Here’s some food for thought, if you have spent months or even years building a business, what is the one thing that is likely most important to you? The answer might be surprising.
In most cases, it’s what people say about you, otherwise known as your reputation. This equates to how the public - or your audiences - view you and relate to your business, and why PR is such a vital tool.
Looking back through history, battles have been fought and won based on reputation alone and today’s battlefield is the media in its many, many forms.
In the last 150-years, this used to be almost solely through the more ‘traditional’ press; newspapers, television, radio and magazines. But as the world has modernised and technology has made us more connected than ever before, there are so many more ways to communicate with your audiences.
Many of these tools and tactics now sit firmly in the PR sphere; traditional and digital publications, social media, blogs, email lists, I could go on!
It’s vital to take advantage of these, to attract and cultivate your audience, nurture them and keep them well informed, using all the tools at your disposal. It’s said that it takes a potential customer seven touchpoints before they will buy from you. And now we have all the tools to own those seven touchpoints ourselves before we even begin to think about media relations.
Different tools and tactics can include:
Social media - the key is in the name...
Social media has put us directly in control of our own public relations which has its pros and cons. While on the one hand, it puts you in front of a target or potential market, social media’s aim is simple - to be social. It works two ways. Your audience can now reach, engage, review and contact you at the click of a button without ever even speaking to you. My advice is to choose a platform that you have identified as a target for your audience and do it well - don’t make it a one-way conversation. Make sure that your excellent customer service record isn’t lost in the ether, along with your reputation.
- Blogs - great for sharing news, views and insight
Blogging is a tool that can help you to build your reputation as an expert in your field. While on the surface, you might be selling a brilliant product, what most of your customers won’t see is the behind the scenes expertise that goes into sourcing and producing that product. How did you come up with the idea, who else do you work with, why did you choose to create it the way you did? All of these questions can be answered in blog form on your website (and repurposed for social media) which will not only boost your reputation but your website’s SEO (how findable you are on search engines such as Google) as well.
- Enews - key for communicating with your customers or fans who have signed up to receive your news, offers and more.
These are the people who have actively gone out of their way to engage with your brand. They’re already half-way to buying your product or service so it’s really important that you keep them up to date with what’s new with your business, what’s new in the industry and what’s new with you. You are, after all, the reason they have engaged in the first place and through newsletters you can chat to them as if they’re old friends.
- Collaborations - teaming up with other parties to spread your messages to more relevant but potentially new audiences
If there’s another business out there that can add to your offer or compliment your brand - why not offer to collaborate with them? This could boost your target market considerably or open you up to an entirely new one, and will likely benefit the brand or person you’re collaborating with too. The best collaborations are always two-way streets, you should both get something out of them as that’s what makes it a truly authentic and attractive partnership. While collaborations between two local businesses, for example, are a brilliant way of raising your profile, think outside the box as well and collaborate with a relevant blogger or even a competitor.
- Media relations - liaising with the press
Last but not least, media relations has also changed in the digital world. While the majority used to be done via press releases and over the phone (and even via post or fax!), social media networks have put journalists at our fingertips. But the market is noisy. You still have to be creative and targeted in the way you approach them which is why it’s so important to do some thorough research before you start to engage with the media - both on the outlet itself and its target readership.
So, it’s fair to say the face of PR has moved beyond anything we could have imagined since the days of PR being all about long lunches, fancy parties and all the schmoozing! The media itself and the way we communicate has changed.
We very much live in a ‘digital age’, gone are the days of newspapers being the sole channel to obtain information. Now we have the chance to share our messages far and wide, the world is at our fingertips and it’s up to us to go out and embrace it.