The Why and How of PR for chief executives and busy professionals

By Boni Sones

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12. Useful Web addresses and chief executive 55 point action list - directory of television stations, radio and newspapers throughout the UK - directory of all television stations throughout the UK - link to all websites of radio stations in the UK - takes you to all BBC local radio stations in the UK - comprehensive list of most newspapers in the UK - free online guides will advice you how to handle the media and the Trust provides training for you and your staff at a reasonable rate - lists all MPs and Lords with news updates. You can subscribe to micro sites on it - Parliaments own website that lists all MPs, Lords, Westminster committees, all party parliamentary groups, government publications and Bills before Parliament. It also takes you to individual websites of MPs and Lords.

  • Subscription services - produces Mediadisk at £2,500 yearly – daily updates of media contacts very comprehensive - PR organiser at £2,500 yearly – daily updates of media contacts or P18 - £800 quarterly updates

Guardian Media Guide from bookshops £15 – all media listed in UK.

DOD’S Parliamentary Companion 2003 – lists all MPs, Lords and more - £150 - subscription service - subscription service on line media training, print, radio TV and how to link with MPs. £500 per person use with discount for small, medium, large organisations.

Don’t forget to look at the individual websites of other charities and voluntary organisations. Search engines should help you find them.

County and district councils, health authorities, helper agencies and government departments also exist online. You can find out what services they offer and who’s who from an online trawl.

Celebrities have their own websites too with agent contact details.

CEs action list:

1. Action: Make sure you set aside time in your diary to talk to those external to your organisation. Remember what they say about you. Think about setting up an external focus group to advise you.

2. Action: Make sure that you go and see at least one news editor locally or a journalist who covers your specialist interest.

3. Action: Write out your six key messages and involve others.

4. Action: Find out what other events are planned for the time of your launch. Will it clash with anything else?

5. Action: Plan your lead-in times for your campaign and list who else you need to involve.

6. Action: Make those who work for you feel good – tell others about what you are doing.

7. Action: Think what information you can give to the general public that will genuinely help to enable your service users. Do not take for granted that they will know it already.

8. Action: Be inclusive think through what need others have and devise a strategy as to how you are going to communicate with them in a way they will understand.

9. Action: Read your local papers, paid for and free sheets. Listen to local radio, watch local TV, get a feel for the media around you and what type of information it puts across to its audience when.

10. Action: Get to know your local MPs, find out what events they are likely to be going to and try to meet them.

11. Action: Local partnerships are vital to your work, send an email, write a newsletter to tell others what you are doing.

12. Action: Ensure that internally and externally you acknowledge the work of your funders. Good media headlines will impress them. Find out how you can work with them to achieve this. What are their expectations of you?

13. Action: Give your PR department a target. Tell them you expect to see so many print articles a month, or that you expect to do so many radio interviews too. Impress on them the importance of attempting local TV coverage such as the “and finally” on regional TV news bulletins.

14. Action: Ensure you plan regular meetings with your PR staff and talk to them on a weekly basis. Pencil in a monthly communication seminar with your staff.

15. Action: Use your local strategic partnerships to get some good advice on PR. Find out what you should say to who and which local journalists are good to deal with.

16. Action: Start making a diary of your week, list what you do, and plan how you are going to tell others of the real achievements and difficulties that are being encountered. Display relevant information on notice boards

17. Action: Circulate an A4 sheet to all staff and volunteers in all offices telling them press calls should be referred to you or the PR team and give some helpful hints of how they should deal with journalists. Ask them for their ideas for good stories and keep a list of these for all to see.

18. Action: Devise a strategy for the retrieval of information in your organisation. Make someone responsible for giving it to you on a regular basis.

19. Action: Consider how you come across to others. How do others perceive you? How do you dress, what do you look like, do you have real authority? Remember doing too much can make it appear that you are not in control.

20. Action: Find out what media courses your local strategic partnerships are signing up to. Compare the cost of one with the other. Go on personal recommendation from others.

21. Action: Set aside resources to ensure that you receive professional media training in the year ahead. Accept the advice you are given.

22. Action: Offer yourself up to local radio programme for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon interviews. You can do it, take that first stride into the radio studio but ensure you know what you want to say and on what terms the interview is being conducted. Ask questions – it’s your right.

23. Action: Think through your communication policies. At what stage will you need to write a communication strategy and why?

24. Action: Talk to those who deal with communication find out what their frustrations and difficulties are before moving forward. Do their skills need to be improved? Are their mailing lists kept up to date, who monitors press coverage?

25. Action: Talk to your staff. Find out what difficulties they have convincing others that your stories are newsworthy. Be creative and build up your story bank of real life case studies. Write your PR plan.

26. Action: Get someone to research some of those human interest stories your volunteers and staff are talking about. Should you publicise them, will those affected give their permission, and how can you protect them from unwanted intrusion? Make this part of your PR plan.

27. Action: List how often you have spoken to the media this year. Set yourself a realistic target for interviews and invite some journalists in to meet you.

28. Action: Make a list of all the positive benefits of good PR and how it can help your organisation to grow. Find out what others think and involve your board members and use their experiences.

29. Action: Write a “proactive” press release – get to know how you go about this and what comments will stand out and make good headlines. Make sure it contains: “Why? What? Who? Where? When? and How?”. It should have a direct quote from you, be one side of A4, and have a contact number. Once you written it you will be able to judge more effectively how well others are performing this role.

30. Action: Talk to your press team about their “reactive” PR strategy. Keep your mobile phone on, tell them you are willing to come out of meetings to talk to journalists. Ensure that you know in draft form the “lines” you are all going to take on this.

31. Action: Listen to some local radio and TV programmes. Which do you think are the best, what type of audience do they appeal to? Be aware of what the media is saying around you.

32. Action: Media Guardian on a Monday publishes circulation figures for the nationals regularly. Look up how many people read the nationals and how well the tabloids do in comparison with the broadsheets. Which is the best performing broadsheet, which is the worst performing tabloid?

33. Action: To create a good story you need a number of different ingredients. The most important of which is not always fame or celebrity but strong emotional human interest and topicality. A government minister won’t ensure the success of your story but a story that we can all identify with told by someone affected by it will – find one!

34. Action: Write a quote for yourself and ask yourself “what kind of headline would it make?”. Try writing it again but making it more topical. The headline should reflect the words in your quote.

35. Action: Log into the Web and go to another charity or voluntary groups site. Look at how they write press releases and portray case study material generally. Can you learn from what they are doing?

36. Action: Listen to your local radio breakfast show and find out how long each guest is interviewed for. Listen to the 9 am bulletin, time how long each “clip” from each interviewee is. Impress on yourself the importance of being able to articulate an argument to these restraints. It is no good complaining after the interview is over, you need to get to know how it works before you begin.

37. Action: Think of how research can help you. What is it you need to be able to tell others about what you are doing? How much demand goes unmet? Find out what research has been done in your field and build on this.

38. Action: Shut your eyes and think of how your organisation can communicate visually. What is it that stands out in your visual imagination? Be creative work at creating good pictures that will make your messages stand out.

39. Action: Find out the name of a celebrity that lives near your HQ and go to their website to find out how you contact them.

40. Action: Name one journal that you should be reading? Ask others what they read and pick out the name of a journalist whose work you like. Don’t forget you can reply to what others say and write a letter to the editor if you agree or disagree.

41. Action: Identify a national journalist who works in your field of expertise. Read their articles regularly and email to tell them if you agree or disagree and why. Build up your confidence with the media generally. Be prepared for what you say to be quoted.

42. Action: Plan an event that you can invite a local journalist to speak at or launch. Why not instigate your own local question time on your issue with three or four known personalities including journalists.

43. Action: Research who is likely to want to join with you in launching your new campaign. Who is going to support what you say and who will oppose it? What evidence do you have to support your views?

44. Action: Find out how you contact the partnerships that matter to you and who convenes the meetings.

45. Action: Look at the website and marketing material of other local organisations. Which design appeals to you, who do you think is communicating effectively? Find out who they have used and invite them in to meet you.

46. Action: You local business or charity networks should be able to help you find a good reliable local PR agency. Find out who their clients are and how they have helped others.

47. Action: Find out what approach suits your organisation best. Is there somebody you can ask onto your Board who has PR experience they can share with you? Are there any retired journalists or PR executives locally who could advise you?

48. Action: Who can you turn to for help with the media? Are other professionals willing to share their experiences with you? Your media trainer can often help you both in and out of the training situation.

49. Action: Find out who can cover for media calls when and produce a list of out of hours phone numbers for these staff. Be prepared to get an agency to help you if you are expecting a lot of calls.

50. Action: Think where your organisation will be in one years time, what will you have achieved and what will you want to happen next? Write down the messages that you want to convey now to get you to that point.

51. Action: Think about the personality of the person you want to appoint and the skills they will need to do the job effectively. Write these competencies down in a list.

52. Action: Think of one of your network of contacts who has been through a rough ride with the media. Ask if you can meet them to pass on some tips to you in how to handle your media calls.

53. Action: Write down the six bullet point messages that you want to convey. Practice talking out loud and saying these to others.

54. Action: Write down ten questions that a journalist may ask you and then ten questions your own staff and volunteers may ask you. Answer the questions and use them to tell others what you think and what they should say.

55. Action: See if your PR plan answers the basic of what you are doing, why and when – it may only be two sides of A4 but it will help.


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