The Importance of Public Relations
Public relations are defined as the creation and maintenance of a favorable image. It is part of marketing and advertising, but it goes further. As a landowner, you should always be concerned with your business image. Your public relation goals can range from client's satisfaction with their experience, to acceptance of your operation by neighbors, local community leaders, and the general public. It's worth the effort to foster the support of neighbors, state and federal agencies, citizen groups and your local Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau.
Having the media at your event is very beneficial and offers an opportunity for your farm tour to be highlighted in local newspapers and other media sources. Your media needs will depend on the nature of your farm services. If you are opening your farm to the general public, contact your media source early to ensure time to advertise and promote your event.
Follow these tips when organizing for media to be at your event:
- Determine how you want to promote the farm event and contact the appropriate media sources.
- Start early – be sure to allow enough time for media to make arrangements.
- Invite different sources of media (newspaper, local television, local radio, etc.)
- Be sure to tell your farm staff that media will be at your farm tour.
- Be prepared to answer any questions that the media may ask – either in the planning stages or during your event.
- Make sure you are clear about any restrictions you have about taking pictures
The media is an excellent resource if utilized appropriately. Cooperatively working with the media is more effective when getting your story out. Remember it is the media’s responsibility to deliver the story, but it is your responsibility to tell it. Be friendly and stay positive - journalists are helping you promote your farm.
Depending on the nature of your farm event having the media present may be a great idea. However, ensure they are going to promote a positive message about agriculture and the farm tour when they write their story. Consider photographs and advise the media of your preference on this issue. If the media is present during your event, write your own press release and send it to the local paper. As reference, an example press release is included in the ‘sample templates’ section.
- Make the readership aware of your farm event and the highlights of the day.
- Follow the who, what, when, where, why, how format to successfully highlight your day and the audience in attendance.
- If you are willing to host more events, include your contact information and encourage people to consider visiting your next event.
- Be sure to thank those involved in your event and any sponsors you may have had that supported the day.
- Send the press release to a couple of local papers – try to send it within a week of your event. No one wants to read ‘old’ news and the paper will likely not print something that happened three months ago!
Raise your local profile by emailing press releases to local media, anything from first lambs of the year, events, interesting visitors etc. are all grist to the media mill and will keep you on their radar for local comment on news stories or for write-ups in ‘quiet’ news periods.
The key to getting press releases accepted is to send newsworthy information. This does not mean that it has to be earth shattering or fantastic. Anything of interest or usefulness to readers will stand you in good stead. Avoid blatantly self-promotional pieces – editors want news, not advertising. The name of your farm and its location, worked in with the rest of the story, is sufficient to enable readers to get in touch with you.
Possible headlines for your press release might be:
‘Organic farm open day’, or ‘Organic farm offers public chance to see new piglets’. Other angles might include new products or services, awards and noteworthy accomplishments, developments on the farm, eg, a new farm trail, new farm shop, an outbuilding converted for use by visiting school parties and so on.
Ten tips for writing a successful press release:
- Your writing should be clear and factual providing details of dates, times, prices, and activities.
- Press releases should be printed. Leave a wide margin and double spacing between lines to allow for editing.
- Keep to one side of A4 paper.
- Include a short quote from yourself or another relevant person.
- Provide background information, such as details of organisations, people and regulations, in a section after the main press release, headed ‘Notes to editor’.
- Provide a contact name, telephone number, and email at the bottom of the release.
- Ring the publication you are sending your press release to and get the name of the appropriate editor, eg, news, food, farming, women’s interest.
- Send the press release to a named individual, by email.
- If possible include one or two photographs showing working scenes on your farm.
- Telephone your contact a few days after sending, to see if they can use the story or want further information.