communication.
One of the key parts of PR is working with the media and providing them with information and stories that they will want to publish. This is often done using a news release, but what makes a good story? Below are some top tips drawn from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Foundation Award.
Is it newsworthy?
Something is most likely to be considered newsworthy by the media if it is relevant for the readership, is new or surprising, has a human interest angle or is topical.
Which media should I target?
This depends very much on your news and who you are trying to reach. If you are announcing a new client win, for example, it is most likely you will want to announce it in the trade press that is read by peers and clients – both existing and prospective. If you are opening a new office or recruiting, it could have again have relevance for your trade press and perhaps also for your local newspaper.
Get to know the relevant media
Read the publication, blog or website to whom you are sending the news release. Look at what sort of stories they carry. There is no point sending a release about a new client win, for example, if the media you are targeting doesn’t carry this type of article.
What format should the release take?
A good release has a strong but clear heading that leaves little doubt regarding its contents. It should carry the date of issue. The opening paragraph should tell your story ‘in a nutshell’ – the who, what, where, when, why and how. Check it does this by covering up all but the first paragraph to see if it contains everything you want the journalist to know.
Subsequent paragraphs should contain a further in-depth explanation of the story. Remember, a release should be factual, not promotional, so use descriptive words sparingly. Include quotes to support your story, remembering always to get sign off for them from the person they’re attributed to. At the bottom of your release include any necessary contact details, links to further information and a paragraph about your organisation and what it does.
Sometimes releases are embargoed, which means they are issued with instructions not to publish the content before a certain date or time. If you choose to use one, be very clear about what you are asking of the journalist so there is no confusion.
Ann Pilkington is the Director of PR Academy
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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson