Why You Need a Public Relations Plan as Part of Your Overall Marketing Strategy
As a marketing and branding agency, we are often out and about in the community at networking events and meeting with business owners. When explaining our company and what types of services we provide, the topic of public relations is often brought up. I’ll get asked questions like: Is it really worth my time and effort? And what do we even get out of it?
When creating a marketing plan, small businesses often include things like social media, online and print advertising and SEO implementation, which are all critical to a healthy overall marketing plan, but many often neglect to include any type of PR strategy. The way I like to explain public relations, is that it falls under the “umbrella of marketing.” PR isn’t a stand alone strategy, yet it is a critical tool that helps supplement all other branding and marketing efforts.
HOW CAN PR HELP MY BUSINESS?
Public Relations can be one of the most cost-effective methods for small businesses to raise awareness and grow your brand’s presence in the community. The average consumer encounters hundreds of print and online ads on a daily basis. Since these ads have become so familiar in your day-to-day life, they can sometimes become lost in the shuffle.
However, PR plays a major role in the daily news stream and a unique role in your brand’s awareness. In many cases, it’s less expensive than purchasing advertising space, and can be incredibly valuable to a small business from a branding and community awareness perspective.
Unlike marketing which is focused on promotion of the company’s products or service, PR is primarily focused on your communication with the public. Paid ads can sometimes come off as “this company is just trying to sell me something.” Whereas with a third party endorsement, like a segment on your local television and radio station or an article in the local newspaper, it carries additional credibility and promotes a positive public image. When customers hear about your company from a local news source, it can often be perceived differently than an online advertisement or promotion.
PR TIPS & OPPORTUNITIES
Public relations can be a labor of love. It takes time and effort to get your story or message out to the general public. Below are some PR opportunities your business should be capitalizing on:
- New Hires or Promotions – Develop a “New Hire” press release when you bring on a new employee. Local business publications accept new entries for company announcements every week.
- Upcoming Events – Send out a media alert and press release announcing your upcoming event. Include who, what, where, when and why for attendees and reporters.
- Community Involvement & Philanthropic Efforts – Create a specialized pitch to local non-profit reporters explaining your work within the community, whether it is an event, sponsorship, volunteer effort or donation.
- Major Company News – Develop a press release announcing company honors, awards, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, anniversaries, move or new office building and any new products or services.
- Capitalize on National Observances – Take advantage by planning news announcements and story pitches around national observances. For example if you are a non-profit organization, make a PR push during the month of April for National Volunteer Month. Or, if your company is a builder/remodeler, plan an announcement for National Home Remodeling Month in May.
In addition to the tips above, take the time to research your local newspapers, online business publications, television and radio stations. Find out which reporters and editors cover your industry or service and be sure to reach out to introduce yourself and your business. Like many journalists or reporters in the news industry, time is of the essence because deadlines are fast approaching. Always be respectful of their time, they may have received your email or voicemail but just haven’t have the time to respond. So be sure to follow up.
Remember that leveraging positive PR is just one piece of your overall marketing strategy. Be sure to integrate your efforts with your current email marketing campaigns, social media strategy and other marketing tactics. There is no such thing as easy PR, some stories take more time than others to peak the media’s interest, however the relationships you build with reporters and editors are invaluable to your business’ long term public relations success.
A version of this article was originally posted to the Mangold Creative Perspectives Blog.