Public Relations - Strategic Insights
An active and robust public relations program is crucial for building brand awareness, attracting investors, managing reputation, and driving growth. It serves as a bridge between an organization and its target audience, effectively communicating its values, missions, and achievements. We discuss what a strategic program looks like.
MARKETING STRATEGIESSTORY TELLINGLEVERAGEMARKETINGSEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATIONSUBJECT MATTER INFLUENCERSEARNED MEDIAPUBLIC RELATIONSPR
A targeted public relations program will increase positive brand awareness and credibility with influencers, investors, existing customers, and prospects through media/influencer coverage. This program can be used to educate and recruit potential customers, as well as brand advocates, thereby increasing growth and revenues.
While many articles conflate public relations and earned media, they are two separate and distinct strategies. How we describe the difference to our clients is that public relations are newsworthy communications that are developed and communicated by the brand using external assistance. Earned media are newsworthy communications about the brand that APPEAR to be developed and disseminated by a third party. I emphasize the word “appear,” because as we explained in “How Earned Media Can Boost Your Brand’s Reputation and Sales,” companies often assist in or actually create the content that is then disseminated by a third party under their by-line.
The Benefits of Public Relations
Brand Awareness – Arguably, one of the main reasons, and biggest benefits, you will derive from a well-orchestrated public relations program is increased brand awareness. This is done by carefully curating the content and distributing it in channels that you know your targeted audience frequents to get news and information.
You can target your audience by seeking out the publications, news outlets, or social platforms that you identified for them when you conducted your buyer persona study. Here are five major benefits and use cases for public relations.
Attracting Investors– A public relations program can be used to attract the attention of potential investors and to develop trust and confidence in your brand. When investors see positive stories about your brand on financial news programs or publications, they are more likely to want to become an investor. A central part of this is being seen as the thought leader for your industry or vertical. Most investors favor those organizations that understand the marketplace direction and trends. Demonstrating you are knowledgeable about the market and your place in it, will help bring in investors.
Reputation Management– While marketing is all about telling the public who you are, your reputation is what the public actually thinks about your brand. It is important to not only create and distribute positive stories but to address those occasions where there is a negative portrait of you in public. A public relations campaign can be your way of correcting the facts or explaining why, or how, the situation you are in happened. There are many PR opportunities where you can present a prima facie case that is not subject to immediate questioning. If you don’t properly manage your reputation, you will find it is also an excellent tool for crisis management.
Community Relations– To ensure trouble-free community relations, it is important that your community is kept informed of significant events that may impact them. It doesn’t matter if the community is a local town or an online community. Every business needs to be conscious of its place in its community and ensure good relations through open and transparent communication. This can be done by:
Driving Growth– We are firm believers that public relations can be an important component to driving growth and sales for your company. You can share strategic messaging that will showcase your product’s benefits and build excitement and buzz within your targeted community. One way of accomplishing this is to use PR to tell a story that will invoke an emotional connection with your audience.
Improved Search Engine Optimize (SEO)– If done properly, public relations can improve your performance SEO by providing high-quality backlinks to your website from news outlets that have high domain authority. One highly effective way of accomplishing this is creating thought leadership pieces that have informative industry insights. Ensure the SEO strategy Is Integrated with the media relations strategy. Maximize search engine efforts by incorporating keywords into the positioning, messaging, and media placements (blog content, third-party, and bylines) to try to facilitate more backlinks that underscore the overall marketing strategy. This will also contribute to industry growth, revenue, and profitability.
What are Some PR Activities?
While there are many ways to roll out a public relations program, some of the more common activities are:
Press Releases – A press release is an official statement by the company that is delivered to news media for the purpose of communicating information. This can be done to increase visibility and brand awareness for a wide of newsworthy items, including product launches, new hires, promotions, awards, recognitions, industry research, or trends. It can also be used to help explain away bad behavior or negative information.
If you want to make sure that the story is seen, the best day to send a press release is on a Thursday between 9-5. If you want to limit the story being seen, the best day is on a Friday afternoon, before a long weekend holiday. This latter technique is often used by celebrities who are trying to provide an explanation but want to minimize exposure.
Proactive Media Pitching– If you want to stay top of mind and remain relevant at times when you simply do not have a newsworthy story, proactive media pitching of evergreen thought leadership information can accomplish this. This technique is very important when you are planning on seeking investors or selling your company and you need to be seen as relevant. Proactive story pitching requires working closely with the company executives to identify newsworthy angles to incorporate into creative story pitches for target media. These pitches are intended to:
Differentiate the Client from other companies in the competitive marketplace
Highlight the Client’s offering, its value propositions, and success stories
Take the Client’s story to a mainstream national audience
Monitor the Client’s marketing content to evaluate how we can leverage these to generate additional visibility in the media.
Rapid Response Pitching– Getting your key executive to be subject matter experts for events that are happening in a particular news cycle is a critical role for PR professionals. The term rapid response pitching is a bit misleading. It requires an extensive amount of upfront work. The PR team needs to have built relations with journalists or those sourcing the “on-air” experts. The PR team will have to have built the reputation and expert status of the company's executive, and then make sure they are top of mind when an event happens that they could speak to. Often, this means a rapid response call to pitch them as the expert that should be brought on.
Analyst Relations– This is the practice of engaging with independent research analyst firms to manage their perception and messaging about a product. Getting an analyst and influencers to see the benefits of your product can make all the difference and improve the trajectory of investments and purchases.
Awards Procurement– A good PR team will vet award opportunities and make submissions to help their client receive meaningful awards that showcase the value of the brand or its products.
Communications Infrastructure - A Public relations team needs to create and optimize the basic communication infrastructure including:
Press Kit Development - The press materials will include corporate backgrounder, fact sheet, management biographies, etc.
Editorial Calendar Opportunity Research - Research planned editorial calendars of target publications to identify appropriate editorial opportunities for the company. Then, develop and maintain an editorial opportunity matrix, including upcoming editorial topics and contact information. Editorial calendar opportunities need to be planned well in advance, as they have long lead times of 3 to 6 months.
Media, Blogger & Industry Influencers Database Development - Compile existing relationships and conduct further research to develop a comprehensive contact database covering the key media, bloggers, and opinion leaders in the industry.
Monitoring - It is important not only to monitor general industry trends but also any regulatory issues that might impact your client. A PR team should be monitoring their competitors’ media coverage daily and provide necessary follow-up.
Metrics Tracking - Compile and regularly update a media metrics report to highlight company's media articles and their readership numbers.
Today, we discussed the basic framework of a public relations team and the benefits an organization can receive. An active and robust public relations program is crucial for building brand awareness, attracting investors, managing reputation, and driving growth. It serves as a bridge between an organization and its target audience, effectively communicating its values, missions, and achievements.
Through strategic media relations, public events, and online presence, a well-executed PR program can significantly increase brand visibility and recognition. By shaping the narrative surrounding a company, PR professionals can enhance its reputation, cultivate trust, and establish credibility among stakeholders. Moreover, a strong PR program can also help attract potential investors by showcasing the company's strengths, achievements, and future prospects.
Ultimately, by effectively managing public perception and fostering positive relationships, a well-implemented PR program plays a pivotal role in driving growth and ensuring the long-term success of an organization.
In an upcoming article, we will discuss best public relations practices and the metrics that you need to be tracking to ensure the program remains on track and delivers results.