10 Tips How To Set-Up a Basic PR Function

Some small to medium-sized companies are too small to hire a PR professional however they recognize they need to have the basic structure of a PR function in place. They might see an issue coming up and are not prepared how to manage the media and at the same time they realize they need positive company exposure to let potential clients know they exist and what they stand for.

If you are looking for the basics to set up a PR function within your company, my 10 tips might help you get started.

1. Press question database

Create a new file called Press Database in which you store press questions. This includes incoming press contacts and any media outreach actions (outgoing requests). Write a template in which you list the below mentioned information. Create individual sub-files per subject.

  • Date of the call/e-mail
  • Requested deadline
  • Administrator, who has taken the call/received the e-mail
  • Subject / topic (Examples are: Interview Request CEO; Press Conference new product)
  • The actual question or request (in case of an e-mail, copy the e-mail which incorporates the question or request).
  • Who should handle the call
  • Who needs to approve the content
  • All data, e-mails, call notes with regard to the handling of the call/request
  • The final answer or content delivery by copying the e-mail or typing the exact script of the call to the journalist
  • Attach a PDF of the published article and/or refer to a link on the internet.

2. Photo database

Create one photo database or Image Bank in which you store all images that are approved for internal and external use. Make sure that images are free of rights. The images should be categorised and labelled with the name of the photographer, production date, resolution information, location and/or information with regard to the event.

3. Media Policy: Rules & Guidelines

Any company needs rules and guidelines how staff should manage the media. Companies aim to build and maintain good relationships with the media since this contributes to protect and enhance the reputation of the company. A coordinated and consistent approach in communications helps companies reach this goal.

A Media Policy articulates the required skills and responsibilities of individuals dealing with the media, as well as providing clarity for all employees as to the importance of a Media Policy and the process for adhering to it.

Include the following topics in the media policy:

  • Who are the persons authorised to speak with the media (spokespersons) and on which topics. What are the preparation and authorisation procedures for the spokespersons.
  • Approval and distribution procedure of press releases.
  • A media distribution list with media outlets and contact details. The list contains the media and contacts with which the company aims to build long-term relationships.
  • Telephone script and do’s and don’ts for anybody who answers incoming phone calls from journalists.
  • Crisis Manual

4. Media Monitoring

Set-up a daily news clipping service. In this way, the Managing Director and staff remains timely up-to-date of important news. Make a media monitoring list. Include professional print and online media, including well read blogs. You will need a topic search list and a proposed media search list. The advantage of hiring an external supplier for this task is that it offers this daily service consistently at a certain previously agreed time.

5. Media and other external stakeholder distribution list

Build a comprehensive media list in case you will need to consistently target the right media (in case of press releases, invitations etc) and the right contact person and further build a relationship with them. It’s important to nurture any contact with the press at events and other occasions where staff meets the press. In order to include the right media contact persons, gather as much information online as possible (media channels websites). If needed, call the editorial team for the details of the right contact persons. In addition to the same media as mentioned on the media monitoring list, include RTV. Make separate lists for other relevant (non-media) industry stakeholders.

6. Press release template

Review press releases and create one press release template for e.g. appointment press releases and new clients. Include company or brand logo, media contact details and include an “About Company” section.

7. Website

The corporate website ideally needs a separate section for the media. In this section the media finds public information, such as:

  • A video message from the CEO
  • Press releases
  • Biographies and images
  • Earnings results or public company facts & figures
  • Company history
  • Ownership structure
  • Annual report
  • Information about the company at public events, such as event details, press conference notes, powerpoint slides, photos, videos, podcasts, web casts, interviews.

8. Social media presence

Depending on the company’s objectives and the right timing, have an active presence on certain social media. If social media are part of the business services you offer, you should actively be present, providing you have the organisation structured in the right way.

  • Decide why you want to be on social media and how you will handle posts and responses.
  • Decide which topics you want to share and which not.
  • Make sure that the person who will be designated to post news or remarks on social media, follows the Media Policy.
  • Decide how you want to structure who is active on social media.
  • Make sure social media are integrated with the overall PR and Marketing strategy.

9. Pro-active media approach

Don’t wait until the media contacts you, but have a media plan with goals for media presence and topics. That gives you time to build a relationship with journalists and do the necessary research. You also need time to prepare (Q&A sessions or more in-depth media training) and to create or wait for the right media opportunity. Pro-actively plan interviews and speaker, jury, column, blog opportunities etc. ahead and make an integrated PR plan for each individual action/press contact.

You could start with setting up an integrated communications program for the CEO.

10. Media training + crisis management training

Book an external media training session for those staff members that are designated spokespersons for the company as soon as possible. It’s an investment you need to make.

Following the training, individuals should be able to know the basics (do’s and don’ts) related to how to manage the media. In addition, they learn to articulate the topics around their area of expertise.

A separate ‘crisis’ management training module for all staff  gives insights in and prepares staff for how to handle in case of an issue. Ideally this training should be combined with building the content for the crisis manual.

These are my 10 tips. What would you add?

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