At  its core, public relations (PR) is about communication. Encompassing a wide range of activities, it’s the most effective way to deliver a specific message to the people most likely to respond.

Applying this definition to the Australian marine industry, the “people” most business operators would like to respond are customers – be they other businesses (if you’re a supplier/manufacturer) or general consumers (if you’re a retailer).

The “specific message” marine businesses generally want to deliver is why customers – both existing and prospective – should buy their particular product or service.

The power of PR to influence consumer behaviour is well proven the world over. Claimed by critics to be persuasive and manipulative, our view of PR as “promoting understanding” is arguably more balanced.

As the most effective form of mass communication – in regard to both key audience impact and cost – PR is the engine driving the world’s most successful businesses.

Maximising media exposure

While there are a myriad of innovative PR activities employed to communicate with target audiences, using the media remains the
most effective.

Advertising – traditionally used by many marine businesses as their sole means of promotion – is certainly important, although it should form just one component of a business’ marketing mix.

At the end of the day, $50,000 spent on advertising will generally secure $50,000 of space in the media.

In comparison, $50,000 invested in PR can result in many times that value in positive media exposure.

Harnessing the power of the media by distributing a media release to relevant media outlets is one of the most inexpensive ways to effectively deliver your message to the masses.

A concise, well-written media release, supplied in a readily-accessible format such as a Word document (preferably with your corporate logo in a prominent position, so it’s apparent who it’s from), will always be welcomed by journalists/editors. On the other hand, a three-page email that takes an hour to decipher and another hour to re-write (if it’s worth publishing) will rarely make it further than the time-pressed editor’s inbox.

Providing contact details for further information at the bottom of every media release is far more important than cramming in every tiny piece of information you think may be of interest. If the newsworthy angle of the media release isn’t immediately apparent, in most cases editors won’t even finish reading it before
hitting delete.

In that light, the key to writing a good media release is to structure it with the most important information at the beginning, with supporting information in following paragraphs – ordered according to relevance. Maximum information, minimum words. If editors want more, they’ll contact you for it.

The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” also rings very true in regard to supplying the media with information. Making available a selection of quality images (or footage) to accompany the media release will further assist in maximising your
media presence.

Securing quality editorial to support your advertising in marine media and scoring positive editorial space in mainstream media (thus, avoiding the expensive price tag) generally has a huge impact on those who read it. Consumers are well aware advertising space is paid for and, in today’s media savvy society, most usually take blatant advertised claims with a grain of salt. In contrast, these same consumers will readily take onboard information about your business if it’s published as a news article/snippet – often blissfully unaware what they’re reading stemmed from your media release.

Networking and contacts

The claim PR is all about networking and contacts, holds some truth. Moving in the right circles and having the right relationships with the right people are essential for success.

Sending out a media release, no matter how well-written it may be, doesn’t guarantee it will be published. Positive relationships with journalists/editors play a critical role in any form of PR activity that involves the media.

On your side, the media will prove a powerful ally. Against you, the media can be your worst enemy.

Take the time to establish genuine relationships with reputable media outlets – and maintain them. It’s quite common for positive professional associations to develop into lasting personal friendships, which can carry with it obvious benefits for your business.

Regular contact – but not annoying to the point of driving the media away – with journalists/editors can result in them calling on you for editorial comment in various articles, as well being given preference to supply filler material for their magazines, websites or newspapers.

An appreciation of the urgency under which media outlets operate, which will come about through your media relationships, will also assist you to improve the way in which you deliver your material. Ensuring a media release reaches the right person at the right time can make all the difference in your business making the front page or missing out completely.

Developing the right contact network to maximise your media exposure will take time and effort, but the benefits that flow will prove invaluable to growing your business.

Sandman Public Relations is a full-service media agency recognised for its integrity, professionalism and success.

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