Business owners may face Public Relations and communications problems on a day to day basis, many are straight forward and some are a little more complicated. Before I get into the problems let me get back to basics:
“What is PR?”
It’s funny because I get asked this question more often than I care to admit and whilst to me it’s very simple and straightforward to many business owners looking to hire a PR agency there are blurred definitions that cause confusion and disappointment. I think one of the best definitions that I have found is this one from PRSA:
The “strategic communication process” element is my favourite part of that definition. All too often business owners seem to think that PR covers everything from sales to advertising. Whilst it can have an impact on sales it is different, click here for this great explanation on the difference.
So here are 3 problems that PR can helps to solve, although it might not be able to fix every single business problem these are the key ones that PR can fix if implemented correctly:
Weak Brand Reputation: Sometimes a company’s reputation can start to falter, this could be for an array of reasons but usually it’s due to ineffective communication between the customer and the brand itself. With a consistent and unified approach, Public Relations can really help to maintain the brand reputation of a company and/or entrepreneur. The ability to ensure that the brand reputation of a business is held to high regard can really make the difference between high levels of customer retention and low brand loyalty. Use PR to share good news stories and communicate best practice to the customer base and the wider community.
Social Media Crisis: In the social media age, how a business copes with a PR crisis is now more important than ever before. It can take just a few hours for a business to start trending for all of the wrong reasons and without a PR crisis management strategy in place the damage to a company’s brand may appear to be irreparable.
Poor Customer Services: The media is now more accessible than ever before, journalists frequently seek interesting news stories via social media and members of the public also approach media outlets directly when they have had a poor customer services experience. PR can be used to improve communication between the customer and the business. Negative feedback can be used to create a change within a business and also improve the relationship it has with it’s customers.
These are just 3 problems that PR can help solve but of course it should not be used in isolation. Every member of your business team should seek to help resolve any issues that your business faces and if you’re a sole trader then take the time to really focus on what needs to be done to fix your problems.
Media relations can have a huge impact on brand building, visibility and credibility and is one of the most sought after services of PR agencies. Earning media coverage for your business can stand the test of time (subject to not experiencing a crisis) as it helps to maintain reputations, builds trust and can often reaching audiences in an authentic,often less overwhelming way than intensive advertising for example. Media relations is powerful but the issue that many entrepreneurs and small business owners have is understanding how to achieve media coverage for their businesses and understanding how to harness the power of the media.
The PESO model created by, Gini Dietrich offers an excellent illustration of how layered the media is and how powerful it is when you assess these layers.
When looking at how media relations can have an impact on your business here are a few things to remember:
Strategy – Remember that when you are seeking media profiling that there has to be a strategy in place, ego driven press profiling is unsustainable and will have very little impact on how your business is perceived by its target audience. Think about who your core clients are and what audience you want to reach using the media – mainstream media is great for reach but it may not have any impact on your target market so really take the time to assess WHY you want to achieve media coverage. You have to ensure you have a plan, goals and prepare for your media relations process both in the long term and short term.
Relationships – Hiring a PR agency or consultant is useful because they usually have established relationships with journalists or media outlets. If you are an entrepreneur or business owner considering undertaking your own media relations campaign then take the time to invest in networking opportunities and building relationships with journalists both online and offline. Social media is a great way to connect with journalists as well as industry networking events or other creative means of connecting with journalists like press lunches/conferences.
Newsworthiness – Remember that the press is an ecosystem which not only feeds the wider public with content and information but it is also responds to what its audiences want. So remember that your relevance is crucial when connecting with editors, journalists and media outlets. Think about who will be consuming the news about your business and why they should care. You can write a press release or you can respond to what current topics are trending. If you are an individual/founder you can also work on your personal brand to become a notable subject matter expert who is called upon to discuss industry relevant news.
Preparedness – There is little point in undertaking media relations if you are not ready. This includes undertaking media training, knowing what to do in a crisis and having a long term plan to ensure your media relations campaign is not just a one off hit but an ongoing long term process which coincides with your other business strategies. If you are aiming for major coverage in mainstream press make sure that your operations are strong enough to handle the new found “fame” – if your business gets featured by one of the world’s most popular media outlets can your website cope? Do you have enough stock? Are your employees ready for the new found attention? Consider this before chasing coverage that you might not be ready for and which could turn a potentially great situation into a negative one.
In this video I highlight some of the tactics that you can use to achieve media coverage and raise your brand visibility. This video also provides you with some easy to use PR tips which will give you the courage and confidence to get your brand out there!
Whenever a potential client approaches Ariatu PR to undertake media relations as part of their PR strategy I ensure that I ask a number of questions to ensure that they get the best service possible but one of the main questions is: DO YOU HAVE A STORY THAT IS NEWSWORTHY?
Everyone thinks that they have a “story” and although many stories are interesting from an anecdotal, inspirational angle they may not be interesting from a media angle.
Look at what is happening in the news and what the media outlets that you wish to target are currently reporting. Will your business/professional story be of interest to them? What is the intention behind sharing the story?
Have you written a compelling press release which makes it easy to see why your business will be the “next big thing”? There are so many factors which can lead to a winning media relations campaign not to forget how powerful social media has become in attracting media attention. So many traditional media platforms are using stories that are trending on social media to build day-to-day content. So as you can imagine there is a lot of work that goes into shaping a story for a media relations campaign within PR.