Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to break into your industry or you are an established business of any size, your success is largely dependent on your reputation. Many different types of people can have an effect on your reputation such as customers, suppliers, employees and journalists. Their opinions of your business – good or bad – will affect the opinions of others.
Public Relations (PR) is part of your marketing strategy that focuses on managing your reputation through effective communication of your organizational message. It is the art of building and maintaining positive relationships and brand awareness in the public eye (AKA your target audience).
Simply put, PR is your strategy for getting your message – your story – out to your audiences. It is all about engaging your target audience(s) by connecting with them in some way. It should be complementary to your overall marketing and outreach strategies.
6 Key Factors of PR
- Media Relations: Building relationships with the media and other influencers with the goal of attaining editorial coverage (Not paid for). If you have ever read a story about one of your favourite brands, the latest celebrity gossip, or even a story about a politician, business owner, or prominent individual, chances are someone pitched that story angle to the media and they thought it was interesting enough to write about.
- Special Events/Experiential: Designed for both public and media outreach, these events usually have brand experience and/or informational components.
- Content Generation: Writing blogs and bylined articles both for your organization’s website as well as for other websites and publications is a great way to control your message.
- Industry/Competitive audits: Audits (research) will determine the best positioning for your organizational message in terms of making it stand out from your competitors.
- Crisis Strategies: As hard as you might try to maintain a positive image in the public eye, sometimes things go wrong. It could be a huge product recall, and it could be something as “small” as an internet troll leaving negative comments on your blogs. Having a crisis strategy in place before it happens is your best bet so you know exactly how to deal with it.
- Social Media: This is where there is a definite crossover with the rest of your marketing strategy. You need to make sure the messaging you are putting out on your social media channels fits with the rest of your outreach. It’s a great way to promote your story. It’s also a great way to showcase content across different mediums.
Why Your Business Needs PR
Your business would not go anywhere without some sort of customer, end user, network, or community of fans, which is why you need PR. You need to be able to reach them with your message.
PR helps your business to:
- Connect with your target audience both through direct channels and infuencer touchpoints (working through people, media, and celebrities who influence your target audience).
- Package your brand story for maximum effectiveness. A good PR strategy will create a foundation for your business to build its outreach and growth strategy.
- Get your brand and organizational story in the public eye on your own terms (ie. You have some control of the messaging that is out there).
- Define its voice. Your business is so much more than a brand name and a website. It has character, values, and purpose.
- Utilize a variety of outreach channels so you can tailor your strategy to your budget and your organizational culture.
Maintaining a strong presence on multiple channels while reaching your target audience is priceless when it comes to building a business. Most people think the cost of running a successful PR strategy will be too much, but there are ways to work within any budget. Your reputation and business success depend on it.
Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making it unique to you.
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