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7 PR Tips and Tricks that Still Work

In simple terms, public relations is about creating a brand image that generates positive publicity for the brand, usually through newsworthy stories.

But as our world gets louder and busier every day, with marketers and businesses bombarding our screens 24/7 with information, stories, and ads, our attention spans are getting considerably shorter. We’re skimming news headlines more and only stopping to read content that’s directly relevant to us.

It’s been said that the two ways to make the news are:

  1. To create a story, or
  2. To follow a story.

Creating a story seems simple enough, but identifying a narrative that will capture the hearts and minds of your target audience takes creative storytelling and a solid understanding of your audience. What’s in it for them? Why should they care? These are crucial questions to ask when you’re creating a story. It’s not about you or your business. It’s about the reader.

Following a story, by comparison, is a reactive approach of responding to trending events, market changes, or hot topics. With the right planning, this can be an effective strategy to promote relevant products and services.

For example, climate change has been dominating the headlines in recent years. This provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to introduce eco-friendly solutions that help combat global warming, especially when timed with notable events such as the annual Earth Day held on April 22nd of every year.

Whether you’re creating a story or following one, there are a number of PR tips and tricks you can utilise to ensure the effectiveness of your PR campaign. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between traditional PR vs digital PR before sharing our top 7 old-school PR tips and tricks that have stood the test of time.


Table of Contents

Traditional PR vs. Digital PR
7 Old-School PR Tips and Tricks that Still Work
1. Identify Your Purpose, Goals, Message & Success Metrics
2. Put Yourself in Your Audience’s Shoes
3. Pick the Right Delivery Platform
4. Find a Compelling Angle or Hook
5. Get Creative with Your Press Release
6. Choose Relevant Distribution Platforms
7. Develop Rapport with Journalists and Influencers
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Traditional PR vs. Digital PR

Gone are the days of relying solely on carefully crafted press releases and organising high-profile, often elaborate events that will entice media journalists to attend and write about.

Technology has introduced a whole new world of PR opportunities to businesses everywhere—from free publicity on social media platforms to easily accessed and shared online videos to influencer marketing and so on.

Where traditional PR was often limited by distribution channels, digital PR combines the best of technology with creative storytelling to optimise a brand’s reach and its ability to engage with its target audience directly.

Traditional PR mainly focused on mainstream media such as television, radio, and printed publications such as newspapers and magazines.

Digital PR, on the other hand, encompasses the following platforms, amongst others:

  • Social Media Marketing: The beauty of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok is their huge following and ability to engage with consumers openly and directly, which is a huge PR advantage.
  • Content Marketing: The versatility of online content formats, from blogs to videos to podcasts, has made content marketing a key PR tool in our modern digital age. With successful content marketing, a brand can establish itself as a trustworthy source of information and more importantly, a thought leader in the space.
  • Email Marketing: With the right content strategy and planning, email marketing can be an instrumental PR channel to build long-term relationships with your customers and keep them engaged in your product or service updates and events.

Even though the above are technically marketing tools, their PR-centric approaches and phenomenal success in boosting the visibility of PR campaigns (read on for examples) have made them an important part of modern PR practice.

Digital PR platforms are far more flexible and accessible, but their efficacy depends on the target audience and the purpose of your PR campaign. They might not be relevant to you and your target customers, but getting the fundamentals right, i.e. the approach and process, is much more pertinent to successful PR.

Here we share 7 old-school PR tips and tricks that remain just as effective today and will help you lay the right foundation for your PR campaign.

7 Old-School PR Tips and Tricks that Still Work

An effective PR campaign needs to take into account the whats, whys, whos, and hows. It’s much more than just a well-crafted press release or a quirky gimmick for a product launch. It needs to be carefully planned and thought out, with a compelling message that will resonate with your target audience on an emotional or intellectual level.

To get people talking, i.e. to create a newsworthy story, a PR campaign first needs to incite reaction—be it amusement, intrigue, emotional connection, inspiration or desire.

It should also consist of a series of related activities or events to generate maximum exposure and continued momentum. This calls for a holistic approach rather than ad-hoc PR activities without a clear strategy or plan.

1. Identify Your Purpose, Goals, Message & Success Metrics

Let’s go back to the basics, starting with the purpose of your PR campaign.


What is the reason for your PR campaign? Is it to:

  • Launch a new brand, product or service,
  • Improve your brand reputation,
  • Grow your customer base, e.g. by reaching new target audiences,
  • Reposition your brand, or something else?


Having a clear purpose allows you to identify specific goals for the campaign and determine where they rank on your priority list. This enables you to create a focused and cohesive PR strategy and plan.

Ideally, you should set SMART goals to enable easy tracking of your PR efforts:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

By making sure that your goals tick the boxes above, you’re increasing your chances of an impactful PR campaign.


Every PR story is centred on a core message. What is the main takeaway you want your audience to remember as a result of the campaign? It should be a simple yet meaningful message that’s aligned with your brand values.

Let’s take Dove’s award-winning Real Beauty Campaign as an example. They started the campaign in 2004 and have since continued it in different iterations. Its huge success was (and is) due to its instrumental role in starting the conversation about the ever-important issue of women’s self-image and perception of beauty.

Besides helping women feel more confident in their own skin and be more accepting of their individual bodies, Dove’s sales jumped from $2.5 to $4 billion in the campaign’s first ten years.

It’s been almost two decades since they launched the campaign, but its powerful message continues to resonate with women all over the world. And Dove’s brand will forever be associated with #realbeauty. It’s no wonder the campaign is so often cited as a PR success story in marketing literature.

  • Success Metrics

What does a successful PR campaign look like to you? Clarity of your purpose and goals is key to answering this question.

If the purpose of the campaign is to launch a new brand, and your goal is to build a customer base of 50k users in the first 3 months, one option would be to capture the relevant customer data at the point of purchase for tracking.

If, however, the goal is to build awareness of the brand, it will be much harder to evaluate success as the goal is not specific nor easily measurable. That said, social media platforms provide an easy way to monitor trending references to your brand or campaign via relevant hashtags.

The more specific the goal, the clearer and more defined your success metrics will be.

2. Put Yourself in Your Audience’s Shoes

Most businesses make the mistake of focusing their PR campaign (or marketing activities) on themselves rather than their audience. The rule of thumb in marketing and PR: put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

What’s in it for them? Why should they care?

Whether your audience is the consumer, general public, journalists, or media owners, the same principle applies—the story or narrative needs to cater to their needs and interests first and foremost.

But creating a targeted and focused narrative requires you to know your audience. A common practice is to identify the different customer personas you are targeting. Your typical customer persona should detail the following:

  • Basic demographics: age, sex, education, disposable income, willingness to purchase, etc.
  • Problems they have that your product or service solves
  • How your product or service is superior to your competitors
  • Common values the customer shares with your brand
  • How informed and involved they are in the purchase process
  • Their priorities when making a purchase decision: price, quality, convenience, accessibility, personalisation, etc
  • What are their trusted sources of information? Mainstream media, social media, friends and family, online reviews, etc?

The more information you have about your audience, the better you’re able to speak their language and address their needs and desires. PR seeks to motivate the audience to engage with the brand, like in the example of Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign. It’s why the most successful PR campaigns resonate with the audience on a personal level.

3. Pick the Right Delivery Platform

Now that you’ve created your customer persona(s), you can decide on the best delivery platform that’s easily accessible to them. Does your target audience prefer mainstream media such as TV or radio? Or do they hang out on social media platforms such as Instagram or TikTok? The delivery platform you choose will affect your overall strategy and implementation.

Remember the ALS #IceBucketChallenge? The campaign was simple. It involved recording an individual dumping a bucket of ice over their own head and nominating three friends to accept the challenge via social media. The campaign was an instant hit! Celebrities such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg participated, which provided a powerful endorsement and compounded the campaign’s viral success.

A new report found that donations raised by the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge increased The ALS Association’s annual research funding by 187 percent, resulting in growing collaborations between researchers and significantly advancing the field of ALS genomics.

The ALS Association picked the perfect platform to deliver their campaign, which was equally well thought-out and designed to appeal to young social media users who care about meaningful causes.


4. Find a Compelling Angle or Hook

To sell a story, you need a compelling angle or hook that draws your audience in and arrests their attention.

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign was conceived as the result of a study of 3,000 women in 10 different countries, which sought to understand these women’s interests and motivations. When the company’s executives learned that only 2 percent of these women saw themselves as beautiful, they spotted a brilliant opportunity to start a conversation around #realbeauty.

Over the years, they’ve built upon the #realbeauty angle in different iterations, such as the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign, which features an artist drawing two different sketches of the same woman. The first sketch was based on the woman’s self-description, while the second was drawn from another individual’s description of the first.

The experiment showed an interesting pattern: the second drawing almost always portrayed the woman as more beautiful than the first. Through their Real Beauty Sketches campaign, Dove helped these women realise how critical they are of their own self-image and how differently they look through someone else’s eyes.

In another example of a PR campaign with a captivating hook, LEGO’s Rebuild the World Campaign was well-timed to address the need for unity, resilience, and creativity during the disruptive COVID-19 lockdown periods. The campaign was also perfectly aligned with LEGO’s core message that the ability to build anything begins during our early childhood years.

The campaign featured an epic LEGO installation of a 13ft globe showcasing imaginative lockdown creations by children from around the world. Displayed at LEGO House in Billund, Denmark, the installation is made of up over 350,000 LEGO bricks and elements, and took 2,700 hours to build. The globe acts as a powerful symbol of hope and positivity, reminding us of children’s endless creativity and openness to possibility.


5. Get Creative with Your Press Release

If you want your press release to be picked up and featured widely by the press and relevant media platforms, you need to give them a press release they’ll want to read, let alone publish. Journalists will always prioritise news that sell or attract online traffic.

HEINZ came up with an ingenious press release for a contest where participants were required to submit photos of burgers adorned with HEINZ condiments to win $25,000 and a number of exciting perks. Titled “Heinz Is Searching for Its First-Ever ‘Head Burger Artist’”, the press release depicts the contest as a head-hunting effort to find a so-called “Head Burger Artist”.

Creative, quirky, and intriguing, the press release draws you in from the first word and keeps your attention engaged throughout the release. In essence, the contest was a pure publicity stunt, but its unique and colourful spin gives both journalists and readers a strong incentive to keep reading.

Apart from quirky creativity, you can also appeal to the human side of your readers by focusing on the ‘feel-good factor’. When US brand Happsy, an organic mattress manufacturer, released a press release to promote their product, they clearly positioned their product as healthy and accessible to everyone.

The release was titled “Happsy Makes Organic Mattresses Accessible to Everyone”. The inclusivity of their press release instantly made the brand relatable to the masses and encourage higher engagement by both journalists and readers.


6. Choose Relevant Distribution Platforms

To maximise media exposure for your campaign, target media platforms that regularly cover businesses or brands in a similar industry or niche. Make a list of all relevant mainstream and digital media, as well as high-traffic news sites and blogs that favour similar stories.

There’s something to be said for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and its clever design, which gave it a built-in distribution channel, i.e. the participants of the challenge. By having each participant nominate 3 other people to accept the challenge, the campaign was guaranteed exponential publicity.


7. Develop Rapport with Journalists and Influencers

Last but not least, building strong relationships and good rapport with journalists and influencers is key to ensuring positive coverage of your PR campaigns. Having a solid network of journalists, high-authority bloggers, and influencers you know by name will increase your chances of favourable coverage and endorsements for future PR efforts.


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Renowned for our ‘No Bull’ ethos, we specialise in strategic marketing, public relations, and creative and social media solutions for targeted business growth across B2B and B2C sectors.

If you’re looking for professional consultation and guidance in creating memorable and successful PR campaigns, let’s talk!

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