PR agency services

We have the flair, know-how and contacts to deliver effective communication campaigns. We use PR, article placement, media relations and content creation to deliver. Fortitude can tell your stories in the right way and reach the right audiences.

Public Relations

The great paradox in PR is that PR has a PR problem.

This issue is multidimensional. Some people stereotype PR as spin. Others cannot explain what PR people do, in the simple way they may for solicitors, journalists and accountants. While some confuse it with advertising. And hence the problem. 

PR consultants helps businesses, organisations and individuals develop a positive reputation with the public via a variety of earned and owned communications. They include traditional media, digital media, social media, and speaking slots. When required PR consultants also help clients protect their reputation, if it is threatened.

Here are the top things you need to know about PR:

What is Public Relations? 

Public Relations is focused on developing and protecting an organisation or individuals’ reputation. Every organisation, regardless of size, relies on a great reputation to be successful. 

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations defines PR as: 

Public Relations is about reputation — the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.’

Multiple influences, including customers, partners, suppliers, employees, investors, the media, and regulators can all have an impact on a reputation. They all form views, perceptions and opinions and may share them. The sharing of such views could influence the views and behaviours of others. 

Reputation is a crucial asset for an organisation and helps cement a strong position in the market. Well executed strategic PR can help manage a reputation effectively, via the delivery of clear communications and engagement with key audiences. 

PR consultants are excellent story tellers. An effective PR consultant will devise a communications strategy that supports an organisations’ business objectives and then create a narrative to consistently deliver the plan. In the delivery stage this involves discovering, creating, distributing and placing positive stories that protect, enhance and build reputations via the media, social media and owned platforms. Each story will contain key messages that help communicate the strategy and position the organisation effectively to its target audiences. If there is an issue to manage a PR consultant will advise quickly and effectively on the best response to help minimise any potential negative impact. 

PR consultants use a host of tactics to deliver a communications strategy. Tools include writing, distributing and placing press releases along with quality photography. Pitching story ideas, first person pieces and features to editors and journalists and writing the articles if a pitch is commissioned. Writing articles and blogs for company websites and LinkedIn pages. Speech writing, letter writing, website content writing, newsletter content writing, producing content for social media and event support. 

What is News? 

A big part of the successful execution of a PR and communications strategy is making the news. Key to the successful delivery of a news item is ensuring it stems from a communications strategy and therefore has a purpose, contains predetermined key messages and is published or broadcast where it will reach the right audiences. 

A good PR agency will advise you on what is news, the complex nature of news and how to make the news. This is where a good PR consultant is invaluable and why at Fortitude, we ensure our team consists of a mix of PR consultants with a diverse range of experience, including journalism. There are two primary ways to make the news. One is to create and place a story and the second is to follow or hi-jack’ a story. Furthermore, as a PR agency develops a company’s engagement with the media, forms important connections and a reputation for providing strong and quick comment, in-bound media inquiries will also grow. 

So, what is News? Well, the name is the give-away. It must be new. It must inform the reader, listener or viewer of something new. One of the first things aspiring hacks are taught by lecturers at the National Training for the Council of Journalists, the industry recognised training course, are The Five W’s’.

The Five W’s are the key elements that must be included in a news story. They are: Who, What, Why, When, Where and How. That’s right, a H’ was added to the 5 W’s at some point in time, but the name stayed the same. Following this basic application helps formulate a comprehensive story that could be published by a news organisation or be used on a news page of a company website. 

Who is the story about it? What have they done, or are doing? Why? When did it happen, or when will it happen? Where did it happen, or where will it happen? Lastly, how will it happen, or how did it happen? 

Here is an example of the opening section of a press release Fortitude produced and placed in the media for the Oxford Bus Company: 

The Oxford Bus Company is investing in a new range of luxury coaches for part of its Airline services to Gatwick and Heathrow. 

The £3.5m upgrade will see 11 new Mercedes Tourismo coaches enter service next month. The significant investment is part of Oxford Bus Company’s commitment to introducing the latest technology to its fleet and providing a first-class service to passengers. The coaches are fitted with the latest green technology and are ultra-low Euro 6 rated for emissions. Most journeys between Oxford and Heathrow will operate using the 11 new coaches which will be part of an overall fleet of 16 Airline coaches.’ 

Right at the top of the press release the 5 W’s are covered, meaning the story is told clearly and sufficiently straight away. The rest of the press release develops the detail and broadens the story, with quotes from key spokespeople. 

Telling a story clearly in the opening sentence is crucial to grabbing the attention of a news editor or journalist straight away. The first thing they will think when they open an email, or listen on the end of the telephone is what is the story?’ Followed by is it new?’, is it unusual?’ and should I care?’ If you can answer these key challenges and it is relevant to their readers, viewers or listeners, you will be in with a chance of seeing your news published or broadcast. 

Creating a story that is relevant and worthy of appearing in the media is where a quality PR consultant can help. There are many ways to communicate the news of a business, charity, or person. News flow is the first method, this encompasses regular company news for example: a product launch, an acquisition, a new senior hire, a merger, an award win, or an office move. Other tactics can include using company data to highlight interesting trends in an industry, this alongside surveys is a common PR tool. Additionally, thought leadership and first-person pieces are excellent ways to secure strong in-depth articles that position a senior person in a business or organisation as an expert in their respective field. A thought leadership or first-person piece is an article that carries the writer’s name on the by-line, rather than a journalists’ and provides a thoughtful look at a talking point, topic, issue or trend in their industry or profession. 

The above can be planned via a detailed content plan, which maps out planned PR activity typically over three, six or 12 months. This ensures a consistent flow of output and is normally used as a working document’, meaning it is flexible. This enables PR consultants to save stories that are not time sensitive, if contemporary opportunities are created and secured. For example, following a breaking story, commonly referred to in the PR industry as news hi-jacking’. It involves spotting a story in the news and reacting. Quickly. For breaking news journalists often need experts to comment in real time, to provide context and understanding to a fast-moving story. For example, if the stock market crashes journalists will require experts to provide comment on why it has happened and what it means for investors. News hi-jacking requires fast reactions and the provision of quick, concise and relevant comment to a journalist. Further opportunity can still be seized, by providing a follow-up story that helps keep the story on the news agenda. Or by creating a feature idea on the topic, that delves deeper into the story. 

Is PR different to Advertising?

While both PR and advertising can be focused on similar objectives for an organisation the two disciplines are distinctly different. Advertising is purchased and PR is earned.

Richard Branson once said: Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.”

PR consultants must convince editors and journalists to publish a positive story. If successful it will appear in the editorial section of the media outlet, rather than the paid for section. This gives the PR placed story more credibility because it has been verified by a third party – the media outlet’s editorial team. This provides vital third-party verification and if published online on a quality news platform can support the development of an organisation or individual’s Google ranking. 

A PR piece helps build trust and goes into greater depth than an advert, as there is more space for the written word and thus engagement. Following the publication of a PR piece the organisation or individual written about then also has an opportunity to share the piece with their peers, either via LinkedIn or email for example, to increase its reach and further add to their credibility and reputation. 

While a PR piece is earned when placed in a third-party medium, rather than on the client’s owned channels, advertising is paid for. Advertising can be incredibly expensive in national or tier one publications or on broadcast channels. PR agencies usually charge a monthly retainer, or a one-off fixed fee for a project. Advertising is based on space for magazines, newspapers and websites and time slots for broadcasting. 

The plus side of an advert compared to PR is that you have full editorial control over the content final piece and the placement is guaranteed. Volume is required to build exposure and seek to influence the audience who are largely sceptical of adverts, compared to articles, to make a purchase. Most adverts are direct calls to purchase a product or service, whereas PR is more subtle and provides an opportunity for a soft sell which is less off-putting to the audience. 

PR consultants also provide a more comprehensive service than an advertising executive. A PR consultant will produce a long-term strategy that goes into detail on how to position an organisation or person and how to use various techniques to deliver the strategy. They can manage not just media output, but content for company websites, social media, reputation and image enhancement and deal with crises. 

Is Social Media part of PR

Social media is about external communication and reputation and therefore is a vital part of PR. For a start-up company, for example, social media is used to gain brand awareness, reach its target audiences and engage with potential customers.

This requires establishing a brand voice and getting the tone of voice just right. This process is covered in a communications strategy and social media should form part of the tactical output of the plan. A PR agency is highly skilled in developing a company narrative and communicating externally with consumers and businesses and so social media is a natural fit. 

Social media enables PR consultants to help with reputation management, relationship management, identify threats and engage third-party cheerleaders. As a result of the power of social media PR consultants now manage more delicate issues and operate in a faster paced environment. 

Using social media channels enables a direct communication with many people, which can be very effective. It is a quick method of communication and is targeted to people who have chosen to engage with you or your brand on social media. Posting blogs, news content, information and views, or sharing industry relevant posts can raise your profile and credibility in your field. 

Social media can enhance wider PR work and help broaden the reach of key messages. What is important is to ensure a different approach is used for social media and for each channel used. Social media requires a more informal use of language and an ability to grab attention immediately. On Twitter, for example, write your Tweet in a similar fashion to a headline, rather than an article. Make it punchy and to the point and use a strong image. A hyperlink can take followers through to more detail. While LinkedIn does provide an opportunity for publishing more long form considered thought leadership articles to share with industry peers. Content should be repurposed on each relevant channel, but always crafted to suit each medium. 

Social media is a powerful tool in developing relationships and can have a genuine effect on the reputation of an organisation or individual. It therefore requires a clear plan and careful management. 

Is PR over reliant on print media? 

With circulation numbers decreasing in the newspaper industry PR consultants are often asked what it means for the world of Public Relations and whether they are over reliant on print media. 

Placing a good strategic article in a newspaper or magazine remains a big part of PR and can deliver high impact for a business. Furthermore, an article published in print is often also placed online, which provides increased PR value. Falling circulation has resulted in smaller editorial teams and an increased reliance by the media for high-quality PR content that is suitable for publication. 

However, it is just one part of a successful PR campaign. PR consultants have a wide range of options available to deliver a successful PR campaign, including the trade press, digital PR, blog creation, content creation, social media management, website content, broadcast opportunities and public speaking slots. 

Digital PR is increasingly a major part of a good communications strategy. Articles on a credible website will help improve an organisation’s Google Ranking and support a wider campaign to appear on page one of the search engine. Equally a good PR article published online can be re-purposed and shared across social media channels to enable wider reach and further enhance credibility. 

Oxford Bus Company
What our clients have to say

Fortitude provides us with an excellent media service — fast, reliable and effective. Greig takes the time to understand what we are trying to achieve through each of our stories and suggests appropriate angles to take and channels to use. He then uses his excellent relations with the media to maximise coverage and generate the right messages for our audience.

Phil Southall, Managing Director Oxford Bus Company

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