March Your Way To Effective PR – episode 2!

What is PR?

When I ask people what PR means, even now, I’m amazed by the range of responses I get. From ‘it’s marketing’ through to ‘it’s about the press,’ right through to the correct answer which is, ‘public relations’.

There are in fact several definitions here are just three-

  1. Chartered Institute of Public Relations: Public Relationsis the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.
  1. Public Relations and Communications Association: Public Relations, or ‘PR’, is all about the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build a positive reputation and public image. The way an organisation is represented in the media has a huge impact on how people perceive it. PR professionals try to influence the media to represent their organisation positively and communicate key messages.
  1. Oxford Dictionary:  the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person. The state of the relationship between a company or other organization or a famous person and the public.

The truth is that every business needs to do PR, as those who really understand it know that all of ‘marketing’ comes under the umbrella term PR – not the other way around.

The trick then is to learn which ‘PR mix’ is going to work for your business and the truth is, that will be different for every business depending on the service or product offered. Also that ‘PR mix’ will change as a business develops. Broadly speaking, what you do will increase over time, not decrease. The bigger the business, the more PR it will do.

The truth is working with someone like me, who specialises in press or media relations may be suitable, or we may not.

In my view, business is 30 per cent your product or service, 20 per cent the art of doing business, (all of that stuff which has to be done, which is not your core purpose), and the rest is PR. Without PR, your business will not exist. It’s no good having the best product or the most amazing service which no one has heard of.

Here are 13 things which can be seen as part of a strong PR strategy:

  1. *An up to date, responsive, secure and mobile friendly website.
  1. Consistent and relevant social media activity aligned to your target market.
  1. A healthy and consistent relationship with the media, in all of its forms, to ensure that regularly journalists, writers, influencers are telling others how great you are, or how great your product is.
  1. Advertorial – target spending with publications on and offline where you are sharing stories which are highly relevant to your desired clients. You pay for space because you want absolute certainty that your story will be seen by those people.
  1. Videos – a highly visual way of showing people what you do, how you do it, how you create it and how wonderful it is, or how wonderful you are through the most powerful form of story-telling. Video is powerful because it hits all of the senses at once, and also it creates emotion and people buy emotionally (by and large).
  1. Networking – getting to know other business owners, often in your own physical community, to make contacts and develop relationships – they can become your ambassadors, advocate, referrers or sales people.
  1. Business Shows – turning up at shows as punters or exhibitors which are relevant to your business – specialist or geographical.
  1. Printed marketing material.
  • Business Cards for physical networking; always good to have contact information to give to people.
  • Presentation folders with information about the different services you provide, which can be kept together in one place.
  • Company brochures with detailed information about your company. Perfect for trade shows, when you only have a short time to communicate information.
  • Catalogues, if you sell products, that clients can take away and browse through at their own leisure. Also, they will have information when they want to re-order.
  • Thank-you cards are a good way to let customers know how much you appreciate their business – or you can opt for ‘lumpy mail’ sending gifts at appropriate moments.
  1. Branded vehicles. Branding your vehicle puts your business in front of potential customers every time you take to the road. Depending on how many vehicles your company owns, and the locations in which they travel, they can be seen by thousands of people every day. Attention grabbing brightly coloured, well designed branding can catch the attention of other drivers when sat in traffic jams or at traffic lights, which is why it is important that it is done well. Many trades brand their vehicles, because they are seen locally in the areas where they are required. A branded van parked outside a house where the plumber, gardener or builder is working is a great advert for anyone else needing similar work or repairs. One note of caution, when you are driving a branded vehicle, any bad driving can be more easily reported back to the company!
  1. Branded clothing. There are specific types of business where branded clothing is important, for example, care home workers.  When care workers visit people in their own homes, a uniform, or branded clothing is a visible check to recognise the company, and adds that extra bit of security. Branded clothing can also be useful at trade shows and exhibitions, for people to link you to your brand, if you leave your stand and are walking around during the event. When working at events where there is high security, again, it’s helpful to have branded clothing.
  1. Newsletters. Keeping customers updated with your latest news, offers, and upcoming workshops helps to keep you in their minds, and gives them something interesting to read each month (or however often you produce them). They become your VIPs so treat them as such with special offers.
  1. Photo opportunities. Use your mobile phone to capture quick images when you are out and about with your business. Photos of you visiting interesting places, or your products on display somewhere special all add to your credibility. However, also pay for professional images of you and your team, and if your business is product led, make sure you have professional images of your products too. Pictures are important, but bad pictures make an impact – just not the one you want!
  1. Promotional giveaways. Everyone loves to have freebies, and the business community, and your clients are no different. Pens, mugs, notebooks, with your brand logo, or brand colours are all good investments. Every time they have a cup of coffee or tea in your mug, you are literally in front of their face!

Next week’s blog is all about – What is internal PR?