March your way to effective PR – episode 1!

During March I’m going to be looking at PR in more depth. This is the result of various questions I’ve recently been asked over the last few months. I’ll share 13 tips in each blog, based on having run my own media consultancy for 13 years this year.

At the very heart of good ‘press relations’ there are two things – people and stories. Once you grasp that basic concept you can make a clear decision about whether or not ‘press’ or ‘media’ relations should form part of your overall PR plan.

I’m going to start the month by flagging up one way to find stories for your business, which is very common.

However, you’ll be surprised how many business owners, experts, charities or other organisations don’t think of it. 

This way of generating stories which are interesting, timely and topical is something us journalists call ‘news jacking’. Another term might be ‘piggy backing’. It means being part of something which is happening ‘out there’ in the world anyway and you are aligning it to your goals or business.

One big one coming up this month is International Women’s Day on March 8 – this movement which started way back, actually, is a day to celebrate women globally but also to highlight inequality or challenges faced by women the world over.

Here are 13 tips for using this ‘moment’ to support your business:

*If you are female or a male who wishes to support women in business – you can visit the official website and take a view if this year’s theme is one you want to get behind.

*You can write a news release about the successes of your business in regards to women in your team. It may be, the success of a single employee, some stats around your gender balance, or a profile of your newest female team member. Send it out locally as part of International Women’s Day 2021.

*Plan a social media campaign with the relevant hashtag #IWD2021 and celebrate, by name, the women in and around you in business that you admire. They could be women you know as business contacts, and they have impressed you.  They could be clients or suppliers, where you have been excited by what their creativity in business, their growth, or how they treat people.

*Hold your own event – albeit virtual – to mark the occasion. It could be a two-hour webinar with a donation to a relevant charity. You could share some information from your business, or invite someone to give a talk of interest – on ideas that resonates with either you or your business. If your business deals with something practical, maybe show a ‘how to video’, for example baking, with people paying a fee to log on – and you make a donation to a charity.

*Have a flash sale in your business, particularly if your products are often bought by women. Give them have a discount code as a celebration of the day. This is also a perfect time, because Mother’s Day is around the same time (March 14). Another flash sale opportunity?

*Write a blog supporting the aims of this year’s campaign – or you may wish to talk about why you don’t support the day. Be aware if you don’t support the day, because you could easily get a backlash of comments and vitriol. You do so at your own risk.

*Write a blog celebrating women who have inspired you – in business, in your sector, in your childhood, which women gave you a leg up on your particular journey?  What made them special? How did they inspire you particularly? What was the main thing you learnt from them?

*Ask your female contacts to replicate the ‘image’ of the year on their smartphones and share several on your social media throughout the day. (The ‘image style’ can be viewed on the IWD website).

*Do a one-day fundraising initiative to raise, for example, £100 for a relevant charity on that day. This can be done internally among a team, or externally on social media, or both. You could link this to any fitness regimes you have been doing during the last year, or bake cakes, or do something whacky…. Have fun as a team. There are plenty of ways you can do online things, or in your office, sensibly distancing!

*Do a social media campaign using this year’s tagline #choosetochallenge and ask each member of staff to give you a thought on the subject. Share them on your social media, along with an image of each staff member.

* Share some books written by female authors about your type of business, or encourage your staff to create an IWD book club, and suggest books to read during March, by female authors.  Take pictures of you all reading. Share the books on social media, and pictures of you all reading.

* Set up an opportunity to talk to any young girls wanting to join your profession to have a Q & A online conversation about their future career paths, perhaps offering some mentoring coming out of the event. Between you, you will probably have contacts with local secondary schools or even colleges.

* On the day plan events that can happen during the year. Discuss ways that your business can support a gender equality community project; in schools, or looking at young mums who want to get back to into business. Following on from lockdowns, when women in the workplace will possibly have less opportunities this might be something where a business can help people to consider their options.

 Next week episode 2 will ask  – ‘What is PR?’