It’s no secret that in order to effectively grow your product business you need to promote your products (and possibly yourself too). That’s why it’s useful to learn about the world of PR and how it can give your business, and product sales, a boost.
I spoke to Jessica Morgan, founder of Carnsight Communications, a PR and communications agency for small and creative businesses and people, to find out why and how to use PR to help customers find your products.
So what is PR?
In layman’s terms, PR stands for public relations. It’s how you get your products and business out into the public domain via the media. A PR agency’s role is to get your products noticed depending on your niche, your target audience, and/or your location with the aim to increase sales and brand awareness.
What are the benefits of PR?
Whilst marketing and PR work together sometimes, having a separate PR strategy is a key benefit to any product business. You’re not paying for ad placements but instead, you’re paying for someone’s time and expertise. Another benefit to PR is that smaller brands are not discriminated against. If a journalist likes your product then it doesn’t matter how small you are. Alongside these benefits, PR can also help you to hone down your messaging and help you define your product in a nutshell. (Which you can then repurpose into your own content).
Do you need a big budget to do well in PR?
Whilst having a budget can help with PR, it is down to your choice of what you spend your money on and being careful with. PR experts will be there to help you along the way if needed but you don’t necessarily have to have someone do it all for you.
What is the role of a PR agency?
Before you decide to have a chat with a PR professional, you might find it useful to know what their role will be in the process. Jess explains that the first step is to have an open chat to find out what you actually want from PR. You’ll go back to basics and discuss why you want PR help, what are you trying to achieve and who is your target audience? You might have target publications in mind or you might want them to guide you. After they have created a media list of journalists that might be interested you agree on an approach and message and possibly create a press release. After the media covers your products the PR professionals share this with you and, most importantly, share it on social media to gain even more interest.
How much time and effort should you put into your PR?
If you’re just starting to think about using PR to get your products seen then you also want to think about how much time and effort you’re going to put into this aspect of your business as we all know our time is valuable! Jess recommends having an open chat with an agency to discuss your product and any launches you have coming up and go from there. PR agencies know all about awareness days and can give guidance on when the right time would be to get something in the public domain. For example, if your product would be a great Valentines gift they would advise you to wait until then so that it’s more relevant. This will allow you to plan at the right time in the year to focus on your PR.
When should you start thinking about PR?
If you have a new product launch or business launch then it can be daunting to think about when you need to call in PR help but Jess recommends thinking about it sooner rather than later as you don’t want to give mixed messages. You also need to keep in mind that you should be fully ready on socials and your own website so that the messaging is consistent. If a journalist takes a look it needs to all corresponds and work well together.
Jess has also written her own blog post about this which you will find very helpful: https://www.carnsight.com/2019/12/02/do-you-need-pr-agency-to-launch-a-new-company/
How to get over your fear of PR
Although you know PR is important for your business, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t scared of being asked daunting questions or hate talking about yourself. To get over this fear, Jess recommends having a clear concise message from the start, being prepared, and being organised, which includes having answers to any difficult questions that might crop up.
What do journalists want to know about your products?
We’ve spoken about messaging and how important it is for PR but it is also equally important to think about your personal story and history. Something interesting which may not be the thing you are most proud of but it’s part of the journey. Journalists are very interested in the history of brands so it’s worth thinking about how you can tell your story in the most interesting way to grab their attention.
Is all PR good PR?
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘all PR is good PR’ but this isn’t necessarily true as even though you’re being seen it probably isn’t going to bring you sales. In this instance you can easily turn it around and relook at your practices and processes and then come back out and give the positive angle. When Jess speaks to a potential client she will ask if there is something they’re concerned about and if so then what are you doing to change this which in turn can only be good for your brand in the long run.
What do you need to have in place before you start thinking about PR?
A few top things Jess recommended that you have in place before you start even thinking about PR are:
- Your website – is everything perfect? Do your links work? Do you have typos?
- Invest in headshots and images of yourself and your team. Would you be happy to see your headshot in a publication?
- Make a clear list of contact details – who should be contacted if you are not free? If a journalist wants a comment tomorrow who is the best person to contact from your business? What times are you available to talk to journalists? This list will make it a lot easier for both parties.
- Social media – Check they all have the correct links and align with your website.
- Messaging – make sure your messaging is clear and you know what to say and what not to say.
How to get started in
Once you’ve had a brainstorm around your PR messaging and what you need, it’s a good time to talk to a PR professional. As mentioned above they’ll know the right awareness days and have the right contacts, but this isn’t to say you can’t do it yourself.
If you feel ready to approach the press on your own, Jess’s top tip is to have your elevator pitch ready. You need a couple of lines or phrases to sum up your product and get the journalist interested. Plus, what the interesting angle is for them – why should they cover you right now? If you want to be in the local press then make a list of these publications, as well as noting down what publications you see your competitors products in. Follow journalists online – Twitter is a good place to start – and while you’re there you can see what kind of things are being said and what certain journalists are interested in.
PR can be a huge driver in getting your products noticed so it’s worth investing time and even money into a strategy, whether this be a call with an agency like Carnsight Communications or a brainstorming session with your team, both will be beneficial.
If you’d like to speak with Jess you can find her at Carnsight Communications where she also shares her tips and tricks in the world of PR. If you have any questions then feel free to drop her an email – as she’d love to chat!