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Lessons in Public Relations —Sherburne

December 2006
ONE OF the most neglected, yet cost-effective, ways to market yourself is public relations. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) definition of public relations, “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

In your business, you have several “publics” that PR activities will help you address, including:

• customers/potential customers;

• employees/potential employees;

• the business community; and

• the media.

The key to public relations activities is to build awareness about your firm and what you can offer. The most-often considered tool in the PR toolbag is a press release. Perhaps you have hired a new salesperson, bought a new piece of equipment, or are launching a new product or service. Perhaps your company has been recognized by a customer as a preferred supplier, or an executive has earned an award or other public recognition.

Get the Word Out

Sending press releases to the local media, including your local business journal, is one way to get the word out. Including photos with the press release and placing follow-up calls to reporters and/or business editors will help your release stand out from the hundreds of others that hit the desks of media professionals. And identifying and building relationships with the key business reporters in your target publications is the next logical step to ensuring more coverage in the future.

But beyond press releases, there are many other ways to get your message out. You can hold face-to-face meetings, briefings and news announcement luncheons. You can work with the media to get interviews of company executives and key customers on interesting topics published. And don’t forget facility tours. Most local newspapers like to spotlight local businesses, and inviting business reporters for a facility tour may spark just such an article.

Special events, including road shows, awards ceremonies, trade shows, contests or open houses, can also be newsworthy and can gain your firm some ink in local media or trade publications.

Sir Speedy, of Naperville, IL, hosted an open house to unveil its new DI press, the first press of its type in the area. Not only was the CEO of the franchise organization there to support their efforts, but the mayor, local paper and local television station came as well. And, of course, customers and potential clients took part in the festivities, learning about new services they could take advantage of in the process.

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