Hiring a PR firm can amplify the good work that your company is doing. Here are the important facts on public relations and what it takes to get the story out.
By Khalil Adis
Few people know that prior to being in the property industry, I was doing editorial and public relations work in the lifestyle industry (do check out our portfolio section here).
I don't blame them really as my property work is more prominent.
While my firm’s core business lies in editorial, social media, research and due diligence work, we do handle public relations for our clients who are primarily property developers.
Last year, however, we took on a client in the wellness industry to help them penetrate the Singapore market.
The challenge we faced was their product is relatively new to the region with very little public awareness save for social media marketing.
As such, it was very difficult to pitch the client’s story to the press as they are not the big brand cosmetics.
In fact, some had asked for the client to advertise in order for the editorial team to come down to ‘cover’ the press conference.
In the end, however, we did manage to garner S$12,000 worth of PR value for the client.
#1: PR value
A PR value is derived by calculating the advertisement value times three.
Why times three?
This is because an editorial is considered three times an ad value as the story is deemed newsworthy enough by the editorial team.
In this case, we managed to get an editorial exposure on an advertising space worth S$4,000 without the client having to spend a single cent.
In the field of journalism and public relations, this is the ideal outcome professionals would like to achieve.
#2: Not every news or corporate announcements are of public interest
We get it that your event is important to you and your company.
After all, you do need to sell an X number of products as part of your company’s bottom line.
However, those boardroom announcements on launching a new website are of little relevance to the public.
An exception, of course, is if you are a government body who is launching a new platform that allows the public to check for traffic/health/transport etc information online.
This was in fact how I spun the story for a Malaysian property developer when they launched a community safety application.
The challenge was the client requested to call for a press conference in less than a week.
In three days, I contacted the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), did up a community policing and safety fact sheet and arranged a press conference.
In the end, the client was very pleased as we had delivered a PR value of more than RM500,000.
The key winning formula here is the client gave us their 100 per cent confidence to do the work while keeping a hands-off approach when dealing with the media with a realistic expectation given the short work turnaround time.
#3 Be realistic
I always find myself having to tell my clients to be very realistic when they demand to be on the cover of every major newspaper in the country.
Before putting out your news announcement or hiring a PR agency, ask yourself, how is this relevant to the public?
The exception is of course if your company has discovered a cure for cancer backed by research.
As a newsmaker, you must always put yourself in the shoes of the reader.
Does your news scream “front page news”?
#4: Understand the 5Ws and 1H
When pitching your story to the press or hiring an agency to do this for you, it is imperative that you understand the 5Ws and 1H formula that journalists use in the newsroom to determine the newsworthiness of a story.
What are the 5Ws and 1H? They are the Who, Why, What, When, Where and How.
Who is involved?
Why did it happen?
When did it happen?
Where did it take place?
How did it happen?
Every day, the newsroom receives hundreds of media releases and invitations.
Why should your event be an exception?
#5: There is no guarantee on publicity
A public relations campaign takes time to build up especially if you do not have a sexy angle to sell to the press.
Most often than not, it is the soft skill that gets the story out like a good relationship with the press.
This can help to open doors.
While a story may not be suitable for this week, it will probably be of relevance to the journalist a few months down the road.
The key is to be consistent in your media engagement.
One PR practitioner’s pet peeve is when a client asks to guarantee a certain number of coverage in the media.
While we will endeavour to do our best, there are certain things that are beyond our control.
For instance, should a war break out in the region today, the story that the journalist had promised to cover this week will most likely be cancelled or postponed as the entire newsroom will be devoting their resources on this breaking news.
For clients that want guaranteed publicity, then taking up an advertising space (with the title: advertorial) or hiring a media buying agency is the way forward.
An independent analysis from yours truly