Should you do your own PR? A guide to DIY PR in Digital Age.
Thursday, March 24th, 2016
DIY PR can work for your business – but it requires craft, guile and graft.
Welcome to Part 4 of our Guide to being a Digital Guru. This guide should help you to understand the media and PR for business in the modern age. This part focuses on DIY PR.
IT’S A GOLDEN age for any business intent on blowing its own trumpet.
Everyday tools we take for granted in today’s world mean virtually anyone can be their own public relations agency – thanks to the terrific trio of smartphones, software and social media.
With nothing more than the phone in your pocket, almost anyone could compose a story, search out the right contacts for journalists and bloggers, then instantly send it to the movers and shakers of the media world.
What’s more that same humble phone will shoot surprisingly high quality photos AND video, record decent standard of digital audio – and even let you edit them all on the go. And to top it all of your Apple, Android or Windows handset also makes it a piece of cake to upload all of those storytelling goodies to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram et al.
This perfect alignment of technology, ubiquity and convenience and opened up communications for business like never before. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should and the most successful businesses choose to have their public relations handled by experts.
However, for those keen to dabble in a bit of DIY of the PR variety, here are our top tips on how to go about it.
1 – WHAT’S THE STORY?
Here at Holyrood, we value stories above all else. And if you want to succeed at DIY PR then you’ll have to develop your news for nose in the same way.
Most people are amazed at just how many interesting stories we can dig out of their everyday work.
Unsurprising really, because it is difficult to see the wood for the trees when you are so deeply embedded in a business – exactly why the savviest businesses bring in outside experts to look over what they do with fresh eyes.
Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction on how to go about identifying potential stories:
- Look for anything that your colleagues would talk about outside of work or would rush home to tell their significant other.
- Prick up your ears when you hear anything with a potential popular culture link – maybe reflecting a storyline in EastEnders or a recent movie.
- Always set out to find stories that may inform, educate or entertain.
- Consider how any possible story could add value to your audience.
- Humanise your story whenever possible – think who could be affected
- Anything involving numbers, statistics and figures will often make a story
- Keep your eyes peeled for emerging trends and changing behaviours in your sector.
Always bear in mind that even once you have dug out what you think is a shoo-in of a story, you still have to persuade the media that it’s worth their attention. Get used to plenty of knockbacks and develop a thick skin.
With luck you might turn out to have a natural aptitude as a story finder. But remember most journalists, PR people and other story telling experts have spent years studying and honing their skills.
2 – WRITE THE STORY
Once you’ve sourced the story you’ve then got to write the story. The perception is that anyone who finished school can write – all you need is a phone, a tablet, a computer or even old-fashioned paper and pen.
Great news is that there are many other free online tools to help – and a quick web search will yield many examples of articles like this, which describe a host of aids for aspiring writers.
Here are a few of our recommendations:
- Buy yourself a copy of Waterhouse on Newspaper Style (by Keith Waterhouse).
- Check out Hemingway Editor – a clever little app that helps you make sure your sentences are well constructed.
- Use your trusty spellchecker (built into Word, other word processing software and even in email).
Armed with these tips you’ll be able to produce well written, carefully structured, grammatically correct copy that will sail into the news outlets of your choice, Right? Hmmm. Maybe not.
In fact, It’s not all about tapping out words in roughly the right order – for real success in DIY PR you’ll have to craft a tale that will get past the raft of writers, contributors and editors working on any bona fide media outlet.
Here’s the bad news. They get bombarded with literally thousands of potential stories every day. To catch their eye means passing high bar.
That involves combining the elements of the story in a fast and impactful way, blending quotes and narratives, ensuring it flows in the right way – all the way being mindful of that outlet’s particular style, deadlines and preferences.
The more you read and the more you keep crafting your own stories to match those media standards, the better and better you’ll get. But remember, it takes time.
3 – ENHANCE THE STORY?
You’ve identified the story you want to tell. You’ve carefully crafted the words for your media release, audio/video script or blog post. So, is that it then?
Potentially at this point you might be ready to go. But there’s a lot more to the best told stories – and in the torrent of the modern media there’s a lot more required to attract and hold an audience.
Website users are spoilt for choice with a host of rich media. They expect their stories to come with audio, video, graphics, hyperlinks or other support materials such as embedded Tweets or Instagram posts.
In this photo-obsessed era, there’s no doubt that the impressive quality of smartphone cameras has transformed the visual landscape. Many happy snappers are producing beautiful, quality images which would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago. Likewise, app stores are chockablock with simple-to-use mobile editing tools which can help make even a ropey images look passable.
It’s a similar story with video. New phones come out every couple of months with improved image stabilisation, higher resolution and better audio. And the power of the on-the-go editing software available on phones would have been breathtaking just five years ago.
Even news channels like Sky, STV and CNN are using mobile phone videos and real time video apps like Periscope to fill their bulletins – particularly on breaking news stories.
So, there are plenty of ways to get really clever and creative with both photos and video – but like everything else we’ve mentioned, be prepared to invest *a lot* of time. If you want decent results, the simple reality is that while this stuff is getting easier, doing it properly isn’t the same as doing it quick.
Of course, working with professionals takes away that time suck – and ensures smoother and more consistent results which means your photos and videos are more appealing to major news outlets and more likely to be used in other ways – like In your brochures, newsletters and websites.
4 – MEASURE THE IMPACT
You can sign up to any number of tools – both paid for and free – that will offer all sorts of metrics and insights, from follower counts to sentiment scoring.
But do you really know what all the buzzwords mean – and if not, do you really have the time to do the research to find out?
The truth is that PR measurement is really hard. Anyone can count media cuttings and mentions or log social media Likes, followers and engagements. But what does any of that really mean?
The best PR professionals start out by agreeing what the objectives are from the outset – then measure the progress towards those goals every step of the way. And those objectives will be different from client to client. In fact your own PR objectives might be different from project-to-project.
At Holyrood PR we pay attention to the Barcelona Principles and work on the basis that campaigns should measure the three Os – Outputs, Outtakes and Outcomes. That way we can prove to our clients that the PR is delivering more than just a fat cuttings book – but that it is also adding real value to the business bottom line.
There is a time and place for DIY and other times when you just want to call in the experts
If you’ve dabbled with DIY but feel you’re ready to put your public relations in the hands of trusted experts, then we’d love the chance to chat.
The team at Holyrood PR relish any opportunity to hear about the challenges facing your business and to outline some of the ways to overcome them with our public relations services, including social media strategies.
You can contact us at any time on 0131 561 2244 or fill out the simple form, below, and we’ll get straight back to you
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