When Youíre Suddenly Wearing the PR Hat
Have you been tasked with handling your associationís public
relations? Here are the basics to get you started.
By Zach Wilson
Public relations professionals use a strategic communication
process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and
their publics, according to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The
PRSAís definition drives home the importance of building and maintaining
relationships between an organization and its public, as well as the organization
and the media.
If you are handling your associationís public relations, you
must learn to effectively leverage the use of these three PR tools ó the press
release, the media alert, and the pitch ó to create mutually beneficial
relationships with your audience and the media.
1. Press releases. The press release is definitely one of
the best weapons of choice for getting news out about an organization. A press release
is a perfect way to outline a newsworthy event with enough detail and
engagement for a variety of readers. Typically one page long, a press release
outlines the key takeaways for an event, news story, etc.
While many use their own format, these components should be
included in each press release:
- Make a conscious effort to hook your audience in within the
first few sentences. Other organizations ó many with their own PR professionals
ó are looking for the same exposure as you. Media members are likely reading
dozens of press releases each day, and only the most engaging ones will garner
- A strong title seems like a given, but itís an often
over-looked component of an effective press release. Itís the first thing
readers will see, so youíll need to make sure the title is engaging and
informative enough so the reader has a sense of what the rest of the content
will be about. Once youíve caught the readerís attention with an informative
title and engaging hook, the body of the press release with the key information
is followed by your associationís boiler-plate statement.
2. Media alerts. When you strip away some of the additional
descriptions and information that goes with a press release, youíre left with
something that resembles a media alert. Media alerts provide only the most
pertinent information: who, what, where, when, and why. For example, the condensed
format of a media alert is an excellent way for your association to encourage
the local news or prospective attendees to join your event.
You can send a media alert to your own media list via email
or text, or put it out on a newswire service for a much broader exposure.
3. Pitches. Before ever being able to secure the media coverage
youíre looking for, youíll need to create a pitch for your media list. The
pitch highlights what news youíre attempting to break and why itís relevant for
the respective media member and their readership. Relevancy canít be
understated, as media members have their own niche they report within, and
anything sent to them outside of this niche will be ignored.
It might seem counterintuitive that we discussed the pitch
last, when that seems like the first step. However, donít start making pitches
until you have your press release primed, approved, and ready to go. Once you
make a connection with an editor who agrees to look over your release, the last
thing you want to do is make him or her wait for it.
Wilson is SEO specialist at Zion and Zion, a full-service adverising firm in Tempe,
Arizona. This brief guide to public relations was excerpted from a longer
report on digital marketing.