A short guide to good Public Relations (PR)

PR (Public Relations) can be of enormous benefit to your pool, spa or sauna business. This article will give you some ideas as to what PR is all about and how you can make it work for you.

Hold the front page.

Public relations are about how well known and well thought of your business is with the public. Most commonly, how your business appears and is reported in the media – whether that is on local radio, in the papers or perhaps even on TV or the web.

A PR campaign publicises your business and builds up its good reputation; done well, PR creates positive awareness and drives sales.

Advertising and PR generally share the same media but there is a very significant difference. From the public’s point of view, advertising is what you say about yourself and PR is what other people say about you.

In the reality of life, it isn’t quite that cut and dried but one thing immediately becomes clear.

Good PR is very good but bad coverage in the media can really hurt your business. We will deal with ways to handle bad PR in a later article.

Is any publicity, good publicity?

On the consumer journey, the path that a perspective buyer goes from total stranger to loyal customer, making your business known to them is the first important step.

They might take that step by word of mouth, by seeing your vehicles or premises, by seeing some of your advertising or by reading about you in the local paper or hearing about your business on a local radio station.

All of those things work, but a mention in the local (or regional or national) media probably works better than any of the others, especially if it’s linked to a positive and relevant story.

The public tend to see the media as impartial; they see a story in the press or on the web written by a third party as having more credibility than a piece of advertising that has been paid for.

To some extent, good PR works in a similar way to testimonials and referrals. In the modern world, the boundaries between PR and Social Media are becoming less easy to define.

So how can you make it happen?

First of all you need to become aware of your local media environment.

That means that you read the papers and listen to the radio. Journalists and reporters like to be well known to so they will put their names to stories and articles in the paper and on the air.

You should be able to quickly discover who is responsible for appropriate areas such as local business news, lifestyle pieces and perhaps ‘human interest’ stories.

These are the sorts of contacts that you will need to send your press releases to.

A good press release is important. Journalists are busy and so you need to present your story in a way that makes it immediately clear to them what the piece is about, how it would appeal to the public interest and how it would fit with the style and tone of their radio show, magazine or paper.

And then there is the story itself.

What you would like to see in the press might not fit with what the media think is of sufficient interest to their readers, viewers and listeners.

You need to have PR at the back of your mind all the time so that when something does happen or is about to happen that you think might be newsworthy you are ready to gather the facts, put them together with an idea as to how the story fits with a particular media channel and get it to the individuals who are most likely to see it published or broadcast.

Look what they are saying about us!

Some newsworthy stories just happen and some are made to happen.

Success stories are popular as an antidote to the present climate. Entering local business awards can be a route to good PR and particularly so if you win.

If you can help in the local community than that can be a PR opportunity. Offering to look after a school’s swimming pool or providing hydrotherapy for a care home or an individual or helping a local charity. These sorts of things – if done correctly and handled appropriately – are highly likely to get you good PR.

If you’re particularly proud of an unusual installation – be it pool, sauna or spa – then is there an opportunity to get that mentioned in the lifestyle section of a local magazine or paper? If the client is a hotel or spa, then perhaps there are opportunities for you both to benefit?

Time and money.

Your PR strategy should be a part of and fit in with your marketing strategy.

Your aim should be to get the right image for your business in front of the people who you have defined as your target market.

Employing a PR agency will save you time and you will benefit from their contacts, knowledge and expertise.

If you choose to do it yourself you will save that cost but have to invest your own time into making it work.

Getting good PR takes skill, time and effort and there is always an element of luck involved – having just the right story on just the right day.

Don’t be shy.

Journalists and reporters need stories to fill their programs and pages.

Good PR can give a huge boost to your business but the media won’t come around and ask you for a story. You will have to approach them.