As a business owner, you’re sure to have heard of the term ‘Public Relations’, but it’s possible you may be a little in the dark about what it actually means as part of your marketing strategy. Corporations and larger companies have entire in-house departments dedicated to PR, as well as employing specialised agencies who have working relationships with media outlets and journalists.
So what’s the difference between advertising and PR? Advertising, traditionally, takes the form of paid advertisements on TV, in Newspapers and other printed material, such as posters, brochures, and now Social Media. PR, on the other hand, is more about getting the media to talk about you; finding a niche and a story that makes you interesting to journalists so they can fill their never-ending need for content. PR is also about your public image, very much based on your brand and how your business is perceived through various forms of publicity. These days, your Social Media platforms contribute significantly to your PR and brand image, though please don’t confuse paid advertising on Social Media with your overall public image.
The image you create and how you are perceived can make or break a business, so PR is an essential element in managing your brand. There are 3 core ways in which PR can impact the public perception of your business and ultimately your lead generation and sales:
1. PR helps to develop your unique brand identity
Your brand identity is the personality you create for your business, including your values and how you communicate with the public. Having a clear understanding of your uniqueness and how you want your service or products to be perceived is essential if you want to develop a PR strategy that will enhance your brand identity. Keeping a consistent message across all of your communication outlets is imperative and good PR will allow your brand to be recognised across a variety of platforms and markets.
2. PR grows trust and builds a community
PR plays a key role in developing consumer relationships. Building a community of fans and loyal supporters will increase your database, your sales and your reputation. How you communicate with the public, especially in the open arena of Social Media with its trolls and negative talk, can establish how interactive you are with your clientele. If you stick to your values and ethics, you will create a trustworthy environment, which, in turn, will encourage the growth of your community.
3. PR builds credibility more than advertising
Advertising has always had an undercurrent of cynicism and mistrust. The consensus is that businesses will ‘say anything to sell products’. However, PR creates a ‘word of mouth’ culture and a reputation is built on what others say about you, not what you say about yourself as a business. If you can find customers, journalists and media outlets who love what you do, your business will grow in credibility faster than a competitor who has not created a strong brand identity or trustworthy relationships within the community.
So what are some of the effective technologies and strategies you can use to create great PR for your business?
We’ve already discussed that creating a ‘word of mouth’ culture is a great way of enhancing your public image. By creating good working relationships with journalists and publication editors, your business can become the ‘go to’ authority for your industry. If you are lucky enough to establish these relationships, always ensure you nurture and strengthen the connection.
Video Marketing is another strategy you can use to create good PR, especially in the world of Social Media. Video allows your community to see you ‘as you are’ and establishes a connection with your audience. Even though your authenticity needs to shine through, make sure your videos are filmed to a high standard. In this digital age, the image your videos create is important. If you are seen as ‘amateur’, you may alienate some of your coveted audience. Even if it’s just a ‘Facebook Live’, which possibly means an ‘outdoor’ production, always ensure the image and sound are high quality.
Hosting events, either online or in person is another way of connecting with your desired community and target audience. Everyone loves a party, so creating an event or launch of a new product /service will encourage positive engagement and might finally get you over the line with a journalist you’ve been trying to connect with.
Who you associate with, and cross-promote with, is important. It’s easy to be judged by association in our highly digital and critical world, so ensure you ‘hang out’ with businesses that have similar values and ethics. Finding ways to partner and collaborate with other brands, either in your industry or others, is a popular way of enhancing your PR.
In summary, it’s true that PR was more of a ‘buzz word’ a few decades ago, but it’s still an essential part of your marketing strategy today. To grow a good reputation and be successful in business, you must have a great story that grabs attention and you need to tell that story in a variety of ways through all kinds of media outlets. You must also ‘talk’ directly to your potential customers, clients and collaborators in a way that personifies your brand and creates a community of loyal fans. That’s what good PR is all about. It’s about enhancing your trustworthy and community-based company – not just finding ways to sell more of your products and services.
Here at District32, we use our events and associations with ethical and reputable businesses to drive our PR and our business. If you are looking to collaborate with other businesses or boost your PR to build a great brand personality, we have connections, associates, and professional PR strategists who can help. Feel free to reach out to discuss how the right collaborations can impact your PR and your business.