First seen on SIA blog (10/23/13)
If public relations isn’t part of your marketing and sales efforts, you’re missing out. In its simplest terms, the goal of public relations is to create a favorable opinion of your company, service or product among your audiences. This favorable opinion elevates your brand and can ultimately influence your audience to buy from, invest in, partner with, or join your company.
While media coverage remains a huge part of PR, today public relations encompasses much more than that. Content creation and promotion, messaging, speaking engagements, award recognition, and social media engagement are all important components of a PR program.
And PR strategies can include media relations, analyst relations, public affairs, community relations, reputation management and crisis communications, too.
Regardless of the combination of strategies and tactics you use, PR is about increasing brand awareness, building thought leadership and establishing credibility for your company. These PR goals support lead generation and sales, and can accelerate the buying process.
So how do companies use PR to differentiate themselves and build their brands? A simple start is to become part of the conversation. You have unique insights based on what you are seeing in the market every day. You see clients’ pain points. You see the challenges of your industry, and most likely have answers and solutions to them. You may be able to share data and knowledge that others would love to learn.
Ready to begin? First, identify what it is you want to share. Develop just a few key points you want to make. They need to be different than what others have already said. What are you bringing that’s unique to the conversation? Talking about your own products and services won’t make others listen. But sharing insight and trends that matter to your audience will.
Then, determine how you’d like to communicate this expertise and knowledge. Do you want to share your thoughts with the press? Do you want to speak at industry events? Would you like to author a weekly blog that showcases your insights? What about hosting a webinar or a live Twitter chat?
Engagement is a Two-Way Conversation
A key thing to remember is that you don’t have to do all the talking. You should also be engaging in meaningful dialogue with others on these same topics of interest. Share content from other industry influencers, journalists, clients, prospects, partners, and they’ll take note. Soon they’ll be paying attention to you, so be ready with something meaningful to say!
If your focus is on a local market, be sure you’re commenting on articles in your online local business journal. If your niche is in a particular industry that’s relevant nationwide, secure a bylined article in a trade magazine. If you want to connect with other businesses in your area, volunteer to speak at a local industry or Chamber of Commerce event.
Securing a speaking opportunity, landing a press placement or engaging in online dialogue is a big first step. But there are a lot of ways to leverage those amazing opportunities: you’ve got to promote them to maximize impact. This means sharing them with your audiences via social media posts, emailing customers and VIPs, and posting them on your website. It also means when it makes sense, equipping your sales team with them to add value to clients and prospects.
These sales touch points should not be used to say “Look at me! Look at me!” They need to add value. Would you rather read a self-promotional article about a third party or an article from which you can take away something meaningful that helps solve a pain point or makes your life easier?
For example, if your media coverage gave tips on ways to better manage your workforce with the ups and downs of the economy right now, share that with the prospects who would benefit from gaining that same knowledge. If your latest speaking engagement revealed the ways you’re seeing an industry change in your market and how to manage through that change, share those insights with clients that are struggling with those same things.
PR is all about making connections with your audience and providing value. Create engaging content and ignite a conversation. Build a community of followers and you’ll start to build brand loyalty. PR can take your brand to another level and make you stand out from the rest. When integrated with other sales and marketing strategies, you’ll start to see the returns.