Public Relations. PR. It impacts all businesses whether you notice it or you don’t. Ultimately PR is all about influencing how your business’ reputation is perceived by everyone (not just in your industry). Employees, customers, competitors, suppliers, investors and potential future stakeholders. Everyone’s opinion counts. Their impression of your business impacts how they interact with you, from the first impression to one hundredth, it all matters. It will drive future decisions they make and can influence long term business success. Do they want to work for you? Do they to shop with you? Will they want to invest in you?
So, how does effective PR work and what can it mean for your organisation? I’m going to look at the following areas: corporate identity, communication and media management.
How do you want your business to be perceived? How is it being perceived? Two very different questions. Hopefully they should have the same answer, but if not, why? Corporate identity is a very broad subject matter. So, let’s look at breaking it down further. For simplicity, lets split it into two parts, brand and reputation.
Branding is not just logo and colour pallet. It’s messaging, graphic impact and most importantly a visual embodiment of your business. Your brand should be aligned to your business mission and offering. This element of corporate identity is extremely important. It needs to be consistent, aligned and unique. After all, it is this brand that will be on every single piece of communication to every single stakeholder. You must be confident in what you have. A good brand can be advertised without directly referring to products and services.
Great brands partner great reputations. Take a moment to think about your personal reputation and that of the business. How people see your business, as mentioned before, is of vital importance. If you have a fantastic reputation, great, use it to your advantage, sing from the roof tops. Customer service, product quality, lead time, personable employees, expert professionals. Whatever your reputation is based on, let people know! It’s no good keeping these things a secret, it’s an asset, just not on your balance sheet!
But what about bad reputations. Be honest, be clear and be quick to put it right. Don’t hide it away. Hidden problems can grow and before you know it can take over! ‘We know that we have had problem x, but we know that we have strength y, so we are going to do z’. Respect can be earned from an accountable and proactive approach. Denial is dangerous, accountability is advised!
Effective communication is powerful. Again, communication is a very broad term, so let’s break it down. There are two elements to talk about, channels and tone. I’m not meaning to oversimplify, but touch upon two important parts.
How do you communicate with your stakeholders? With multiple online and offline platforms, selecting the most effective channels can be tough. Firstly, research is important. Ask people, read reports and gain analytical insight. Understand how you can best reach your target audience. Is it social media or a trade magazine? Is it email or phone? Or is it everything all of the time? Without meaning to sound like a broken record, be consistent across the channels. Set clear campaign guidelines and a strong implementation plan. After that, monitor. Learn from what’s happening and make the next campaign even better!
Each channel that you communicate through will have very different measurements of success. From click through rates (PPC) opens (email) impressions (social) readership (print) be clear on what success means for you.
Tone is another important factor. Broken record time again, consistency! Writing copy isn’t an easy skill for everyone and creating a tone of voice is a skill. Does your tone of voice reflect your brand? Does your brand reflect your business? It’s all linked. Think about the perception of a corporate juggernaut vs an entrepreneurial start up. Branding may be very different. Colour usage, taglines and logos would probably showcase a different offering. When you think about tone of voice, it most certainly would be different! There are multiple intricacies and nuances to tone of voice when creating copy, all of which can convey a very different message to the reader. Make sure your copy reflects you in the manner that you want it to.
Planned vs reactive. There can be two simple ways about how you manage your media plan. Firstly, planning throughout the year to hit important events in the channels you wish to engage in. This allows you to get your resources in order and also may give you more leverage in negotiating costs. Whether it’s advertising space in a trade magazine or an editorial on a digital platform.
Understanding what times of the year to focus on and what events to back is another element to consider. Make sure that you pick the events and times that suits you best. Don’t true to shoehorn your business into dates that there is little synergy with. Take a look at my previous blog for more information and insight.
Reactive media management is a way to make the most of opportunities that present themselves in the short term. Think about media articles, major news stories or industry trends that can really accommodate your business. Applying short term PPC campaigns, social media campaigns and other digital tools can ensure that you make the most of these small windows of opportunity. Think about those channels that you can get content out there quickly and to the right audience.
So, there is a whistle stop tour of PR (very condensed I know, but hopefully gives you an introduction into the service.
If you want to know more about how ib3 can help with your Public Relations, please get in touch.
Thanks for reading,