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An important, but frequently overlooked approach to small business promotion and marketing is media (relations) and public relations. In addition to advertising, sales letters, and face-to-face selling, most well-executed marketing plans include one or more of the following public relations tools: press releases, media interviews, editorials and guest columns (written by you or an associate), seminars and workshops, public speaking engagements, social media marketing (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram,) and special events.
A major component of public relations marketing involves "planting" feature stories or news in newspapers, magazines, television or radio programs, relevant blogs, press release distribution sites, and websites related to your business, organization, product, or service. When a favorable story about your business or organization appears in the media, you not only gain the short-term benefits of the positive publicity, but you can use reprints of the article as a powerful marketing tool. Enclosing a copy of the article with your brochures, presentation folders, welcome packets, and sales letters can boost your credibility immeasurably.
Public relations, like other forms of marketing, should not be haphazard or unplanned. Ideally, you should create a 12 month marketing/PR planning calendar in which you map out the marketing strategies and methods you're going to use each month and how your public relations campaign is going to factor into that strategy. Keep in mind that the more your target audience sees and hears the name of your organization or business, the easier it will be for you and your associates to sell your products, services, or point of view.
In conjunction with public relations planning and putting your name out there on a regular basis, here are a few other important principles and ideas to bear in mind as you pursue your PR/public relations objectives:
- Consider publishing a newsletter for clients, prospects, and the media. Creating a blog and posting updates on a regular basis can also be a good way to reinforce your public relations efforts. Whether you're a work at home freelancer, starting a new business, or managing a bustling downtown office, a blog can be a key part of an integrated marketing strategy.
- If you have a new or expanded business, hold a grand opening and invite the media.
- Conduct a press conference if you have something major to unveil or announce.
- Hire a public relations consultant or agency if you need advice or help.
- Take a reporter to lunch (especially if you have a newsworthy story to pitch).
- Be consistent in you message and your image.
- If you're scheduled to be interviewed, anticipate questions and rehearse answers with an associate, friend, or spouse.
- Reinforce your marketing message and positive image in your ads, direct mail campaigns, packaging, sales presentations, speaking engagements, trade shows, press releases, press conferences, and all other contact with the media and the public.
- When you're talking to the media, don't say anything which is "off the record" (it might just end up in print or on the air!).
If you're an authority on your industry or any topic, make that known to the local media. Send them a press packet containing an introductory letter, a studio-quality photo of yourself, a bio, and any appropriate newspaper clippings, brochures, fact sheets, press releases, your business card, resume, and perhaps a page of testimonials or a letter of recommendation(optional), preferably from a community or business leader. It all depends on the situation, your field, and how well established you are. The intention is to have reporters call you for a quote or an interview the next time they do a story on your area of expertise.
Better yet, become proactive and suggest story ideas to news writers and reporters. To increase your effectiveness in "pitching" stories to the media, get to know as many writers and editors, as possible, on a first-name basis.
Becoming known as an authority in your field will call positive attention to you, your business, your organization, or your cause. Not only will that increase your visibility and raise awareness, but it may also result in getting invitations to speak to groups or to conduct workshops. Once your public relations "machine" shifts into high gear, you find yourself achieving more and more success, in terms of generating favorable publicity, enhancing your public image, and attracting customers, clients, members, patients, business associates, or donations, depending on what your objective is. Promoting yourself, your business, or your organization through public relations does take confidence and self motivation, but the marketing benefits can be well worth the effort.
Learn how to write successful press releases, even if you have never written a press release before! Discover what works in PR!
Success Strategies for Public Relations MarketingExcerpt from On Target: The Book on Marketing Plans by Tim Berry and Doug Wilson
Public Relations involves a variety of programs designed to maintain or enhance a company's image and the products and services it offers. Successful implementation of an effective public relations strategy can be a critical component to a marketing plan.
A public relations (PR) strategy may play a key role in an organization's promotional strategy. A planned approach to leveraging public relations opportunities can be just as important as advertising and sales promotions. Public relations is one of the most effective methods to communicate and relate to the market. It is powerful and, once things are in motion, it is the most cost effective of all promotional activities. In some cases, it is free.
The success of well executed PR plans can be seen through several organizations that have made it a central focus of their promotional strategy. Paul Newman's Salad Dressing, The Body Shop, and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream have positioned their organizations through effective PR strategies. Intel, Sprint and Microsoft have leveraged public relations to introduce and promote new products and services.
Similar to the foundational goals of marketing, effective public relations seeks to communicate information to:
- Launch new products and services.
- Reposition a product or service.
- Create or increase interest in a product, service, or brand.
- Influence specific target groups.
- Defend products or services that have suffered from negative press or perception.
- Enhance the firm's overall image.
- The result of an effective public relations strategy is to generate additional revenue through greater awareness and information for the products and services an organization offers.
Goals and Objectives
Good strategy begins with identifying your goals and stating your objectives. What are the goals and objectives behind your public relations strategy and can they be measured and quantified?
Each of these areas may reflect the goals your public relations campaign may seek to accomplish.
Communicating news and information of interest about organizations in the most positive light.
Product and service promotion
Sponsoring various efforts to publicize specific products or services.
Promoting a better and more attractive understanding of the organization with internal and external communications.
Communicating with key individuals to positively influence legislation and regulation.
Advising decision makers within the organization regarding the public's perception and advising actions to be taken to change negative opinions.
More PR tips on getting a competitive marketing edge with Public Relations.