Over the last few columns, we’ve been talking about Promotion. Last time, we walked through a brief overview of Social Media. Now we are going to talk about Public Relations, otherwise known as PR. PR is about writing press releases and pursuing media coverage.
PR is one of the best tools in your marketing arsenal. While Social Media connects you one on one with fans, PR allows you to connect with mass audiences through the writers, editors, radio & television show hosts, producers: the gatekeepers at various online, print, radio or television media outlets. Put another way, where as Social Media is about developing relationships with your fans (Fan Development,) PR is about developing relationships with the information gatekeepers in your physical area and your industry.
PR is an art form. A great PR strategy is based on the relationships a PR person has built with the media outlets. PR is the art of matching your project with the needs of the gatekeepers. This is one area where you truly can benefit from an experienced professional who can strategize and execute a coordinated PR plan. My company, FrontGate Media, has served as the PR agency for many people and projects. However, if you can write with good grammar and make a clear presentation of information, you can handle doing your own PR in the beginning.
First, please learn from others. The internet has made it VERY easy to find press releases from other companies. I wrote my very first press release to announce that I had joined a company as their VP of Marketing & Sales. I modeled my news release after a similar release from another company. I searched the web to find a press release from another technology/agency type of company announcing their new VP. I did a find-and-replace with my name for his. I rewrote the paragraph about his family to be about mine. (I didn’t have a dog…) After reviewing a few press releases from other companies, it was very easy to model my release after their releases. You can do that too.
Who do you send releases to? If you followed my discussion about God’s Growth Strategy, then in the beginning, you may simply have your church staff, a couple of key people at other local churches, a couple of key people in your city government, and a few local writers and radio show hosts on your list. You can build that list yourself.
As you expand from your church to your city, and then from your city to your county, and then to the tri-county area or state, all along the way you can be building your press list. You can be developing relationships with more gatekeepers. Find the places where you think your news should show up: the Christian Examiner or the Christian Post in your city, the local city newspaper, the local Christian radio station. Find the people at those media outlets who may want to know about what you are doing. Religion or entertainment editors and columnists are likely candidates for you. Also be sure to include key people who are not in the media, but with whom you have been involved: at their church, booked into their event, produced your album, etc.
What do you write about? I purposely put this question AFTER “who do you send to?” There is no way you can know what to write about until you know who is going to receive the press release. What you write about depends on what your gatekeepers want to know. Again, a quick search on the internet can yield a ton of press releases that will give you ideas about what to release yourself.
Take a few key gatekeepers to lunch and ask them. Many journalists are happy to spend a little time with you and can give you great coaching for the cost of a decent lunch. Very early on, I had lunch with the woman who was the marketing & media columnist for the Orange County Business Journal. That lunch not only established a good relationship with her, but from it, I learned things I still use today.
For a worship leader, I’m sure you can locate press releases about other worship leaders releasing albums, going on tours, offering resources, achieving great milestones, and more. We cover those press releases as news all the time on CreatorWorship.com. Start there.
Lastly, you can always use a wire service like ChristianNewsWire.com, Religion News Service or PR Newswire to send your press release far and wide for a relatively low cost ($500 or less at the low end.) Wire services exist to distribute your release to the mass market of gatekeepers. The benefit a wire service provides is that for a very reasonable price, they can deliver your press release to a lot of gatekeepers. The downside is that those gatekeepers probably do not have the same relationship with the wire service that they have with a PR agent. It is not uncommon to hire a PR agent and use one or more wire services at the same time.
The real question you have to ask yourself is, “is my press release worth sending out nationally or internationally to people who have never heard of me before?” If so, then seriously consider one or more wire services.
So far in the MAP, we’ve talked about your Mission, Fan Development, the Non-Profit option, God’s Growth Strategy, the Four P’s, Social Media, and now PR. Next time we’ll go deeper into Promotion with Advertising. Until then…
You’ll find Scott’s regular column in Worship Musician! magazine: “Ministry + Artistry = Profitability? Creating your MAP”. Scott has led classes for us at NAMM and the Christian Musician Summit. He has been featured in Adweek and is the CEO of FrontGate Media, the #1 culture-engaged media group reaching the Christian audience (www.FrontGateMedia.com) and is the co-founder of Creator Worship: online radio for worship leaders (www.CreatorWorship.com) . Email your comments or questions to Scott@CreatorLeadershipNetwork.com.