As an integrated communications firm, we are often asked what impacts a brand more: marketing or public relations? The answer is both. Marketing helps build your brand, and public relations helps build your reputation. Marketing is a paid opportunity where you, as a business, make statements about yourself and ultimately control the message, tone, delivery and what you want your audience to see and hear. On the other hand, public relations involves no-cost visibility through media and public relations strategies. And because these earned opportunities are presented by objective third parties, they carry much greater credibility.
Earned opportunities can significantly impact consumer awareness and perceptions, helping to drive sales and increase the bottom line. Below are tips to help you successfully use public relations to market your organization.
Become media trained: Before going out and pitching stories to the media, make sure you and your staff know the rules of media relations, how to support your message and proper delivery techniques. Some things to consider:
- Don’t assume anything is said “off the record.” Nothing is ever off the record…anything you say to a reporter is free game.
- Don’t talk about your competitors. The attention is on you, so don’t give your competitors the air time.
- Don’t respond with “no comment." This will leave your audience questioning your intentions. You should respond to every question, whether you know the answer or not. There are, in fact, three ways to respond: “Here is the answer to your question,” “I don’t know but I will find out and get back to you,” and “I know but I can’t tell you because…”
- Show you’re engaged in the conversation with proper body language. Look people in the eye and actively listen. Don’t convey a negative impression – avoid swaying back and forth, slouching in your chair or toying with objects (such as clicking a pen). This can distract your audience from the message you are trying to convey.
Take advantage of low hanging fruit: Once you’ve become media trained, begin implementing PR strategies that we call “low-hanging fruit,” or small activities that can garner some great results. Identify existing content or recent company news that can be leveraged as a story, bylined article or a press release.
Plan ahead: While taking advantage of the low-hanging fruit, it’s also important to plan ahead and identify opportunities on several levels to ensure ongoing coverage to help further increase your level of visibility. Create a 12-month public relations roadmap that fosters opportunities which are relevant to a specific time of the year and thus allows your organization to be thought leaders on timely issues that consumers, businesses and media are focused on at that time. Recognizing these topics ahead of schedule allows you to develop detailed topics, talking points and target key media in advance.
Leverage all media coverage on social media: All garnered media coverage also become social media opportunities. For example, any television interviews, published articles or Opinion Editorials should be shared via the organization’s social media pages.
Actively pitching the media throughout the year will increase your organization’s level of visibility and raise its “top of mind” presence among your targeted audience. To jump start your public relations strategies for the year ahead, contact Chartwell Agency to schedule a media training for you and your staff.
-Catherine Povalitis, Director