Reputation is one of the most valuable assets of any business. You have the choice of either leaving it to chance or taking control and ensuring you can create the image that reaches your target audience. The choice you make involves the use of Public Relations, whether in-house, or by employing a specialized communications agency.
The competition in many well-established industries is fierce. Nearly half of new businesses fail within the first year and very few reach the pinnacle of success most ambitious new entrepreneurs envision. Out of the 100 million startups that launch every year, there are only about 170 internationally that are valued at $1 billion or more.
A successful PR campaign begins with a great idea and grows with hard work, execution and timing. Some of the most successful companies in the world can trace their success back to a single PR campaign. The story of Tesla, KFC and even Apple come to mind. Despite the monumental odds against these companies expansion, they were able to launch a PR campaign and grow their companies to unparalleled heights.
Today we’ll focus on the initial and perhaps most important step, the launching of a PR campaign. And I’ll share some tips that can help your grow your business to new heights – whether that is to the ceiling or to the heavens.
1. Planning and Controlling Your Audience
Today, “control” has a negative connotation. That’s not only unfortunate but simply not always true. You can control someone’s attention and it can be great for the both of you. If a person was on a raft in the middle of a raging river and they were headed towards a waterfall, would you control them? Would you yell out? Would you do everything you could to help them? If you answered “Yes.” then you agree that control can be positive and helpful.
Another example is in marketing and PR. Let’s say that you know that your product can benefit others. No matter what your business, most exist with the idea of helping their customers in some way. Nearly every single business in existence holds this as a true statement.
So with this in mind, you now want to plan on ways to communicate the benefits of your product or service – not to “everyone” but to your specific clientele. You want your message to go to your audience, your public, your exact and precise customer. This is the goal of marketing. To get your message into the hands of the person interested in buying your product or service. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing.
Do you like the things you like? Do you want the things you want? Yes, you do. So what’s wrong with letting people know that you have what they are looking for? Nothing, if it’s done knowingly and for a good purpose. I want Ferrari to control my attention and tell me how I can get a Ferrari. I like Ferraris. I’m OK with Ferrari advertising to me as much as they want. I welcome their ads. I don’t particularly want to see ads for ways I can insure my car – I already have insurance and I’m particularly happy with having to pay it every month and never use it. You see, that insurance ad is unsolicited. I don’t want it. But the Ferrari ad is different. I want it and I want to see it. In reaching me, Ferrari has delivered their message to the correct audience. Even if I don’t buy now, I will eventually and I’m OK with receiving their ads.
Using the example above, you can see what happens to me, as a customer. Now let’s reverse this whole scenario. Let’s now say that I am the Marketing Director at Ferrari. I know there are people out there that want to see my ads. They love the cars, they are loyal to the brand and of course, there are also people that have not really seen Ferrari yet (or at all) and I want to reach them and get them interested as well. So, knowing this, I’m now going to plan and control my audience.
First, who am I marketing to? Who am I speaking to when I write this message? Well I know from surveys that 65% of sales of Ferrari 488 GTBs were from males 45-50 years of age. OK. The first ad is going to be directly to these people. A direct, effective message delivered to straight to them. Next, there are 10% females aged 35-40. OK, now I prepare a new ad. This one is directly to these women. Next are the remaining 25% which is “general public.” The only problem with thinking that there are “general public” is that there is no such thing. There is no “general public” and when you try to reach them, your marketing falls on deaf ears.
Planning must be done to control your audience and to reach your target audience. Targeted marketing works because the message is delivered to the right public. Controlling your audience works because you are giving your audience something to do. Advertisements are effective if they get interest, provide a solution and provide directions on what to do in order to accomplish something. Sometimes the message is that the company does that thing the customer wants like, “We clean your house for you!”
Effective PR begins with a plan and involves controlling your audience.
2. Prioritize Credibility Building
A good news story is worth about 3 to 5 times more than conventional advertising. Let me explain.
With our advancements in technology and the growth (and reliance) of people to be on their mobile devices, there have been sweeping changes to the way we do business and market. Just how one accomplished this credibility change has, well, changed.
Google has recently proclaimed that mobile versions of websites are now considered to be the “primary” version of the website – NOT the desktop version. This is a full 180˚ turn. However, not everything has changed. Optimization is still the required and the establishment and growth of credibility is still extremely important.
What are we talking about when we talk about credibility building? Building trust as a primary action. An easy example of credibility building can be seen on Amazon. The most trusted brands are those with the best reviews. These reviews substantiate (in the eyes of the consumer) the credibility of the company selling the product and the product itself.
So that brings us back to news stories. Conventional advertising is generally self-paid promotion. Fine. No problem with promoting your brand, we all do it. But for as long as there has been advertising, there has been the almighty word-of-mouth! Most consider word-of-mouth to be the #1 form of advertising and for good reason, who better to trust about a brand, product or service than your respected friend?
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the review. The “I am just like you and I like this product.” The ultimate indication that a “friend” recommends this product – the positive review. And thus the credibility of the company, product and brand are established.
But what about broad promotion you say? Sure, word-of mouth works in a home, a village or even a small town but how can you reach the masses? I present to you the “news.”
News stories have the curious ability to influence people and are generally more effective than conventional advertising. This is not to say that you drop out conventional advertising, it must be done, but to highlight the importance of news stories as they relate to ranking an online property.
Simply put, Google highly values news stories, much in the same way that the general public values the news. Their effectiveness should not be underestimated.
3. Expand Your Reach
Public Relations require the use of all your networks. To make the most of your advertising dollar and PR campaigns, you need to make new network relationships with writers, publishers and even reporters who cover your field, can do you favors, and are credible in their own areas of expertise. These people can hold the key to your success. They often have the ability to reach vast amounts of people and influence them – both powerful tools in building and establishing a brand.
Reaching out and contacting these individuals can be easy. Obtaining working relationships with them can be more difficult but is often worth every ounce of time and effort.
At Massive, we’ve spent years and hundreds of hours developing these very types of relationships to the ultimate benefit of our clients in all walks of life and types of business – worldwide. These relationships have enabled us to assist multi-million dollar businesses expand and startups take off.
Cultivating your audience and creating a campaign can be simple if you are prepared, have a plan and execute it. Massive specializes in this. So hiring a professional organization founded on these principles of operation can be a wise decision. But there are alternatives.
A search online will provide a list of possible connections you can make to expand your reach immediately. These are the connections you will want to establish in order to grow your audience and promote broadly, to more people. Look for:
- Social media networks
- Press release sites
- Online forums
- Online Magazines
- Editorial publications
Once found, reach out to them. Ask questions, tell them about your brand, and ask them for help. You will eventually get in the door somewhere and everyone starts somewhere.
4. Stay Consistent
The easiest of the rules or suggestions in the launch of a PR Campaign is also the most important – STAY CONSISTENT.
One of the easiest ways to bumble an entire launch or fail at business is to be inconsistent. So here are a few rules to live by:
- Do not change your message often. Keep the same message as long as that message is effective – this could be months, years or decades. Example: Geico has been offering to help you save 15% or more on car insurance for a few years now.
- Be consistent and active in your PR and promotion. It’s often said that those that work the hardest reap the most rewards. Work hard – meaning be active in your promotion and don’t stop. Go out there and stay busy.
- Ask for help. It’s OK to not know everything about everything. It’s also OK to get help when you need it. Delegate when needed. Hire when needed. Get other people to get a job done if needed. In a PR campaign, you must be on your feet and ready to put out fires while building a brand into the stratosphere. So be prepared and get help.
5. Get Organic PR
Establishing business relationships can be as valuable as gold to some companies. Some of the biggest companies in the world were built by working with other companies to grow as partners.
Any actions you take to create business relationships with like-minded individuals can pay off for years to come.
I always suggest to my clients that they network whenever possible, not just on LinekedIn or Facebook but in person at events, conferences or meetings. You would be amazed at how many doors can open for you and your business just by meeting other business owners.
A Quick Summary
A PR campaign can be the beginning of a new idea or it can be in support of a current one. It can be a way to counter-act a bad situation or it can be a way to kick off a new line. But it should always be approached with a goal in mind. It should never lose its original focus. It should not be dropped out if it is still effective. And it should be repeated if it yields results.
The best way to learn more about a PR campaign is to launch one and get going. There’s no time like the present. It can be a great learning experience and there’s nothing wrong with taking a few lumps to learn a valuable lesson. Get out there and get busy. There’s a business to grow!