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What’s the story, morning glory? – column inches and PR

January 25, 2011
England's Glory

England's Glory - in this case, the wonderfully-named HMS Devastation. PR creates its own glory but to be effective it must be consistent

PR in publishing is notoriously inefficient. In many cases it doesn’t work. In other cases, its a question of sending out press releases to as many people as possible and hoping for a bite. But PR is more sophisticated than that. But not that much more.

Talking with professionals in the PR field, I’ve put together a very brief structure for a typical PR plan. In many ways, this approach to PR is not too different to writing a brochure or doing an email campaign. In basic structure the plan goes like this:

  1. Who are we trying to reach?
  2. How are we trying to reach them?
  3. What are we going to tell them?
  4. When are we going to tell them?
  5. What does success look like?

The answer to these questions is the plan of action:

  1. Demographics – specifying the type of people you want to reach, what makes them tick, what is their match with your brand, what age are they, where do they live
  2. Media match – identifying the appropriate media which match the target demographics
  3. The message – what themes are you following, how does it match with corporate positioning and mission statements, what’s the appeal to the target demographics, why should the press print it/web talk about it, indeed – is there really a story?
  4. The release plan – what is happening when, where.
  5. Success in PR is measured by the old way of column inches of coverage, of advertising equivalence, of sales uplift, or brand recall

Now, many publishing companies make the mistake of making every release the story, without understanding that a story on its own is about as relevant as a rivet on a ship. It’s the ship itself which is the story. So, in constructing a PR plan, it makes sense to have a strategic PR plan (a business PR plan) around which smaller PR plans can be attached in order to generate consistency. Because businesses have positions and their outputs define their position.

In PR, as in marketing, as in social media, as in human relations, consistency is everything. For PR to work it needs to be credible, trusted and logical. PR is as much a trust agent as any other element of the marketing mix.

Which is why a PR plan must be so much more than just where to send the press releases.

Image: England’s Glory used to be made by Bryant and May but since the takeover by Swedish Match they are now made in Sweden. Ho hum…

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