Friday ramble - Regional PR: who you know and what you know
Local and regional PR can be a tricky beast. People often assume that generating media coverage in the ‘local rag’ or securing opportunities at local events is easy as pie. Sometimes it is. But to be truly effective, regional campaigns require all the strategic thought and creativity of national activity.
Some say that regional PR is a classic case of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. We believe it’s a combination of both.
It’s true that personal relationships are a good thing: from knowing the area’s key journalists and broadcasters to the people who head up local committees or community groups. If you are in touch with the region’s movers and shakers you’re likely to hear about emerging initiatives or events, and have the opportunity to get involved early – even steer the direction that they take.
But it doesn’t begin and end there.
PR is about building and managing reputations amongst relevant audiences. So, from a campaign planning point of view, you need to think carefully about who you are trying to communicate with, where you are likely to find them, what you want to convey and – most importantly – how to go about it.
Sometimes this can be easier said than done! But a combination of local knowledge, contacts and experience go a long way towards developing and implementing campaigns that make the right noise in the right places.
It’s no good churning out press releases to the local newspapers and hoping that they will run your corporate stories week after week. Even if they did, people would soon get bored of reading them.
Instead of always thinking: ‘what do we want to talk about?’, it can be much more beneficial to think: ‘what do people in the region want?’.
This attitude can lay the foundation for an excellent local and regional profile. Here are just two examples of how it might translate into PR initiatives:
1. Support local schools: for instance, an engineering firm might build relationships with schools by providing opportunities to bring the maths and science curriculum to life in new and exciting ways. The benefits? Well, local media are sure to be interested – there could be scope for broadcast and print coverage, as well as exciting social media potential. Not to mention the corporate social responsibility brownie points. Plus the students could be potential future employees (or even customers!)… investing in young people can make a huge difference to their lives, as well as bringing short and long term benefits to organisations who take the time to do so.
2. Get involved with regional events: think laterally about local festivals, initiatives or developments that could have synergy with your organisation, and find ways to build on this. If you want to prove that you are a family-focused business, why not donate staff time to help out manning stalls or selling programmes at local fetes and fairs. You’re sure to get positive media coverage, and your team can actively demonstrate your family-friendly credentials just by interacting with people – you’re showing it, rather than simply saying it, which is far more powerful.
The most important thing to remember with local and regional PR is that a good reputation needs to be earned. It can’t be achieved over night, and it needs to be nurtured. Effective reputation management doesn’t need to cost the earth, but it does need to be handled by people who have a finger on the pulse and know the nuances of the region and its people.
Over and out…
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