Public relations has a unique place in the world of marketing. Though the messaging is less controlled than web, advertising, direct mail and other more conventional marketing tactics, it also provides the opportunity to communicate with your audience on a deeper and oftentimes more direct level. Public relations can position your organization as a leader in your marketplace. It helps build and maintain a positive reputation. And it keeps your brand top of mind with consumers and the media.
There are a number of ways organizations leverage public relations in their marketing strategies. These five have proven effective for brands in nearly every vertical.
One of the most common (and most traditional) public relations tactics is the press release. These can be used to announce major organizational changes, product developments, philanthropic efforts and much more. The key is to make sure the release is significant, timely and newsworthy. One of the most common mistakes companies make with press releases is assuming because something is important to their organization it will be important to the media and the public.
When disseminating the release, pay attention to the editor’s beat. Read their articles and tie a connection from their audience to your pitch. Failure to consider the interests of all parties (the audience and editor as well as your own organization) will likely mean your release will fall on deaf ears. The more pertinent it is to the audience, the more likely you will garner coverage and build a symbiotic relationship with editors.
Much like the press release, organizations have been using full-length feature pieces as long as public relations has been a part of the marketing picture. These long-form articles can include bylines, client profiles and trend pieces. A feature article gives you the opportunity to explore a topic at length and give your audience a complete picture of your company, service, product, industry, etc.
There are a few ways to approach the feature piece. Depending on the topic, publication and audience you may write the piece and work with the editor to make changes so that it fits the editorial guidelines. Or the editor may choose to write the piece themselves based on an interview with an expert in your organization. Speak with the editor first to determine if they are interested in the topic you’re pitching and how they would like to approach the piece.
Events open up an entirely new realm of possibilities. In terms of public relations the event may be used to announce news or it may be the news. In the former scenario press conferences provide you an opportunity to make major announcements and reach all of your target media in one fell swoop. It also gives editors the chance to dialog and ask questions of leaders within your organization.
In cases where the event is the news, it can take on nearly any form imaginable. Perhaps it’s a major contest that garners thousands of participants or a charity effort that supports a crucial cause. It could be as simple as a small open house to celebrate a relocation or as complex as painting an entire street pink. Inviting the media to these events will gain coverage and raise your company’s profile.
Just as events can get people talking about your brand, unique content can do the same. This can come in the form of insightful blog posts, stunning infographics or moving videos. The challenge with this tactic is creating something that’s interesting enough to share but also connects to your brand enough to add value to your campaign.
You can overcome this challenge by keeping your finger on the pulse of your target audience and being ready to act on trends as they arise. If you pay attention, chances are you may find an unexpected and unique way your brand can lend itself to the conversation.
Social media has proven to be one of the most effective public relations tools ever made available. It gives you the opportunity to interact directly with individuals who may be impacted by your brand. By developing a robust social media presence you will be ready to create conversations, react to discussions and disseminate the shareable content you created in tactic four.
The best practices of social media are endless, but the key word behind all of it is: relevance. Make sure you’re participating on relevant social sites, engaging relevant audiences and sharing relevant thoughts.
Whether employed independently or as part of a complete campaign each of these tactics can serve your PR strategy in unique ways. Your budget, your audience and your organizational goals are all a consideration when determining which tactic or combination of tactics you will choose. No matter which approach you take, it’s important to remember, if you put your audience’s need for relevant information first, brand awareness and a positive reputation will follow.
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