In our previous post, we outlined how PR (public relations) is still an important part of your marketing… but as an element of your mix, not a standalone item. There are also important differences in PR today than how it was handled in the past—which was heavy on one-way communication to the near exclusion of interaction. Instead, an approach that communicates with customers and prospects, celebrates both company and consumer wins, and seeks to be a good neighbor to all, is a PR recipe that benefits a company and those it serves.
Building on this updated understanding of public relations, these are some approaches you can take to have successful interactions with your audience and grow your business’s online presence at the same time.
- Press releases: The classic press release is so commonly equated with public relations that “PR” can sometimes be mistaken as standing for it. These documents are often rather formal, and distributed through official company channels as well as any number of companies and websites with “pr” or “press release” in their name (and/or URL). The truth about press releases is that they are not a complete public relations approach, but they can be an important part of the mix—and effective when composed skillfully.
- Social media campaigns: While the good ol’ press release communicates one-way to the public, social media is intended to be, well, social. Well-managed social media (both organic and paid) builds conversation and community around your brand, and is a powerful means to connect with buyers and prospects in many forms (text, image, video, direct messaging, etc.). It’s also an incredibly dynamic platform for allowing customers to get an inside look at your company’s inner workings, and both interact with and share the experience.
- Niche networks: The big social platforms aren’t the only place where you can relate with your public. Many industries have birthed niche social networks focused on the interests of their smaller (and more specialized) community.
- Paid advertising: Sometimes the quickest way to connect with prospects is paid advertising. But in this social economy, it’s a PR opportunity that can make you really stand out when you recognize that all buyers are people… even when purchasing on behalf of a company. If you meet a need people are searching for, build stellar ads for search engines using tools like Google Ads. If you’re brand new and unknown, but have a well-defined buyer persona, look to display ads across Google’s network or on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
- Charity partnerships: Giving for the sake of getting will not win you fans. But when you build partnerships with charitable organizations that you truly stand behind, both you and the organization can benefit as that relationship is publicized. The values of the organization help your prospects to understand your corporate identity, and your support of the organization can encourage others to partner and contribute to their needs as well.
- Reviews and testimonials: When your happy customers speak well of you, you should shout it from the rooftops! Well, maybe not… but you can definitely celebrate their positive sentiments, publish them on your website, and highlight them on other platforms (like social media and search).
- Customer stories: In contrast to testimonials, which focus on your company story, another excellent opportunity is highlighting the stories of customers whose experience with your brand, product(s), or service(s) has met a need—and exceeded expectations. Your customer is the hero, and you’re the resource, and that’s excellent PR.
- Newsjacking: Stay on top of the news cycle and stories that are either relevant to your business, or for which your business is relevant. When you have valuable content to add to what is happening in the world, you’ll not only be more valuable to your existing customer base, but you’ll have a unique opportunity to get in front of a larger group of prospects.
- Be an information source: Is your business expertise-based? Even if you sell a product rather than a service, you may be surprised to discover that your knowledge and expertise can be informative and valuable beyond your company walls. Build relationships with local news outlets, civic organizations, and local high schools or colleges to provide valuable information that may (or may not) lead to sales or a laborforce but will definitely lead to a growing trust within the community. And for a larger platform, look at resources like Help a Reporter Out as a broader platform to contribute beneficial (and quotable) content to print and digital platforms.
PR, like so many other promotional platforms, has had to weather rumors of its death. But current digital trends that focus strongly on social media actually highlight how important it still is to relate to the public. You can—and must—use the tools effectively to build your brand, maintain your reputation, grow your business, and avoid missteps that could sink the ship.
Need help building a PR plan as part of your marketing mix? It’s not the PR of yesteryear, but public relations as part of a solid SEO, content, paid, and social approach shows that you have your finger on the pulse of your audience—or would like to! Give us a call or contact us to get started planning your effective multi-channel marketing plan.