PR may not be a focal point of your current business strategy, but there are a few solid reasons why it should be. A public relations plan can be simple and economical to execute with a sizeable ROI.
What is PR and why use it? PR is a communication tool that uses earned media (versus paid media) to build relationships between a company and the public or other audiences. It provides a business and its founders or executives with a few key benefits: awareness, exposure, and credibility. Gaining that third-party endorsement of the media can go a long way toward establishing the integrity of your CEO or management team, as well as providing exposure for your company and increasing awareness of your products and services.
Whether you're in startup mode or are an established business, PR can be a valuable tool in your arsenal. Here are three easy-to-implement recommendations.
Share your expertise
Writing an expert article or speaking at an industry event can be a valuable way to share your knowledge and connect with important audiences. Industry trade magazines and local publications are often looking for contributed content to share with their readers. Pick a topic that you are well-versed on, and will be of interest to the readers or fits with the theme of the issue, and share your expertise in the form of an article. Or inquire about being a panelist or speaker for an upcoming event. Sharing your personal expertise can enlighten others on a particular topic or trend, provide fruitful networking opportunities, and even lead to new business prospects.
Tip: Make sure your content is original and stay away from sales pitches about your company or product.
Promote your news
Have you recently launched a new product or service? Did you grow your revenue substantially this past year? Have you hired new employees? Are you impacting the local economy? Have you created a new product or acquired other businesses? Press releases are the perfect way to share newsworthy information about your business. There are dozens of press release templates online that can be adapted for your business. After drafting your release, distribute the press release to local and industry media outlets and post the release to your website, social media accounts, and/or a wire service to enhance your company's visibility online. If you have a newsworthy story, consider pitching a reporter in your industry on an article about your business.
Tip: Do your homework before reaching out to a reporter. Know what they cover, recent stories they've written or hire a PR expert who will likely have existing and trusted relationships with the media.
Being engaged and socially connected with customers is a must for all companies today, including manufacturers. A recent article by Sujan Patel in Inc. magazine emphasizes the importance of customer engagement. "It sounds crazy, but the reality is that the people best equipped to sell your product might be . . . the people who have already purchased your product. And your ability to turn them into effective advocates for your brand comes down to the customer engagement strategies you adopt."
There are a variety of channels to connect with customers, including websites, social media, surveys, events, or emails, to enhance your existing relationships and drive new business. Explains Patel: "By going above and beyond to delight customers, sharing customer feedback on products, sharing success stories, surrounding customers with social proof, and creating educational content, customer success paves the way for advocacy."
Tip: Be authentic in your communication with customers. Share helpful information and relevant company news that drives interest and connection.
Working a few simple PR strategies into your business plan can be an effective way to promote your company, share your expertise and engage with customers for a lasting and positive impression.