The most important thing to remember about public relations (PR) is this: Even as a student or beginning practitioner, you are probably already doing it. Whenever you do good things for others, you are involved in PR. Even if someone begins to take better care of herself because you talked to her or provided her first massage, you have created successful PR.
Why Public Relations?
The purpose of PR is to help you reach out and promote a good relationship between yourself and the larger community.
It's good PR to:
- Give away your services to fundraising auctions
- Offer free chair massage
- Talk to people about the benefits of what you do.
PR or Publicity?
People often refer to PR as what a business does to communicate with the public through the media—newspaper, Internet, radio and television. We're going to refer to that as publicity. Publicity is one of the arms of PR.
- Gets your name out to people who aren't yet reaping the benefits of what you do
- Can spread the word about you more effectively than advertising
- Costs nothing more than your time
- Establishes you as credible, professional and expert in your field.
Make Yourself Newsworthy
To take advantage of publicity, you need the ear of the media. The standard form for sending information to the media, including the Internet, is the press release. Journalists have to choose from a flood of press releases, so you should have a hook in yours, something that really grabs attention. Look hard at why anyone but you would care about the information you want to publicize.
Here's how you can determine what is worthy of a PR effort.
1. Start by taking a look at your clients. Who are they? What are their problems? How are you helping them? What kind of results are you getting? If, for example, you are helping your clients live more comfortably with fibromyalgia, not only will people want to know about that, it also makes you a credible expert.
2. To be newsworthy, information should directly benefit your community—it should fulfill an unmet need, make people's lives easier or be new or unique. Your work probably meets more than one of these criteria. If you know how to help kids recover faster from sports injuries, that's news. You can mount a newsworthy PR campaign around it by making a presentation or giving away free massage at a sports event.
3. In another example, you may have opened or plan to open a business—this warrants a small notice on the business page. But ask yourself what benefit to the larger community can be found in your new business, and if so, mount a sizable PR effort. Are you hosting an open house where people can experience free demonstrations, meet your staff and learn how your services can benefit them? Will your business offer chair massage in a location that working people can easily access on their lunch hour?
Volunteering for charity events is definitely newsworthy and can make your generosity more visible to the community at large. You could participate in a charity gala that benefits children or those with a condition you work with, or you could sponsor a team for a Special Olympics event or walk-a-thon fundraiser.
Here's a helpful resource to show you how to write press releases that will appeal to everyone, not just journalists.
Getting the Most PR from Events
Once you are on-site at an event, such as a health fair or presentation, you can further promote your business with a drawing or by giving out brochures, self-care tips or newsletters. If that doesn't feel appropriate for the event, say if you are giving massage to people coping with a community crisis, simply having your business cards available or getting a mention as a volunteer in the media can help spread your name around as someone who really cares.