We’ve all heard it: tough times call for smart moves.
Public relations is arguably one area where creative strategies can build your brand in various ways – without breaking the bank. This is in contrast to traditional advertising campaigns where even a great deal may involve a major price tag.
But my telling you to spend on smart public relations is like a minister advising you to go to church more often … what would you expect? So, let me build my case and you be the judge.
Definitions of public relations abound. It boils down to an organization establishing a brand and public image – or “aura” – through everything it does that helps to sell its product(s) or service(s). Moreover, when the figurative lid blows off – whether a lawsuit, product recall or whatever – you better move quickly to control damage and manage your reputation.
Particularly when overall budgets are cut, public relations becomes all important to keeping your business visible to your particular publics – whether that’s a trade niche or Joe Six-pack. If you don’t think visibility is important, just ask any CEO what happens to the bottom line when a company is invisible to its customers.
10 Ways to Use PR to Boost Your Brand, and Your Bottom Line
- Be picky: Secure media coverage only in those outlets that position your company as the industry thought leader. Helping reporters do their jobs by providing relevant material makes you stand out. Go beyond the press release – comment on trends and offer solutions. Then you have a leg up when the economy rebounds and customers look to expand again.
- Merchandise coverage: Media coverage provides credibility. Use placements unabashedly to open doors with customers.
- Plan for a crisis: Consequences of neglecting issues can be swift and painful. Rumor and speculation can drive down the value of companies overnight. To survive an attack, organizations need a strategic crisis management plan – and team – that can be activated instantly.
- Get good counsel: When potential “issues” present themselves, it’s important to have a firm that can act when you’re caught in the spotlight. That counsel must be seasoned, responsive and creative, drawing from experience and connections that those embroiled in the issue may not have.
- Join the conversation: Social media tactics – blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – advance your business goals by putting the public back in public relations.
- Get involved: Develop a meaningful community involvement program through a charitable program you can “own” or champion. You can join an effort like the YMCA Partner With Youth campaign, start your own scholarship program, or be the presenting sponsor of a charitable event. Real participation builds company morale and provides positive exposure
- Don’t spread yourself too thin: Trade shows can be a money pit. Identify only those shows and sponsorships that have the best payback.
- Hit the street: Explore grassroots and viral programs that can yield exponential effects.
- Avoid the DIY pitfall: You say you can do PR yourself? If you don’t have the time – or talent – to make it happen, find an expert.
- Ride the wave: Once you get traction, keep the snowball growing. Relationships are built and nurtured over time, and it’s difficult to jump back in if you stop communicating. The media is always looking for that “faster gun” – someone to take your place in the limelight. By staying the course with a strategic public relations plan, you can maintain the customer and investor trust and brand you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.
Still not sure? Test the waters. Establish a budget that you can live with and give PR a six-month trial. If the plan is on target, that’s long enough to reap early benefits and make you a believer.