Don’t you hate it when you open a magazine and one of your competitors is featured and you just know that they’ll get customers from the publicity? You wonder why they were featured, and you weren’t. The answer? A public relations program.
Public relations (PR) is an extremely efficient method of communicating with a target audience – and it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Business owners can choose from a variety of simple and cost effective activities that will help achieve their business objectives.
The reason that PR works is that it provides third-person credibility not obtainable through paid advertising. In fact, it is said to have 10 times the impact of traditional, paid advertising, placing you above your competitors as the “top of mind” choice for customers, investors and business partners.
There are a number of elements to an effective PR strategy. The obvious is pitching in story ideas to the publications. But here are some other elements to a PR strategy you may not have thought about.
1. Embrace social media
There is nothing to be scared about; social media is just another form of communication. Social media allows any business to engage, listen, share and exchange ideas with consumers in ways that have never been done before. Most importantly – it’s free!
When it comes to social media you need to act just like you would at a real life networking event; you need to listen, respond, provide interesting conversation, monitor what people like, provide what people like and most importantly be yourself and inject a personality.
Don’t just stop at opening the accounts, you need to participate. If you behave like a bad friend, not sharing or ‘being there’ then you won’t get many contacts. Be open and give it as much time as you can.
You can never have too many contacts. From specific association networks to broad business groups, there are so many opportunities for business owners to network, but just turning up isn’t enough. And it isn’t just about getting new business either.
Running a business can be an isolating and stressful experience, but when networking you learn so much about different types of businesses, what is happening in the business community and have the opportunity to share your experiences.
Remember, good networkers also always follow up those they meet. It’s not about getting as many business cards as possible, but connecting with people. Try setting a goal for each event to get two business cards with the invitation to contact them and arrange a coffee meeting to chat in more detail.
3. Write an article
Writing and distributing media releases is just one way of getting media coverage. You can also write an article and pitch it to a publication.
Many publications are stretched for resources and welcome well written articles. You can write an article that positions you as an industry expert and offers topical, helpful information. Ensure it is written in an objective, informative and entertaining manner.
Make sure your article is free from blatant advertisement or advertorial. Research which publications your potential clients read, or simply pitch to your major industry publications.
4. Update your website
Did you know that search engines read articles too? Offering interesting and informative articles on your website is a great way of building credibility and getting people to come back to your site to read them. It is also a fantastic way of increasing your ‘Google ranking’.
The aim of increasing your website’s Google ranking is to feature higher-up in the organic search results that appear on the left-hand side of search results pages, so that potential clients can find your website.
You can write articles that include variations of the main keywords or search phrases people use to search for you, your business, your products and services, and your industry. If you are stuck for ideas on what to add to your website to keep it fresh, think about what has been happening in your business recently. Readers love to read positive things about your business.
5. Get customer testimonials
Getting customer testimonials seems so simple, however many people forget to include them in their PR & marketing strategy. Testimonials help to build credibility and trust for your business and are a very powerful way to position your business as an expert. Including customer testimonials on your website and in marketing collateral can also help to win new business.
Set aside some time to either ring or email your customers to ask if they would mind writing a brief testimonial. If they are short for time, ask them quickly to explain what they most like about your service or product and offer to write it up for them.