By its very nature, public relations (PR) is all about getting attention, standing out, being noticed and creating relationships with an audience … your ideal audience.
PR is creating powerful relationships to build your brand. It is about telling stories that connect. More than ever people want to do business with people who actually care about them. Using different PR strategies, you can create a ripple effect of connection and relationships that will boost your business in ways paid advertising and traditional marketing never will.
Forget everything you know about mainstream PR – which is getting your name in the media (you still want to do that). It is so much more – it is everything you say, everything you do and everything others say about you.
It is the way you interact at a networking event. The blog you write every week. Your posts and interactions on Facebook. The information you share on LinkedIn. The information you share freely. The podcast interview you do. The great customer service experience you provide. The way you answer your phone. Everything you do in service of your business, your clients and prospective clients is about PR.
Caught in a trap
Many businesses fall into the trap of working IN their business and not ON their business. Caught up in the day-to-day activities of servicing clients, marketing and PR are overlooked. The 21st century catch cry of ‘I’m too busy’ is not going to get anyone new clients or the media attention craved.
There are so many platforms for you to use – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, blog sites, LinkedIn, articles, networking, presentations etc. You can take one piece of content and adapt it for these platforms, making your life so much easier.
Think of PR as planting a seed. A plant will only grow if you get the basics right – good soil, fertiliser and water. PR is the same … let’s start with the basics and where many people go wrong.
Make the right turn
There is something to be said about planning for success. So many start a business because they are awesome at what they do. If you want people to take notice, have the marketing basics in place.
- Target audience nailed – so you know who you are talking to
- Content – the story of your business and you so people can connect with you
- Overall brand – logo, key messages, pitch, images, brand promise
- Marketing and PR plan – it does not have to be complicated
- An idea how you are going to generate leads, calls to action, marketing materials
- Website with content that not only sells but tells a story
- Social media platforms that speak to your audience
If you get this right, marketing and promoting is much easier.
Once you have the basics in place, you can then start planning your PR campaign. Remember, it does not have to be complicated. You do have to be consistent. You also have to think outside the box. So many people in business are scrambling to be featured in mainstream media – be interviewed on a popular breakfast TV program or be in a daily metropolitan paper. Great for the ego … but not helpful to build your profile on an ongoing basis.
What you want to strive for is a mix of PR – stories in mainstream and local newspapers, an interview on radio, engaging social media content, podcast interviews, articles contributed to online magazines your target audience reads, blogs, videos, webinars, eBooks, books, talks, networking…
Digging for story gold
Once you tick off nailing your business foundations, created a plan and identified your key PR tools, it is time to start generating content. These are the stories that will engage, inspire, empower, educate and connect with your prospective client. Before you protest you have nothing to say ...
The answer is you have a product/service you’ve developed that meets a need in the market … something people want or need. If that is the case, and there are people willing to buy from you, they are also willing to learn, connect and build a relationship with you. Business in the 21st century is no longer about features and benefits; people want to do business with people, not a logo or business name. Your prospective client wants to know who you … and you care beyond closing a sale.
To find story fodder, use these 5 ideas to get started:
1. Your business story – How and why you got into business.
2. A controversial topic - Do you have an opposing or conflicting view to a topic? Can you share little known facts or secrets in your industry?
3. How tos and lists – create stories based around the problems you solve.
4. Google it – find stories in your industry/topic/niche and put a new spin on them. What can you add to the conversation?
5. Sign up to SourceBottle – journalists are always looking for good stories. They post here daily
Your brand. Your Story
Seth Godin says “The brand is a story. But it's a story about you, not about the brand.” Why? “The story includes expectations and history and promises and social cues and emotions.” We want to connect with people. Businesses that tell stories as part of their marketing mix stand out because they understand as human beings we want more than an exchange of dollars for product.
Yet, knowing stories are the great connector and how people want to do business now, so many people in business shy away from storytelling because they do not want to brag about themselves or they feel they have nothing to share or don’t know where to start. If you want to get noticed, rise about the clutter, you have to embrace storytelling (or get someone to do it for you).