An effective public relations (PR) strategy delivers many benefits including building credibility, increasing brand awareness, and differentiating a company from competitors.
But many business owners are unaware that good PR extends beyond earned coverage in the news. There are many ways SMEs owners can incorporate PR every day that work outside the traditional parameters.
I saw a fantastic example earlier this month with a new employee at Tiffany & Co.
The employee had posted an image of her new workstation to LinkedIn, which featured several branded items that welcomed her to the team. Amongst other gifts, this included a notepad, Tiffany box, welcome message, and keep cup – and of course, all in the signature Tiffany Blue.
This was a fantastic piece of PR for a several reasons.
It was personal
This is something unique to the Tiffany team, which builds a strong internal culture from the outset. Your staff are your biggest advocates, so before you start communicating messages externally, it is essential that your internal audience is happy.
There is no point talking about how great your company is in the news if your employees sing a different tune.
It communicated a message
Starting a new job is daunting, especially coming into a company as prestigious as Tiffany’s. The employee probably entered the office feeling incredibly excited but also incredibly nervous.
And then she was guided to what she expected to be a bare desk, only to find it decorated with branded gifts. Her nerves probably subsided a little after that. Why? Because this small gesture communicates something different about Tiffany’s brand identity. Suddenly, the company is not intimidating. Instead, it is thoughtful, considerate – more of a supportive best friend rather than a billion-dollar empire.
This is the kind of image brands strive to broadcast to the world, but very few successfully achieve.
It was shareable
This new employee took a picture of her workspace and uploaded it to LinkedIn. It was not shared through the company page or to a network Tiffany’s already has access to, but to an entirely new audience.
And to put the reach of her post into perspective, she and I are not connected on LinkedIn, but someone in my own network liked her post, hence why it appeared on my feed. I am now writing an article about Tiffany & Co.
That is good PR.
What PR strategies do businesses often overlook?
This case study exemplifies how small initiatives can help build a clear brand identity. Yes, mentions in the press are fantastic for businesses, but there is so much more to PR than that.
In addition to a personalised welcome package, as excellently demonstrated by Tiffany’s, here are another three things businesses can implement in their PR strategy today.
Reward employees with tailored gifts
Rewarding employees is an important motivator, but it doesn’t need to be limited to monetary items like yearly bonuses. Sometimes, a small but thoughtful gift can go a lot further.
Last month, as a thank you for the work done so far this year, my boss gifted me with a voucher for a facial. It sounds simple, but I had mentioned wanting one a couple of times, so her act felt considerate and spontaneous.
Then, I told my friends. They shared my response. Without realising it, through talking about this positive experience, I had become a brand advocate and built POPCOM’s reputation. And all it took was a facial.
Create shareable moments
Many businesses utilise the power of user-generated content to help cut through the noise. But, many fail to realise is that this does not need to be limited to customers. Your employees are influencers, too. And with a voice considered more objective than a brand founder or CEO, the content they share online will say a lot.
Engaging employees in company events, sports teams, and other activities is a great way to not only build a positive culture but build positive associations with your brand. Many employees will share these moments across their socials or through word-of-mouth to friends and family. This user-generated content can feel more authentic and reliable than content shared on a company page.
Celebrate small wins on a larger platform
Simply acknowledging an employee’s work can go a long way to building a strong internal culture and external brand reputation. We suggest you do this in three ways.
Firstly, in direct conversation. It seems obvious, but often the obvious is overlooked. Your employees must see genuine and authentic appreciation, and nothing beats an in-person acknowledgment from a superior they look up to and respect.
Secondly, using internal communication channels. This might be company newsletters or in platforms like Microsoft Teams. Celebrating their wins with other colleagues and peers is an opportunity to build a strong, supportive internal culture. Additionally, it will motivate others in their work too.
And thirdly, on public platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or the company website. This will enable the employee to share their success with others outside of work, including friends and family. It is also a great way to build brand reputation externally, and through networks outside of your own.
As you have likely realised, all these PR strategies involve your employees. They are your biggest brand advocates. And like it or not, their opinion of the brand they work for will often carry more weight than a company spokesperson or founder.
If you have built a strong internal culture where employees feel supported and valued (as you should have, regardless of external perceptions), then you are probably already doing PR without realising it.