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PR: How do I target the right media?

Make sure your business gets coverage in the right places. Here are some tips

I have a local boutique which I set up six months ago. I want to do PR but I’m not sure what media will reach my customers. The local paper is always approaching me and says it’s perfect, but how do I know?

Louise Findlay-Wilson writes:

Firstly, let me applaud you for wanting to get your media right. It’s absolute madness to embark on any kind of PR campaign if you really don’t know how to reach your target audience, as you will end up throwing lots of effort in all the wrong places!

Right, now for your question. First off you need to be really clear about who you are trying to reach. You say ‘your customers’ but I urge everyone to be certain about who that is. What makes them tick? How old are they? Do they have kids? How far are they likely to travel to come to your boutique? What socio-economic group are they in? What other complementary products/services do your best customers buy? Who else influences them?

It’s only by garnering this kind of information and really getting under the skin of your target audience that you can identify the best way to reach and attract them to your business.

Having got really clear about who your audience is, you can now look at how your target audience gets their information. Here’s how…

  • At the point of sale ask people to answer a quick question about their media habits. This can be incentivised – perhaps putting everyone into a draw to win a great handbag or piece of jewellery – or perhaps a voucher to use in your boutique. When you do this ask for their email and home address so you can start building a database too.
  • You say you have been operating for six months – if you already have a database of customers, conduct a survey among them or have a customer feedback form (this is good practice anyway). Include a question about what they read, listen to, and don’t forget to ask if they use social media (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube).
  • Conduct some desk research looking for your customers on Facebook and Twitter – what percentage of your customers use either or both of these? You could be really surprised at how important these social media channels are for your business.
  • If you ever have a table at local events, again have a quick card people must complete about their media habits in return for entering a prize draw. (Again you will inexpensively create a useful database with real insights about how to reach and influence it).
  • Routinely ask everyone you bump up against, who is like the type of people you are targeting, what media they rate and use at the moment.
  • Check out all the media and magazines in your marketplace. Look and listen to them all – you will get a sense for yourself of those that are better than others.
  • Speak to other more established companies who are targeting the same customers as you. Buy them a coffee and pool your know-how. Ask what media works for them, what they’re trying and what hasn’t worked. But tread carefully. The business may be quite random in its marketing – ask how they measure effectiveness. If they don’t measure results and are operating on a hunch use this information to add depth to other fact finding you are carrying out.

Advertising sales reps working for most media will be only too pleased to tell you how many people their site, e-zine, magazine, newspaper, TV or radio station reaches. Indeed, most will have a media pack which describes what they do and who their audience is. While this is useful, be careful. As you have already found, the media want you to think they are the best at reaching the people that matter to you, as they want you to be tempted to advertise with them at some stage in the future. Don’t take it all at face value. Ask:

  • Are their figures ABC audited? If not, don’t rely on them.
  • If it’s a paper/magazine are they paid for or free subscription? If something is paid for, it’s more likely to be read.
  • How they compare against their nearest media rivals. In answering this they will name the media they think are critical. They could flag up important media that you hadn’t thought of.

Lastly, don’t be media prejudiced. Just because you don’t use Facebook or like your local radio doesn’t mean your customers and potential customers don’t. Be open-minded!

Louise Findlay-Wilson is a regular speaker and commentator on PR issues. The creator of PrPro…, a radical new service designed for smaller companies who want to go down the DIY PR route, Louise has worked in PR for over 25 years. She has advised and promoted household names such as the BBC, Cap Gemini and St Paul’s Cathedral, through to exciting start-ups and owner-managed businesses, helping them use PR to accelerate their growth.

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