Thursday, May 25, 2006

How to Promote to Kent Businesses: Part 2 - Public Relations

Public Relations, Press Relations, Publicity or PR. Despite the different labels, it all means the same thing - managing your organisation's reputation amongst it's key audiences (or it's 'Publics', hence the term Public Relations).

An organisation's Publics can include existing customers, potential customers, staff, investors, suppliers, press, trade bodies, resellers, agents - even the bank manager. All Publics are individuals or groups that could have an influence, positive or negative, upon your business.

Most people think PR is just about the press, and it's true that handling the media comprises the largest area of PR activity. PR is usually used to obtain favourable press coverage in target media, to help communicate with your target Publics.

There are also other benefits. Amongst increasingly cynical consumers, an independent journalist writing about your business, product or service will also have far more credibility than your own official corporate message. In addition, online PR activity can now be used to spread your message online and gain valuable relevant back links to your website.

PR Opportunities in Kent

For the business wanting to promote itself within Kent, there are a number of B2B and B2C PR opportunities available in the media and press;

Local Press
The dominant local press publisher in Kent is the Kent Messenger group, publishing a range of paid for and free titles across the region, as well as running local radio stations. The other main publisher, Kent Regional Newspapers, publish the Adscene and paid for titles across the region. Finally KOS Media publish countywide weekend newspapers and specialist consumer magazines.

These media provide a good channel for local stories of consumer interest such as new branch openings, staff achievements and charitable support. Smaller stories such as these should not be overlooked by your business. They can help gain regular coverage, build relationships with the media, and help ensure local support from staff and suppliers. Following a 'people' angle with your news story seems to be the most successful way of gaining coverage in the local press.

Consumer Magazines
The leading consumer magazines in Kent tend to target high quality consumers in some of the more affluent areas of the county. As monthly lifestyle titles, a brief news story probably wont appeal to their editorial teams. Instead see if you can build an angle for them to run a longer editorial feature, perhaps on the history of your business, or the unique experiences of its owners. Kent Life magazine is published by Archant and covers the whole county. Other local titles include The Index Magazine, and Wealden Times.

Business Press
There are several regular business to business publications in Kent. Kent Business is a standalone newspaper published monthly by the KM Group, and the business editorial team also feeds business stories into the weekly local press. South East Business is a monthly business magazine covering Kent and surrounding counties. Kent Director magazine also targets the region. These magazines tend to have a high quality readership of Kent directors and managers, but can at times major too strongly on accountancy, law, company cars, and official news from government bodies.

The business section of Kent on Sunday has grown in scale and should also be considered, although the current location of the business pages tucked away at the back of the paper has always seemed a little curious.

Radio and TV
If you have a strong enough angle to your story or it is highly topical, and you are able to provide someone for interview, then you could try getting coverage on local radio or TV. The two main networks are obviously the BBC who operate BBC South East and BBC Radio Kent, and the ITV Meridian network.

As mentioned in the introduction, online PR in Kent can not only gain you coverage, but also valuable back links to your website if you include your website URL in the release, which can help your search engine rankings. Some publications will reproduce your printed stories online as a matter of course, but at Kent Online you can send your press releases direct to the online news team. Other websites carrying Kent business news include and the BBC Kent website.

No matter what type of media you are contacting, you need to follow some basic simple rules for gaining press coverage. Start by following some tips for writing a great press release.

Josh Whiten can help your organisation build effective relationships with it's key publics in Kent or beyond, through the use of targeted and ongoing public relations activities. For more information please Email Josh Whiten
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