There are many ways to manage relationships and communicate with your customers – through traditional media such as print and broadcast as well as new channels such as online media, blogs and social media.
Public relations is often believed to be similar to advertising, but they each fulfill different needs. Public relations creates awareness of your product or service – crucial when building a brand. Advertising supports your brand in its process of becoming well-known.
Advertising vs public relations
Advertising is paid media, such as advertising space in a magazine, and you have total creative control of when, where, and how your messages appear. Public relations is not paid advertising, it is the process where a press release or your key messages are pitched to appropriate media, and if picked up and used by an editor, the public learn your messages within the credible context of the editorial in the newspaper, magazine or broadcast medium.
Why PR matters
But why is public relations beneficial to you? According to American marketing strategists Al and Laura Ries, “Public relations has become the most effective way to build a brand.” In other words, it can assist you in getting the word out about your company and your product or service to your target market. It can also be used effectively to help manage your reputation, which is your biggest asset.
The following PR opportunities (and some not so obvious but great activities) demonstrate how you can communicate and create a relationship with your target audience and the public:
- You could make use of the mainstream press – this means broadcast and print media either by sending relevant press releases or articles to them;
- Speaking opportunities at events such as conferences or exhibitions;
- By winning or being nominated for industry awards;
- Creating and maintaining employee communication;
- Through personal profiles on Facebook or Linked In;
- Networking opportunities such as parent-teacher association (PTA) meetings, kids’ parties and book clubs;
- It is also advisable to build and manage relationships with influential people in organisations which may be relevant for your business.
What’s your key message?
When you do an interview or write an editorial it’s important to make sure that you’re clear on the messages that you want to get across. Be specific; customers want to know details on how your product or services benefits them. Connect with them by understanding them, and tell your story with a fresh perspective.
Messaging creates a consistent story around your product, who you are, your company and the service or product you provide. You may also find it helpful to get outside assistance from a professional public relations agency.
To grow your brand as a business owner you can use public relations effectively and strategically; proper planning and professional assistance can assist you in reaching your business success. After all, public relations used well, can contribute greatly towards building a strong brand for your business.
Related: 5 PR Tips from Bond, James Bond
How are you promoting your small business to customers? Tell us in the comments section below…