If I only had two dollars left I would spend one dollar on PR. – Bill Gates.
Maybe you recently decided to explore uncharted waters and have started a new business. Confident and ready to be revered as the newest entrepreneur on the scene. At the helm of this new vessel you feel self-reliant, tacking left and right, swiftly maneuvering to fill all the roles necessary to stay afloat. You’re convinced it’s time to commandeer a megaphone and shout from the crows nest: “We are open, squared away and primed for business”.
While that idea sounds immensely entertaining, included in your scheme should be a solid public relations plan.
Telling your story and communicating with your audience will be a vital operation during the voyage to success. No one says that to steer the ship a master’s degree in public relations is required. However,the truth is, your PR goals should be in place long before you hit the water. Fear not, if the ceremonial ribbon has been cut and your doors are already open, it’s never too late to create a strong public relations campaign.
Public relations can be often confused with advertising. An advertising campaign’s goal would typically include a proposal to promote products and generate sales. However, when discussing an effectively built public relations strategy the objective should be centered around generating a buzz and getting people to start a dialogue regarding the company. Endgame should be to create and acquire a favorable reputation for both the products sold and your business as a whole.
Who should handle your company’s PR needs? There appears to be an ongoing debate for both the pro and con sides of hiring an outside firm. Each side vehemently expressing their personal point of view.
Potentially you have budgeted for an outside source to handle the PR necessities, leaving you available to concentrate on sales and day to day operations. The best suggestion would be to find a firm that best fits your ideals and budget concerns. Investigate multiple options. Will they be able to provide the services you are looking for? Are they ready to hit the ground running? Importantly, there should be a sense that your values and goals will be respected as you work alongside them to put your plans into place.
If the intention is to handle your own PR, first contemplate the skills that will be important to complete the task at hand. Do you have strong communication skills and are you comfortable with your writing ability? How do you feel about working in the realm of social media and other multimedia platforms? Does your contact list already include connections to media? Local reporters? Furthermore, are you confident that you have the time, energy and creativity to execute your PR plan and give it justice?
Ultimately the decision to work with an outside PR company or handle it in house, is up to you. Whichever path you take, you will need to work through these next steps to gain success.
Identify your audience. Businesses should have an audience that stretches wide and has several external factions. Encompassing customers, investors, suppliers and the community where a company conducts business. A factor often forgotten is a company’s own internal audience. If you have already added employees to your new business, don’t forget to consider them when crafting your campaign. Building internal relationships should be given just as much value as those external relationships.
As your company was moving through the stages of creation and development you likely began the process of crafting your brand identity. This is a collection of assets that are necessary to utilize when crafting your campaign and telling your story. It can contain, but is not limited to, your business name, logo, including font choice, marketing messages, website and social media accounts. An ideal example of strong brand identity would be Disney. They are instantly recognized internationally throughout the world with just a glimpse of those famous mouse ears and a peak at the Disney name printed in the famous font.
There are multiple platforms a small business can utilize to achieve success. Spend an allotted amount of time on social media. Seek out the avenues that will best fold themselves into the procedures that have been set in place. Investigate LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Create a collection of press releases for multiple situations such as launching a new product or announcing a new member added to your team.
Never forget actions can speak louder than words. Join a local service club, sponsor a community event, be a member of the chamber of commerce, schedule speaking engagements and don’t forget to seek out volunteer opportunities. All of these alternatives can stimulate multiple openings to place yourself in front of your target audience.
Change is typically necessary along the way. Maybe you are rolling out a new product line or you have what could be considered a crisis situation and you need to roll out a new campaign immediately. When trying to cultivate new ideas it can be helpful to seek out other examples of PR plans done right. For instance, CVS Pharmacies made the decision to remove tobacco products from all their stores. They needed to put a clear plan in place to communicate their “Why, When, Who and What”. CVS put together a clear advertising program to promote that they were committed to the public’s health and well being. As a result they would pull all tobacco products from their stores on October, 1, 2014. Their message was strong and straightforward. They received a great deal of praise from the President, the American Medical Association and several others.
Ultimately, you ARE the Captain of your own public relations plan. Put together a strong strategy and ensure all the proper steps have been taken to ensure your success.
Set your sails and prepare to tell your story.
C.A. Newberry is fascinated by diverse topics and believes in the power of continued learning. Her varied background includes event coordination with much of her time spent completing “whatever additional duties the job required”. March through October you can find her at the ballpark. Connect with her on Twitter.
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