Public Relations (PR) can help solve many of the problems businesses face, such as getting the market to adopt a new product or securing financing from skeptical investors and institutions. But the most important reason small businesses such as self storage Vancouver or mailbox rentals Vancouver should invest in PR is to cultivate brand awareness.
While PR is different from sales, marketing, and business development, the credibility it generates serves as an effective tool for building all three.
Leveraging PR as a Sales Tool
Remember that PR and sales are not the same — the purpose of a business’s sales team is to bring in orders. Sales professionals use a variety of methods to drum up business, such as advertising and direct marketing. Salespeople tend to focus on the short term.
While PR can boost sales, that’s not its primary purpose. The goal of PR is to create and maintain a positive image for a brand, which it achieves by building and taking care of relationships among stakeholders — not just with customers and investors, but also with the press and the public at large. PR professionals take the long view, establishing the brand’s good character and nurturing people’s trust in it.
Toward that end, PR professionals cultivate relationships with the media and find avenues to work your business into the news cycle. They do this not only by telling your story to reporters in compelling ways, but also by landing you opportunities to showcase your expertise in educational, non-promotional guest spots.
The reason PR tactics tend to be successful is that many people dislike advertisements and sales-y messages. According to one Forbes article, “96% of people don’t believe that ads are truthful, according to Inc. Magazine. Consumers do not trust advertising, and one can’t blame them. Gallup conducted a survey asking people just how they would rate the honesty and ethical standards of workers in 21 different professions. Nurses were rated tops, with 85%, while advertising practitioners were fourth from the bottom at 10% approval rating, slightly ahead of car salesmen, telemarketers and politicians.”
PR enables you to get your brand in front of potential customers in a positive way that is likely to appeal to them more, which can create increased demand for your product or service. One of my clients received so many sales leads after starting our PR campaign that he was forced to stop answering the phone. While that is not a good thing, it shows how powerful PR can be.
Leveraging PR as a Marketing Tool
The first way to leverage PR as a marketing tool is by posting your coverage on social media platforms that offer a cost-effective way to spread the word about your brand and expand your reach. When you share your media successes, your credibility and authority increase, but when you share more personal details about your business or yourself, your audience connects with you on a more human level.
Another way to leverage PR successes as marketing tools is to splash them all over your website and create an “In the News” page. Sending this news to your regular contacts through newsletters and email can also keep you in front of your customer base in a positive way.
In my experience, businesses who never promote their media wins fail to get the desired results and return on investment from doing PR. It’s quite simple: no one will read a story if someone does not direct them to that story.
Leveraging PR as a Business Development Tool
Other businesses and potential partners want to do business with credible companies that have an established reputation and brand. They are less likely to form strategic partnerships with new ventures that have failed to garner media attention.
When reporters cover you, your team, or your business, it demonstrates that you are doing important, timely, and relevant work. It also shows that you are competitive in the marketplace.
That’s why doing PR can be leveraged as a business-development tool. Nothing makes you and your team look better to prospective partners than a solid track record of positive media coverage. No advertising campaign can lend you the same degree of prestige for the simple reason that everyone knows you paid for those messages yourself.
Get Started Doing PR
PR is necessary for growth, but small businesses that fail to invest in it can miss opportunities for positive media exposure and struggle to get to the next level. Neglecting PR can also make companies vulnerable to negative reviews and media coverage, which can damage their reputations. Don’t make this mistake.
The good news is that getting started is easier than many fear. A simple Google search can turn up the names of agencies that specialize in your industry, and initial consultations are typically offered for free. There’s no reason not to reach out and explore your options, since this first session is only to learn — not a commitment.