The Public Relations Toolkit: A Review

We understand that marketing is primarily concerned with generating sales leads and sales works to turn those leads into closed sales. That is clear enough, but what many have a problem with is public relations. Is it marketing? Is it something else. We hear vague terms like “communications” and we can see public relations at work when things go wrong or when a politician wants something from the voters (what do you think the latest presidential news conference was all about?). However, if you pin down the average person and demand a proper definition for the term “public relations,” they may be hard-pressed to give you one even though they know it when they see it.

The PR Toolkit has gone a long way to solve this issue with its Public Relations Toolkit, which both explains traditional public relations and helps you use it to augment your marketing efforts. While the prose are somewhat dry, the explanations are clear and concise, such as in the following:

Public Relations (PR) works hand-in-hand with the media that your customers and prospects are exposed to every day. PR takes advantage of the media’s role: To inform, entertain and provide information to their readers or audiences. With a few key tools, it is possible to work with reporters to create visibility for your business and the solutions and services you provide.

  • PR can inform prospects about your capabilities and products, creating new business leads.

  • PR can “condition” the market, by introducing your company name or strengths to potential customers. If they already have a favorable idea of your business, PR can shorten the time needed to convince customers to buy.

  • PR can distinguish your business from your competition by highlighting your strengths.

  • PR can reinforce your current customers’ decisions to buy, by creating a positive image for your business.

By defining public relations through what it does and can do for your business, the Toolkit makes the topic of the book more engaging than it might otherwise be. The Toolkit goes on to introduce the reader to the media, PR strategy, the reader's audience and provides solid advice on stories, press kits and releases and the like with examples and samples that the reader can follow and modify for their own use. For example, consider this section on newspapers:

Every city has a daily newspaper that is printed and delivered each day of the week. It contains news

that is happening around the world and nation, but primarily focuses on news in your city. Daily

newspapers present an excellent opportunity for small businesses like yours to get publicity because

they like to hear about what’s going on with businesses located in their cities.

Here are some Daily Newspaper examples: The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Denver Post,

Hartford Courant and Miami Herald.

Local daily story examples:

  • Stories about management changes in your company

  • Feature stories about local events being hosted by your company

  • Stories about how a big national trend affects the local community and your business

  • Stories about how seasonal events affect your company

  • Letters to the editor or articles where you share your opinion of an important community issue

You are introduced to the topic and almost at once taught what to do with it. This is seen throughout in both the expository sections and in the charts, which offer easily digestible information on both traditional print and electronic media as well as new media such as blogs and podcasts, as well as a quick sketch of the kinds of things you can offer them.

New Media vs. Traditional Media

The problem with this is that while the quick sketch of the new media topics is good, there is no other material to back it up. Newspapers, for example, are heavily discussed but blogs, which now account for a greater share of people's news than ever before, are not. Resources like Twiter and Facebook are given at the end, but aside from a brief introduction the reader is left to fend for himself.

This constitutes the Toolkit's major drawback, it pays little attention to the kind of media that is slowly but surely displacing traditional news sources, focusing primarily on where the media has been, rather than where it is clearly going. Still, overall, the Public Relations Toolkit is a useful reference and if you are considering developing or expanding a public relations effort for your business, it is well worth reading.

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