What are your relations with the media like? Do you – or anyone else in your business for that matter – have anything to do with the media? Do you have any kind of PR strategy?

You might know that you ought to, but you might also be thinking: what’s the point, it’s all a lot of hard work, I’ve got loads of other things to do running my business, and I don’t really want to have anything to do with journalists – don’t they twist and manipulate everything anyway?

So perhaps it’s worth reiterating what the benefits are of engaging in the media.

People pushing PR and media services glibly say ‘editorial has four times the value of advertising’, but what does this actually mean and why?

Well, what it means is that if a newspaper or magazine or website, or a television or radio programme features your business, or your products, or even you, then that’s a fantastic way to promote yourself.

But not in an advert, in a story!

The basic fact is that each time you place an advertisement, you have to pay.  And if a journalist writes about you or makes a TV programme which features you, then (generally) it’s free.

And the power of advertising may even be on the way down. Nowadays people tend to scan adverts without taking too much notice, and in a world of Freeview and Sky Plus, they just fast forward through TV adverts completely.

Why do you think advertising agencies are continually striving to come up with new and innovative ideas of making their latest campaign go viral?

On the other hand, if people read a story in a newspaper or magazine, or watch a programme on TV, it’s because they want to, they’ve chosen to.  And if you happen to be on it, they’ll be taking far more notice.

So there will be hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe millions, of people who know about you and what you do who might otherwise never have heard of you.  Which is a lot of potential customers.

Add to that the fact that if you’ve been chosen by the presenter, or the reporter, or the producer to be featured, it is because they feel your opinion has value, or you have got something fascinating to say, or you are doing something interesting or great. And the viewers and readers know that, so they’ll take you, and your business, more seriously.

Which is why it is well worth making an effort with public relations and engaging with the media.

Of course, the big question is how to do this.  Do you employ your own press or public relations officer? Do you employ a full time PR agency? Do you use an agency on an ad hoc basis when you’ve got a new product to sell or good story to tell? Or do you do it yourself?

Well, it rather depends on what your business does and how big your budget is. If you’ve got the money, then why not pay someone else to do it for you? I would! But with a little effort, if you know what you’re doing and you devise a realistic strategy, it is perfectly possible to do it yourself.

Ann WrightAnn Wright runs Rough House Media, which specialises in equipping its clients with the skills and expertise to handle the media. Its services include media consultancy, training and production. She has over 20 years experience working in newspapers, magazines and as a BBC television producer. She’s produced everything from major state ceremonial occasions to undercover consumer investigations.

If you’d like more information about how Rough House could help your business, contact me on [email protected].