Public Relations or PR is all about managing the reputation of your business. It’s the process by which you build trust, educate, inform, influence opinion and ultimately create good-will between your business and your target audience. It’s so much more than simply generating media coverage, it’s the backbone of every single communication that your business makes.
A PR campaign will help to build the credibility of your brand. It creates a positive public image and can help to position you as reliable and trustworthy. It also adds value to your business. If a publication has taken the time and trouble to write about you or accepted an article from you, it’s because they think you’ve got something that their audience wants to read or hear.
Undertaking regular PR activities will help you to build and sustain a successful business. It can also help you to develop a competitive advantage, if your target customers are seeing your brand name regularly it’s likely that you’ll be top of their minds the next time they need the product or service you sell. Media coverage can also help you to showcase knowledge and expertise, positioning you as an expert in your field.
Builds relationships with your customers
When your business is seen in a positive light then you and your employees become even more invested in protecting its reputation. This helps to develop good customer relationships and you’re likely to go the extra mile to support that good reputation. This means that your customer receives excellent customer service which in turn means they’re likely to recommend you, helping to spread the word of mouth buzz about your business.
Can help to drive sales
Think about it, if you’re seeing a particular company written about or talked about by a variety of media sources that you trust then, you’re more likely to engage with them and possibly even buy from them.
Set some goals
So where do you start when it comes to putting a PR strategy together? The first step is to set some goals for what you want your PR activity to achieve, bearing in mind that this is not a quick fix, and it will take time to build and needs to be sustained if you’re to get results long term. If you’re launching a new product or service you might set yourself the goal of securing 5 pieces of media coverage promoting it. Perhaps you’re looking to increase your client base and want to use PR to generate a series of news articles that position you as an authority in your field.
Choose your media with care
When looking for suitable media outlets for your story, whether that’s print, broadcast or online you need to be sure that their audience matches your target market. Spending time doing your research here will really pay off. Look out for journalists who are writing about companies like yours, or are interested in the field your company specializes in. Having a list of journalists and key publications will save you time and helps to keep your PR focused.
Do you have a news story?
So you’ve launched a new product, won an award, signed a new contract, employed a new member of staff. Whilst this might be good news for you and something you want to shout about you need to make sure that the story you put out stands up to the “So What” Test. Journalists need a really strong hook to get them to cover your story.
Don’t have a news story?
An effective strategy that many businesses use to help keep their brand in the media is to position key people as thought leaders. Participating in Q&A’s, opinion pieces all helps to build brand awareness. One of the best ways of doing this is to develop a relationship with a journalist, keep them informed of what you’re doing, whilst they may not pick up on every press release you send you’ll be front of mind when there is a relevant opportunity.
Your press release needs to contain the 5 W’s, Who, What, Where, When and Why. These act as the hook to draw a journalist in. Don’t forget to publish them on your website and link to them on social media. Making sure you’re distributing your company content as widely as possible will help create that all important brand awareness, you also never know who might be following you.
Plan to succeed
Your PR activity needs to be carefully planned. Whether or not you secure that all-important piece of coverage can come down to timing. Your PR strategy needs to take this into account, if you’ve got a new product that you want to get placed in the Christmas gift guides, for example, you need to be talking to the media in July. This also means you’ll need finished imagery and product too. Building relationships with journalists takes time. In many ways it’s just like networking – the more effort you put in the better the results you get.
Remember that PR is at the heart of all your communication. When you’re writing a blog post, creating social media content, meeting a new customer, attending a networking event, speaking to a journalist your reputation is under scrutiny. Think carefully about what you are saying and distributing as it reflects on you and your brand. If you have employees then it’s important to ensure that they take a similarly measured approach to the way they communicate. Reputations can be won and lost in seconds, just remember what happened to Gerald Ratner 30 years ago.