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8 top tips on how to write a press release

Posted by on Jun 29, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

The PR Farm's 8 top tips on how to write the perfect press release

The PR Farm’s 8 top tips on how to write the perfect press release

 

 

Congratulations! You’ve found The PR Farm’s guide to writing a press release amongst the gazillions that already exist.

 

We’re not going to say that ours is any better than the rest (although it probably is), but we are going to keep it to what any finished press release should be: short and sweet.

 

  1. Is your story newsworthy?

 

No? Then don’t spend the time developing it – unless you’re happy with just preparing content for your website. If it’s not newsworthy, journalists are more likely to purge it than publish it.

 

Tips on determining whether it’s newsworthy or not are:

 

  • Is it new?
  • Is it the biggest, the best or a ‘world’s first’?
  • Is it different in anyway?
  • Would anyone outside of your business find it interesting?

 

If the answer’s yes, then read on.

 

  1. Know your media

 

Do you know what your target media write about? If not, find out. Writing something that mirrors content typically published by your target publications will increase the chances of your press release getting picked up.

 

  1. Make your headline count, and make it snappy

 

We all get a feeling for what an email is about just from the subject heading. Journalists are no different. If your headline doesn’t sing, it will find its way in the bin before they’ve read the opening paragraph. Spend time crafting that perfect headline – one that not only looks and sounds good, but also encapsulates the story the journalists are (hopefully) about to read.

 

  1. Make it top-heavy

 

Think of your opening paragraph as an ‘elevator pitch’. Get as many salient points in as quickly as possible so that you grab the journalist’s attention which, given how they receive hundreds of press releases each day, is limited.

 

  1. Be concise

 

Nobody wants to read unnecessary words. It takes time and makes the page look messy. Keep it short.

 

  1. Always add comment

 

Including comment from one of your senior representatives provides a human element to the story. Adding comment from your customer adds credibility. Just remember that when it comes to commenting in press releases, two’s company, three’s a crowd.

 

  1. Your opinion isn’t welcome

 

Don’t editorialise. Stick to the facts. Journalists don’t want to hear your opinion – they just want the details. Explaining how good you think something is in your press release is a surefire way of getting them to press ‘delete’.

 

  1. One size doesn’t always fit all

 

So, you’re confident that you’ve prepared a well-sculpted, killer press release. Before it goes out, ask yourself whether or not the same version will appeal to ALL those on your target media list? Don’t forget, even media titles covering the same sector have different priorities and areas they focus on. And that’s before you’ve considered media from other sectors that you’re also looking to target.

 

Be prepared to ‘top and tailor’ your press release, creating multiple slightly different versions, so that the story appeals to the widest net of journalists possible. It might mean subtle tweaks to the language; it could mean changing the headline to something more relevant/eye-catching for one particular title. It may even mean re-structuring the piece so that points further down in your original press release are moved further towards the top.

 

Be flexible and don’t think that one ‘standard size’ press release will work wonders for everyone. Do your homework, know what your media write about and be prepared to make multiple versions of the same press release.

 

If you’d still rather get someone else to do it – or if you need a PR agency to create or support your communications programme – then call The PR Farm on 01483 892301 or email growingbusiness@theprfarm.com.

New vlogging guidelines issued

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Video bloggers, or ‘vloggers’, have been working successfully with brands for several years. The relationship works as vloggers offer brands a platform on which to promote their products to a large online audience, and vloggers are able to benefit commercially as a result.

There are no rules against these commercial relationships; they are perfectly acceptable. Where caution does need to be taken is with regard to disclosing these relationships to viewers.

A high profile blogger recommending a product carries a lot of clout, so consumers need to be clear as to whether the product is being endorsed simply because it is one the vlogger likes and wants to tell people about it, or that they are mentioning it because they have received some form of compensation in return. Not to disclose this relationship is misleading and goes against consumer protection legislation.

New guidelines issued this week by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) are designed to help vloggers understand how the advertising rules apply to them and how they can ensure they are able to accurately disclose the nature of any commercial relationship they have with brands.

The type of disclosure required will vary depending on the level of control the brand has had over the content. If the content of the video is entirely controlled by the brand and not the blogger, and has been produced in return for a cash payment or other incentive it needs to be labelled up front as an advertisement feature.

In cases where bloggers have been given products for free by a brand, which they then go on to feature on their channels, it is expected that the vlogger will tell the audience that they were given the product to talk about.

Vloggers and brands looking to work with them are advised to read through the full list of CAP guidelines so they understand the type of disclosure relevant in each case.

The guidelines will help vloggers be transparent in their relationship with brands and ensure consumers are not being misled.

How to handle a PR crisis

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

In business things go wrong and mistakes happen. Occasionally things can escalate to the stage where you have a full-blown PR crisis on your hands and your reputation is under threat. At this point, fast action is needed to ensure the situation is brought under control and managed.

A PR crisis doesn’t necessarily have to cause untold damage to a business’s reputation. In fact, it’s often a business’s response to a crisis that makes or breaks its reputation. Importantly, you only get one chance to get it right so here are a couple of points to consider.

Be prepared

When a PR crisis creeps up and you’re caught off-guard the pressure is on. The simple way to avoid finding yourself in the eye of the storm without knowing how to respond – or without having the time to read the situation correctly – is to prepare as much as you can in advance.

Preparation doesn’t just mean having a crisis communications plan it place. It means knowing enough about the internal and external factors affecting the business to anticipate problems well in advance so that you can lessen any potential damage – or help avoid it completely.

Take time out to consider what is on the horizon that could impact your business. Is there a report due to be released about your company – or your industry – that could be damaging? Is there an impending legislation change? Is it likely that you might need to recall a product in the near future? Has your key competitor gone on the offensive at your expense?

All of these factors, which aren’t out of the ordinary, can be planned for. Whether you have a pre-prepared Q&A, a briefing document or flow diagram listing possible responses to possible scenarios, then you’ll be one step ahead long before a crisis hits.

Monitor public opinion

Keeping an eye on what the public is saying about your business as part of your on-going reputation management programme will help you spot any early signs of trouble.

You’re not in a position to respond to a crisis if you are unaware it is happening or if you fail to understand what public sentiment is or what it was prior to the event, so making sure you monitor the conversation on an ongoing basis will pay dividends long term. When it comes to a crisis, public perception is everything.

Have a crisis management plan in place

From pre-planned flow diagrams and anticipated responses and actions through to establishing who the company spokesperson is in the event of a crisis, there is a huge amount that can be prepared in advance.

Refamiliarise yourself with your business’s key messages, arrange quarterly ‘run-throughs’ in which crisis scenarios are played out. Is your spokesperson the right person to be fronting the media? If so, have they been adequately media-trained. If not, make sure the right person is identified, briefed and fully trained at the earliest opportunity.

Whilst you can never fully anticipate a crisis, you can ensure that the key representatives are fully briefed and that they are able to enter a pressured environment in as calm a manner as possible.

Keep employees informed

Ensure information about the problem and the official response is communicated internally, and that staff know how to respond if approached by the media. In order to control the message businesses should limit the number of spokespeople – ideally to one. Employees also need to be briefed on where to direct any journalists hungry for comment or access to the bigger picture. More importantly, they need to be briefed on what not to say. A simple ‘no comment’ to a journalist will only add fuel to the fire and can easily be avoided by taking the question or enquiry and promising to get back to them with a response within an agreed time frame.

Debrief

Once the dust has settled take time to reflect on the way the crisis was handled – what went well, what could have been done differently and what lessons can be learnt for next time. After all, if it’s happened once, it could happen again.

Tips for hosting a successful blogger event

Posted by on Aug 3, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Blogger events have grown in popularity in recent years and offer brands the benefit of meeting bloggers face to face rather than relying on emails and tweets. Events give you the opportunity to showcase your products and services, answer any questions bloggers may have, and get them excited about your business. Tweets and blogs written about the event also help increase your online exposure. 

Blogger events do take a great deal of organising. Based on our experience, here are some tips for getting it right.

Be upfront about what you’re offering and what you expect in return

When inviting bloggers it doesn’t help to be vague about the event’s itinerary. Give them enough information to make an informed decision about attending. If travel and childcare are involved they’ll want to know what they are signing up for before making arrangements. Attending the event needs to be worth their while so explain who you are and what the day will involve.

Many brands will be hoping that bloggers write about their brands on their blogs after the event. Rather than hoping, or expecting, the bloggers to write about the event, be upfront about what you would like from them. That way they know what they are agreeing to when they accept your invitation, the client is not left feeling disappointed when they don’t get the exposure they want, and the blogger is not left feeling frustrated when they are chased up for blog posts they were unaware they needed to write.

Create a hashtag for the event

Bloggers are prolific on social media so create a hashtag they can use on Twitter before, during and after the event. It’s a great way of gaining further exposure and generating conversation about your business online. It also helps bloggers see who else is attending the event and those not attending can follow the hashtag and be part of the conversation. Don’t create a hashtag that is too long for Twitter, one that can easily be misspelt or misread, or one that another brand is already using. .

Cover travel expenses

Bloggers don’t work for a company who can cover their costs so the ideal scenario is to offer to cover travel expenses (although politely point out that you are covering standard class train travel not first class!). Not doing so limits you to inviting bloggers within easy reach of the venue, which might prevent you getting all the bloggers there you really want. Holding an event closer to lunchtime can avoid you having to pay out peak fares.

Communicate your key messages

Perhaps more important than anything else is ensuring you get the right messages across about your brand, so structure the day to ensure you cover all the points you need to get across about your product or service and allow yourself enough time at the end of the day to respond to questions and gain valuable feedback from your bloggers.

Remember the little details

It can make a real difference to a blogger, and create a very positive impression, when it’s obvious you’ve given careful thought to their individual circumstances. This includes, for example, checking dietary requirements ahead of the event and ensuring any special meals are provided, even if this means speaking to the chef personally or going out and buying the food yourself.

Provide a thank you gift

Everyone likes a thank you so giving each blogger a goodie bag as they leave is a nice touch. Make sure the contents are something they’ll appreciate and avoid anything that’s too heavy for them to carry around for the rest of the day.

Don’t forget to include some marketing materials about your brand in the goodie bag to remind the bloggers of your key messages once they have returned home. Images and logos can be included on a USB stick or emailed after the event.

Keep in touch

Many bloggers will be interested in hearing from you again, particularly if they liked your brand, so keep in touch with them on an intermittent basis and keep the relationship going. Follow them on Twitter and keep in touch by email if you’ve got updates they will be genuinely interested in. Involve them in future events and promotional activities and ask them how they would like to continue working with you. Many could become your best ambassadors.

Getting started with Periscope for business

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

If you’ve spent time on Twitter recently you’ll no doubt have started to see mentions of Periscope in your timeline.  If you’re wondering what it is, it’s an app, owned by Twitter, that allows you to broadcast a live video feed directly from your mobile phone.

Periscope allows you to see the world through someone else’s eyes, as it is happening, right now. You can take a walk through an Amsterdam flower market, watch the sunset over Paris, view Central Park from a New York skyscraper or watch a band play a live set on stage. The opportunities are endless. If it’s happening right now you can broadcast it to the world with the click of a button (and a reliable internet connection).

Available on both IOS and Android, the app is easy to download and set up. Simply sign up using your Twitter account (or using a mobile phone number). Periscope then makes it easy to find accounts to follow by suggesting people you are already following on Twitter. Or you can use its inbuilt search function.

Once you’re all set up you’re ready to broadcast live from wherever you are in the world. The app’s global map allows you to see who else is broadcasting and their locations so you can tune in and watch live.

You can leave comments on live broadcasts and show their appreciation by tapping on the screen, which sends out hearts, similar to a Facebook like except you aren’t restricted to leaving just one.

Opportunities for businesses

Periscope allows businesses to connect directly with your audience in real time, in a genuine, authentic and unedited way. For brands it provides an excellent opportunity to show the human side of your business. You could, for example:

  • Take viewers on a behind the scenes tour of your business
  • Introduce your staff
  • Broadcast conferences and training sessions as they happen
  • Announce new products and product updates live
  • Hold Q & A sessions with products designers or senior staff
  • Gather real-time feedback on aspects of your business
  • Respond to customer complaints and customer service issues.

Tips for getting started

Follow some of the experts and learn from their daily scopes. There are various users worth following including Mark Shaw and Laura Husson who regularly offer viewers tips and tricks, provide updates on the platform and advice on who to follow.

  1. Play around with the platform and get used to it before you start scoping regularly, so you become comfortable with how it works.
  2. Sign up with your Twitter account, rather than using a phone number, if you have one as Periscope allows you to connect with your Twitter followers.
  3. The platform will notify Twitter when your broadcast goes live. This is a great way of ensuring your audience knows you are broadcasting, but you might want to turn this notification off while you are getting used to the platform and not quite ready for the world to watch.

While Twitter lets us see updates from around the world in real time, the addition of Periscope now takes that one stage further allowing us to see and hear what’s happening in the world, as if we were standing in someone else’s shoes viewing it with them.

For innovative businesses prepared to open up their doors through the power of live video broadcasting, Periscope offers a great opportunity to connect with you customers and extend your reach and visibility even further, at the same time gaining valuable feedback that can be responded to immediately.

How to reach out to bloggers

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The concept of blogger outreach isn’t new. Many brands have been working with bloggers for years, valuing the contribution they can make to their campaigns. You’ll find bloggers on press trips, at product launches and even fronting television adverts.

Bloggers typically write with passion about a particular niche from fashion to travel, politics to parenting and more. Their voices are authentic, their online followings large and loyal. They update their sites regularly with good quality content, which means they rank well on Google.

It is not surprising, then, that bloggers are attractive to brands. But before you start sending out emails it’s worth considering the following:

The importance of research

There are thousands of bloggers out there so take time to research the market to find bloggers that are a good fit for your brand. Read their blogs; identify the topics they write about and the tone and style of their writing.

Check out the blogger’s ‘About’ page to see if they like to work with brands and to find out more about them. Inviting mummy bloggers to an event about your new brand of pushchair won’t be effective if they have teenage children.

Research their social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. Many will have a presence across multiple channels. Their online exposure extends far beyond their blog.

The initial approach

Many bloggers will receive hundreds of emails from brands each day. Take time to make sure your offering stands out from the crowd and is interesting and relevant to the blogger you’re contacting.

Don’t expect bloggers to write about your brand for free. Appreciate that writing a blog post, sourcing images and uploading content takes time, which should be compensated for in some way.

Don’t send an email saying you love their blog if you haven’t read it. It doesn’t sound authentic and will no doubt look identical to many of the other emails bloggers receive.

Tailor your email to the specific blogger. Address them by name if it’s provided on their about page.

Be upfront about what you are looking for. If you’re inviting bloggers to an event because you want them to write about the brand on their site, say so upfront. Don’t email after the event requesting the post if that wasn’t agreed in advance.

Respect bloggers’ time and skills

Don’t tell bloggers what to write. The benefit of working with bloggers is that their voices are authentic and they have earned a level of trust with their readers. Once you’ve done your research and onboarded your bloggers, trust them to get on with it.

Note that bloggers have other commitments. Many have full time jobs and childcare commitments. Very few can drop everything and attend a blogger event at a day’s notice.

Thank bloggers for working with you and nurture the relationship. Many bloggers like building relationships with brands and if you build up a database of bloggers you can reply on, you can call on them again in future.

Blogger outreach can be time consuming, but get it right and the rewards are worth it. Your brand can get a degree of online exposure that’s more authentic than a paid advertisement with a message that’s targeted directly to your target market.

Google’s mobile-friendly search algorithm

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

With more of us searching the Internet on our smartphones rather than on desktops, it was only a matter of time before Google rolled out a mobile-friendly algorithm. In a nutshell, websites that are mobile-friendly rank more highly in mobile search rankings than those that aren’t.

The introduction of the new algorithm means Google is incentivising businesses to make their websites mobile friendly, if they haven’t already. That might require more investment in your website, but if people are increasingly searching for your business on mobile, it makes sense that you’ll want to be discovered there.

But it isn’t just Google that likes mobile-friendly websites. Sites can’t easily be read on mobiles are frustrating for all of us. Text is typically too small to read, links appear too close together and are difficult to accurately click, and the content is wider than the screen, meaning we have to scroll sideways or zoom in.

Often the result is that we click away and find a more readable site instead, possibly a competitor. If that is your business, you’re losing potential customers.

Google won’t remove your site from search results if your site isn’t mobile friendly. But if you’ve spent time building up your search ranking by carefully crafting content for your site to keep it fresh, and by undertaking keyword research to establish the words and phrases you need to be targeting both onsite and off, you won’t want to see the positive results of those efforts wasted.

The trend continues to move from desktop to mobile as we increasingly live our lives through our smartphones. So if you’re a business it makes sense to start planning ahead and to make the switch to a mobile-friendly website sooner rather than later.

To find out if your current site is mobile friendly take Google’s mobile friendly test here. If you’re looking to grow your business either online or off, get in touch with The PR Farm.

We know how Father Christmas feels…

Posted by on Nov 27, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Admittedly, we don’t have the responsibility of making and preparing toys and gifts for billions of people around the world, but we are are getting busier and busier in the lead up to the big day.

So, we thought we’d give a Christmas gift to ourselves… in the form of a new person. Not just someone who’s available for one month of the year, but the whole year.

Yes, we’re hiring.

Apart from being awesome, the right person needs to be able to write (and ideally have a background in PR, too). Experience of dealing with the media is preferable, as is experience of managing social media campaigns. Above all, the right person needs to be a good fit.

Is that you? If so, and you’re interested in working at The PR Farm – a PR and marketing agency in Surrey –  then get in touch on 01483 892301 or email growingbusiness@theprfarm.com.

We love winning awards… even when they’re for our clients

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Yes, last night we won our property clients the Award for Best Marketing and Presentation at the 2014 Surrey Property Awards. Not only that, but it’s the second consecutive year that we’ve won it for them, too.

Estate agents are property marketing professionals and there’s nothing that says ‘we’re good at what we do’ more than winning the best marketing award. After all, that’s what estate agents do, so being the best in your field goes a long way.

Take a peek at our ‘Seven Days of Seymours’ blog posts to get an idea of what we’ve done – and continue to do – for Seymours.

In the meantime, we’re going to pat ourselves on the back, enjoy (another) well-earned drink and get ready for the raft of briefs from those across Surrey’s property industry!

Christmas is here… (almost)

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Not long now.

In fact, we’ve just finalised Seymours’ Christmas PR and marketing campaign, which will launch the first week in November.

The idea is simple: youngsters throughout Surrey are being asking to design the Seymours 2014 Christmas card. The winning entrant will see their design on the front cover of Seymours’ official Christmas card and sent to people throughout Surrey. They will also win an iPad mini and £1,000 for their school.

Not bad, eh.

For those with a flair for all things arty get your pens and paints at the ready!

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