When thinking about the kind of publicity you want to garner for your company or cause, begin with the end in mind. So what's "the end," you ask?
While not the end-all, be-all end, securing media coverage is, at the least, a pivotal milestone in any Chicago-area public relations journey.
And what's at the top of that coverage when it appears in print? A headline, of course.
As a result, when conducting PR workshops in the Chicago area, I tell participants to get three things: a pen, a piece of paper and a "dreaming cap." Most have already arrived with the first two elements...as for the third item, well, that usually takes a few minutes to add to their repertoire.
That is when I prompt CEOs, entrepreneurs and association leaders to craft a few "dream headlines" for their organization. In short, what would be the ideal headline that tells the world about you and your company?
With the rise of user-generated media websites, in which anyone can simply post their own news releases, the dream-to-reality gap isn't all that vast. Just be sure to find someone who knows how to write the release in newsworthy, journalistic style, as opposed to the self-serving glorified ads that characterize so many "standard" news releases.
Getting back to that dream-headline brainstorming exercise, for an insurance agent who has won a service award, it might be:
Oak Park insurance agent goes extra mile, gets national industry acclaim
For a mortgage broker who used to work in the clothing industry, it might be:
From clothing to closings: mortgage broker changes gears, careers
For a massage therapist looking to promote her practice around the holidays, here's one:
The rub on gift-card giving: Elmhurst massage therapist sees boom in business
Regardless of the product or service, creating these "dream headlines" helps you focus on that area, or those areas, which you want to accentuate with your external communications.
Once you have put form around those dreams, it's then simply a matter of creating the content--again, it should read like a news feature, not an advertisement--that turns them into a real, bona fide PR campaign.