How to turn a message into a PR story - Part 2

Press work lives on stories. If there is no revolutionary product at hand or no new breathtaking service, creativity helps: in retail, the message is rarely already there, but needs to be created anew. To inspire the press to successfully cover your event, it is important to understand that a PR story must always go beyond the actual offer. This sounds a bit abstract at first, but there is a great example of this in New York. America's largest department stores' chain, Macy's, has been hosting its "Flower Show" in its largest shops in the two weeks leading up to Easter for over 45 years now. The main store in New York was full of flowers and the involvement of various artists turned the whole thing into a real art event in keeping with the theme "Art in Bloom". The Flower Show was recommended in the press as a destination and Macy's was accordingly incredibly well attended in New York before Easter.

Stories beyond your own offer

Sponsors such as the cruise company Royal Caribbean International financed individual displays, so-called Gardens, and were thus able to present themselves to end consumers in a flowering environment. Within the duration of the Flower Show, additional events such as fashion shows or cooking demos were also included. The shop windows were planted with real flowers. Why is the Flower Show a good example of a successful PR story? The story goes beyond what Macy's usual offers since department stores do not sell flowers. The press does not advertise Macy's and its great assortment but reports on the event. In the process, the department store is mentioned positively in connection with the Flower Show. Whoever is there and marvels at the floral splendour is sure to buy one or the other product from the range.

Small events at a small price

Of course, Macy's has a completely different budget at its disposal, but there are also numerous, more cost-effective ways. Let's move on to our treasure chest of ideas: An event can, for example, also be a regular handicraft or handlettering workshop, an invitation to fill Santa's boots with giveaways during Advent, a Halloween party or a painting competition. Try different things to see what is accepted as a story by the local press. Ideally, the news story has a seasonal context, for example it fits in with a holiday, a special day in the school year or even the annual Handwriting day on January 23 is a good idea. Readers are also always interested in a famous person or artist from the region. People like to read about people. If you don't have any news at hand, a regular highlight, an event or a tradition, such as the annual town festival, is also an important occasion for the press.

Enter into cooperations

Another possibility for successful PR in retail is local cooperation, for example as a member of a local initiative. Or retailers can plan a joint campaign with a manufacturer or present themselves as experts at an event. An example of such an appearance as an expert on a certain topic is offered by school supply. Retailers can organise school bag days. Either they plan them themselves or in cooperation with specialised organisers or with sponsors and manufacturers who exhibit at their own stands. Tips are given on how to choose the right school bag. Several school bag dealers regularly make it into the press through a combination of editorial coverage and classic advertisements.

Don't forget social media

PR involves much more than just articles in the press. In addition to flyers, co-operations, posters or social media are also suitable for supporting your campaign. Classic advertisements are also a helpful tool for the success of a campaign. Exciting raffles are popular as media co-operations. In addition to products, you can also raffle off a special service such as a children's room cleaner. Or how about organising a joint event? It is important to be patient and to repeat actions since many things take time to become established.

The 1x1 of press relations

There are many different ways to create an interesting story for the press as a retailer. Once the story is ready, all you have to do is tell it to the press. Here it is important to internalise the following motto: A picture is worth a thousand words; therefore, no news without a photo! Furthermore, you need a meaningful headline that arouses the reader's interest. In addition, the most important things in the press release must be in the first paragraph: the answers to the questions who, what, when, where, why. The language should not be too promotional, superlatives should be avoided. Also very helpful is a short profile with the key data of your company at the end of the press release, for those who do not yet know your business.

Now send your press release about your exciting PR story together with meaningful picture material to the contact person you have researched beforehand. Once everything is done, you just have to wait until the next publication date. Because if all three steps are followed in the right order, nothing stands in the way of successful PR in retail.

The three steps to successful PR in retail:

  1. get acquainted with the press
  2. find a story to tell
  3. inform the press about the story and provide visual material

About the Author

"We build bridges between brands and families!" - Griffiths Consulting is a communication agency that specialises in families, children and youngsters and triggers not only enthusiasm for brands but also makes sure that opinion leaders talk about these brands – both online and offline. The agency's founder, Ulrica Griffiths, was previously head of press and PR at Lego Central Europe. The agency's core services include social media, influencer marketing and public relations. Griffiths Consulting has partnered with the International Public Relations Team (IPRTeam) – a global cooperation of owner-managed PR agencies.

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