Crafting Your Public Relations Strategy

Public relation is the process of developing a public image for any business or brand. It is the function of PR to ensure that the brand, service or company is positively positioned in the minds of the public.

In the view of many experts, branding and public relation go hand in hand. Brand managers and other brand development personnel are accustomed to the PR concepts because they are responsible for ensuring that the brand has a positive public identity.

The basic characteristic of a successful PR campaign is that it remains invisible. Unlike advertising or marketing, a campaign leaves no trace of its existence in any form. It is the most intangible form of brand development and customer loyalty.

Hence, we can confidently say that public relation works towards news generation. When a brand launches a marketing campaign and news channels air its happening, it is also categorized. The viewer of the channel is totally unaware that whatever he/she is viewing is part of the PR campaign.

Public relations tend to work from behind the scenes. It never leads from the front; instead, it supports the brand from the back-end. Yet, it is public relations that take the company and its brand forward. Only through proper PR campaign can a brand succeed in generating consumer interest. Once the interest is generated, customer ends up purchasing the product. Hence, public relation can translate into profit generation as well.

Another benefit of a successful public relation campaign is that it brings the brand to the notice of the target audience. It results in providing the brand such mobility that it can conveniently walk up to the customer and convince him/her that it is what he/she desires.

However, it must not be misunderstood that public relation is all about messages and their delivery. In relation to brands, public relation is the crucial function of giving the consumers a feeling that “this brand is for me”. It creates an identity of the brand that the consumers can easily associate them to. It communicates to them the importance of a certain brand that can have in their lives. It gives them the confidence that no other product or brand can satisfy their particular need. And the best part lies in the fact that all this is done without the consumer even knowing about it.

Another objective that it achieves is that it creates feelings of familiarity and reliability in the consumer mind. Being marketers, we all know how critical building customer relationship is for the success of our brands. PR helps us in doing just that. Once a customer associates himself to a certain brand, he will always feel towards it as if it were his own. And this serves our purpose!

10 Components of Online Public Relations

The expansion of public relations into the online arena is essential, both for PR pros and clients who hire them. Public relations is broadly defined as “unpaid publicity,” setting it apart from advertising, or “paid publicity.” Thus, Internet ads, including programs such as AdWords, should be left to advertisers. However, many online activities are available at no cost and require original vendor-neutral content. Therefore, they can properly be undertaken by a public relations agency.

1) Blogs

Collections of short entries with a common theme, blogs provide original thoughts by the client and are often written or edited by a public relations professional. They should reside on the client’s website, contain contributions of 200-300 words, and be posted at least once a week.

2) Email marketing

The purview of programs such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, email marketing consists of a customized template with article snippets and an optional link, “click here to read more.” The link will drive the reader to the client’s website and thus increase traffic. Email newsletters are also useful in reminding prospects of your services by showing up in their email box every other month.

3) Social media

The “sexiest” element of online PR, social media gives the opportunity for visitors to post their thoughts and links to interesting articles, with the option of commenting on posts left by others, known as followers, connections, etc. The big three: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter should not be neglected, but social media is constantly evolving. Pinterest was all the rage for a while and more recently, Instagram has taken its place.

4) Website development

Creating new web pages is relatively easy to learn, and you can then use FTP programs to upload, download and edit pages at no cost. The ability to create new pages is essential for a client’s website to remain dynamic, react to recent developments in its field and stay ahead of the competition.

5) Media room

A media room gathers all the publicity about your client in one section of its website. It should contain categories such as press releases, email newsletters and bylined articles with a landing page for each one, a list of the publicity achieved and a link to the full document. A media room will grow as the public relations professional achieves publicity for its client.

6) Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization or SEO requires the creation of original content and increasing the number of inbound links going to the client’s website. Inbound links are simply clickable text on other sites pointing to your own. Google uses this parameter as a primary element in determining the ranking of websites.

7) Keyword research

Keyword research provides critical information in determining website content. You must find out what keywords or short phrases your clients’ potential customers are using when they are looking to purchase their product. Then, you can optimize for those keywords by including them in the clients’ website and “meta tags.”

8) Article marketing

Article marketing involves the creation of bylined documents and then posting them on “content provision sites.” These sites provide material for their visitors, but anyone publishing them must include the URL to your client’s (author’s) site, thus creating an inbound link and improving SEO.

9) Graphic design

Typically outsourced in traditional public relations, elementary graphic design such as cropping and resizing images is essential for website content and email templates.

10) Integrated communications

The ability to combine all the elements above, re-using content where appropriate (depending on copyright permissions), and using them in tandem with traditional PR, is essential to garner the maximum benefit from an overall public relations program.

What Kind of Things Can a Public Relations Firm Do For Your Corporate Business?

A company’s success can hinge on the relationship they have with the public and how they are perceived in the media. Some companies choose to try and handle all of these matters from the inside with their own PR department but others feel the need to enlist an outside service to ensure that all matters of public view and perception are handled by highly trained professionals.

A good public relations firm can take your businesses success to levels you never even imagined, but the question on many CEO’s minds remains, “Will the results obtained from enlisting an outside PR firm offset the cost we have to pay for the services?”

What can a PR firm do for You?

Establish Relationships

The key to success in any business is developing and maintaining solid relationships, not just with your clients, but with investors, vendors and employees. Most of the time an in house PR department can easily grow and maintain the relationships with customers and vendors, but it gets much more difficult for an inside department to handle relationships with vendors and especially other employees.

An outside firm can readily handle all of these relationships impartially, with only the company’s best interests in mind. This almost makes the company’s investment in an outside firm worth it without even considering all of the other positives they can offer – happy employees and investors make a much more productive work place and in turn can really drive the profits and, therefore, the success of the business.

Save you Money

It may not look like it at the outset, because the initial investment of enlisting a public relations firm can be reasonably high, but hiring an outside firm to handle all of your public relations can save your corporation a good deal of money in the long run.

Without a PR firm to do at least some of the work involved in overall company public relations, your corporation would need (depending on the size of the company) at the very least one, most likely several, full time employees. The hourly wage paid to these full time employees may seem like peanuts when compared to the dollars that would be paid out to a public relations firm, but when you factor in the benefits, paid holidays, paid vacations and overall annual salaries of these employees your corporation could end up saving thousands and thousands of dollars a year by hiring an outside public relations firm.

You can use the services of a public relations firm when you need them, and forego the services when you don’t. It’s not as if a member of the firm will be in your office collecting a paycheck – you pay for the services that you use and nothing more.

Diversity

A good public relations firm can often offer you much more than what used to be considered the basics of good PR. Many public relations firms today can offer everything your PR department and your marketing and advertising departments can do and more.

By enlisting the services of a good, reputable public relations firm you can effectively turn your own office into a lean and mean machine. You won’t have to cross train employees to take on roles that they are not comfortable or experienced with – your sales force won’t have to be concerned with any phase of marketing or advertisement. Your valuable sales staff can get focused on what they were trained to do – sell, while a PR firm takes care of developing the relationships and public perceptions.

Emergency Services

A public relations firm can bail you out of trouble in the event of a PR emergency. PR firm representatives are trained to handle all types of scandals or problems that crop up and can affect your corporation’s image in the public eye. Press releases can be quickly written and submitted and press conferences can be put together in short order to ensure that your company keeps its positive reputation with all of your current and potential clients, investors and employees.

Whether you decide to enlist an outside public relations firm to handle any or all of your company’s PR or marketing, solid relationships are the cornerstone of your company’s success. If you don’t have a rock solid PR department, than hiring a public relations firm could be the best decision for your company’s future.