Is your business neglecting public relations? Every business owner knows that you need an effective marketing strategy to reach potential customers. Marketing efforts are one of the largest contributions to a business owner’s expense budget. Your business needs an effective public relations strategy to achieve maximum return on investment.
Typically, when small business owners and entrepreneurs first consider marketing, advertising is what comes to mind. Advertising includes tv and radio commercials, banners, flyers, and even business cards. There is a big difference between advertising and public relations.
Advertising is a paid strategy that builds exposure with guaranteed placements of your marketing materials. You have complete creative control over what gets shared, where it is shared, and with whom it is shared. Advertising can get very expensive and consumers tend to be skeptical about what they see in ads. When was the last time you clicked on a “sponsored” listing in a Google search result?
Public relations (P.R.), on the other hand, builds trust right from the start. If you have ever been in any of my training classes, you will have heard me mention that marketing is simply communicating the value you have to offer to your target market. It is a conversation. Conversations naturally develop trust and rapport as you build a relationship. P.R. is the strategy business owners should use to facilitate these relationships.
P.R. describes the relationship between the public and a brand, celebrity or other influencer. P.R. not only immediately earns trust but it is also less expensive than advertising. P.R. allows business owners and entrepreneurs to take advantage of third-party validation to raise brand awareness. You have little or no control over this public perception so more time and energy must be devoted to managing relationships.
Everyone knows that businesses make the most money from customer referrals. The purpose of public relations is to create a positive word-of-mouth buzz about your brand. P.R. helps create this buzz. P.R. includes tools and activities like media tours, press releases, speaking engagements, newsletters, social media posts, special events, and philanthropic ventures. Each of these activities can create opportunities to develop relationships with your target market and generate positive social proof of your brand value.
An effective marketing strategy incorporates both (paid) advertising and (free) public relations. Now that you know why including P.R. in your marketing efforts is important, here are a few tips to get you started.
Tips to Get Started Creating Public Relations
- Develop your brand story. Think about what you want the public to know about who you are, what you do, and how you serve. What feelings or emotions do you want to evoke from prospective customers? How do you want them to experience your brand? What impact will your products and services have in their lives?
- Share your story. Write blog and social media posts, host networking and learning events, contribute to relevant causes, and send out press releases. Communicate your value as often as possible.
- Connect to influencers. Identify the movers-and-shakers within your industry. Befriend, follow, tweet at, and retweet them. Seek ways to be of service to them and their audiences. Think about ways you can form collaborations and joint ventures. Demonstrate your value.
- Build media relations. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert in your field. Contribute your voice and expert opinions as a qualified source to relevant newspaper or magazine articles, television or radio shows, and other news outlets. Join free subscription services like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to receive daily media inquiries direct to your inbox. My expert opinion has been featured in relevant articles like this one on NBC News approximately 10 times in just the past month.
- Manage your reputation. Consistently seek ways to control your brand image by managing what is being said about you. Deliver exemplary customer service by being responsive to customer needs. Ask for customer feedback and prioritize continuous improvement. Create customer loyalty and referral programs. Google yourself, your company name, and your offerings to stay abreast of the conversation. Outsource to reputation management services like Brand Yourself as needed.
Your business needs to add public relations to your marketing strategy. P.R. is a free or inexpensive means to increase brand awareness and generate massive referrals from word-of-mouth. Remember, I’m always here to help so contact me if you want to explore how to develop your brand story and develop a successful marketing plan.
How are you currently using P.R. to market? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below and if you found value in this post, please do share it with your networks.