Having a product or service is pointless if no one knows about it! Consumers are exposed to anywhere between 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages every day. Public Relations can help you cut through the noise, get noticed and more importantly, be remembered, writes Elise Hendriksen founder of SHOUT PR.
Did you know 71 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy a product from a brand they recognise? That being said, ‘brand awareness’ isn’t the only reason to engage a publicist.
In times of uncertainty, like a pandemic, PR can help your business quickly communicate changes in operations or offerings. A publicist can help craft your messaging in times of heightened sensitivity, and quickly disseminate information to a wide audience.
When people come to me for PR support sometimes they come equipped with a deep understanding of PR and how it can impact their business and at other times, they need some guidance. I’ve heard expectations ranging from people happy with one media placement per month through to wanting to be on television every week.
What I often need to dig deeper for is WHY they want to be on TV every week – particularly with the decline in broadcast viewing. That isn’t to say they shouldn’t be aiming for TV coverage, just that they need to be able to articulate and analyse their motivations for doing so. For example, ‘I want to be featured on Sunrise as it’s well known.’ If this is someone’s reasoning, the ultimate goal for their PR strategy may be to raise their credibility rather than sell widgets – unless of course their core target audience is aligned with that of Sunrise.
Understanding the motivations for engaging a publicist or undertaking any PR activity is essential. If you want to raise your profile quickly to a mass audience you should target news outlets with the largest audience reach. If you’re looking to establish your product or service as a premium offer you may wish to target a select few luxury lifestyle publications. If your product or service is niche an industry newsletter with 2,000 readers or a micro-influencer with 10,000 highly engaged followers may be the best way to go.
Here are 5 benefits of PR to consider when developing your strategy:
1.Trust and credibility
Ever seen an ‘as seen on’ section of a website and instantly felt more comfortable about buying from them? Third party endorsement from reputable publications goes a long way towards reassuring customers, investors and other stakeholders of the legitimacy of your brand.
2. Improved SEO
To feature higher in organic search you need a number of factors working for you (e.g. fresh and updated website copy, keywords, etc) one of them being backlinks – the more backlinks the better and ones from reputable news sites help you rank higher.
3. Building an emotional connection with customers
Where a stereotypical advertisement might be pushing your product, PR is often sharing your journey and story to help people connect with and remember your brand and feel they are a part of your journey.
4. Content Marketing
By freely sharing knowledge and insights with your audience you can generate interest in your brand and contribute to wider conversations around your industry. Consistently add value by sharing your time and expertise to build a following.
5. Positioning you as an expert
By sharing your knowledge and expertise you can position yourselves as an authority in your space. With a considered strategy you can own certain narratives and become the ‘go-to’ person or company for comment around a specific topic(s).
In addition to understanding your own motivations for communicating, careful consideration should be given to your timing and approach. Relevance and empathy are critical to communicating through a pandemic. Take for example organisations that have gone to great lengths to improve the lives of their customers during this challenging period (businesses that are now delivering or moving all their operations online) compared with organisations that have been unclear on their response or come under fire for their less-than-consumer-friendly actions (airlines not refunding flights).
So are you ready for PR?
PR can only take you so far. If people engage with your content then click through to your website and it doesn’t load quickly enough, or they get put off by pop-ups, can’t easily navigate the site, don’t immediately understand what you’re selling or get put off by high shipping costs or unclear shipping information from the outset no amount of advertising or publicity is going to help! Similarly if your message and assets are fine but PR efforts are poorly timed, it may come across as tone deaf and do more damage to your brand than good.
Before you engage a publicist, it is worth checking that you have the following in place:
- Have a live and fully functioning website
- A clear understanding of who your competitors are
- A product/service offering with clear USPs (unique selling points) that set you apart from competitors
- Key messages you want to communicate (and why)
- A designated spokesperson(s) for your business
- High quality, high resolution imagery (300dpi 1-2MB)?
- Time to invest in PR each week or month
- A budget set aside for PR
Best of luck on your PR journey!