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PR Campaigns - How To Get To Grips With The Media

If you're serious about getting great results from your PR you may find that you have to severely challenge your current reading habits. A recent client completed her PR assessment form with a comment about how she had always read a certain paper because her parents had and she'd just fallen into the habit too. She now realised that she had to read a lot more widely to understand the amount of opportunities that are out there, and which ones would work for her.

I wonder how many of us are also guilty of falling into media comfort zones. And what can we do about it?

But before, I spill the beans; I thought I'd remind you about the importance of knowing The Sun from The Daily Mail, or Arena from Loaded. There are 4 main reasons why being media savvy will help your PR.

1. You will be aware of what publications are out there and therefore aware of all the opportunities open to you.

2. Different publications, even in the same niche, require a different approach. Both Woman and Good Housekeeping appeal to women in roughly the same age group but the language they use, and the subjects covered, in each of them, is so different that they may even need a different press release to reflect both the differing reader concerns and language.

3. As you read more widely you'll come to spot more and more opportunities that you weren't aware of, perhaps even before your competitors.

4. You may spot publications that you could write for and, hey, even earn a second income!

So, how do you get to grips with all the possibilities that are out there?

1. Let's start by making a list of all that you usually read (and you can do this as a team if there is more than one of you). Include things that you read for fun as well as business, things that you regularly read whilst sitting outside your client's/MD's office, and websites that you usually visit.

2. Now go through that list and cross out anything that you wouldn't want your business to be seen in, or wouldn't do your business any good to be seen in anyway.

3. Now, look at your remaining titles and suss out any gaps. If you've only covered one trade magazine, what about the other five that barrage you with requests for subscriptions? If you religiously read The Guardian can you accept that you really should start to become more aware of the opposition? So, here's list two - make a note of all the publications you need to get to know.

4. Now comes the difficult part, fitting them into your daily routine. Understand that you are going to have to move away from your comfort zone. I love to curl up with the Sunday magazines and wallow in materialist lusts (Gotta have those shoes/Nigella's new book/a kitchen like Jamie Oliver (yeah, as if!) but I make myself read the newspaper first. One way that you can do this might be reading through a publication each week on the train before you allow yourself to relax and settle into your novel.

5. If you work in a team you can assign particular publications to particular people and each of you can be responsible for reading your own publication and then giving a brief run down of what you think is important along with possible press opportunities in a weekly press meeting.

6. Does your trade magazine have a website? If time is really strained then this is a fall back. Send yourself regular reminders via Outlook or whatever to go and take a look and catch up on the latest news.

7. Make catching up on your reading a little bit of "me time" - disappear for fifteen minutes with a publication and a cappuccino and make it into a daily ritual that gives you a bit of time to breathe. If anyone queries it, you are working after all!

8. Once you really get into it, you'd be surprised at what possibilities are out there. You'll spot your major competitor being interviewed in a golfing magazine and sneakily dropping his business name in there. You'll see interviews on mothers who run businesses in a women's magazine and notice someone from your local networking group on the page.

Think outside the box. I was once interviewed for a mobile phone magazine (years ago, when they were pretty clunky!) about how vital it was to carry my mobile with me in case a journalist wanted to contact me urgently. And it was a double page spread with a picture of me and my (clunky) mobile phone and Tower Bridge in the background. It did my business wonders (even though I had changed phone companies by the time it came out!)

9. You can't afford to be smug once you feel everything is under control. New titles open all the time. Make regular trips to the newsagents (big station branches are great for this) and check for new titles. Read what's sitting around in the waiting room of your dentist or your clients and don't be afraid to ask if you can photocopy something if it looks vitally important!

10. Finally, and this is something I urge you to continue doing, always ask your clients what they read - for pleasure as well as work. And, if Dog Lovers International keeps cropping up, you know what you've got to do!!

Copyright Paula Gardner and Do Your Own PR 2004. All rights reserved.

Paula Gardner is a PR and Media Coach. You can sign up for more PR advice and information at, or check out her website at


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