By Brian Murnahan (This article originally appeared in the July edition of FW Inc. Magazine)
Utilizing public relations in business is often seen as a big business luxury, but in reality, even smaller businesses can use basic tools for successful PR campaigns. PR is defined around key pillars that encompass audience, message, relationship and strategy. Businesses that put a communications strategy in place based on these pillars can find it to be extremely effective.
Step one involves taking the time to research and define key characteristics of your intended audience and what value points matter to that group. Use research drawn from customer surveys, employee observations, or thorough analysis and market study to reveal real-time opportunities.
Know your audience: For expert results, you must define your audience or risk spending wasted resources communicating with a group that doesn’t care what you say. PR practices aim to find key leaders within a targeted group to maximize influence. Find the best reporters, bloggers, local leaders or community influencers to help maximize your message within a group.
Target your messaging:
- What is it that differentiates your business from the rest of the pack?
- Share with your target audience (media and customers) why they should come talk with you. (Do you offer private labor and delivery rooms, do you offer in-home evaluations, do you have an impeccable safety record?)
- Talk like a real person and get to the point. Don’t make them listen to a long story if an anecdote will work.
Relationships: PR is about using communication to build relationships with people. When speaking to customers, influencers, or media outlets, be an active listener and keep notes from your conversation. Real people and relationships are built on previous engagements, so sharing your interest will build your rapport as will checking in with them after a big news event, family vacation or medical event. Relationships are built on trust and must be treated with care for them to endure.
Strategy: All of the best intentions and practices will only get you so far without taking the time to identify and outline your business strategy. With a strategy in hand, it will be easier to keep yourself focused on the right audiences, and you will avoid unnecessary wastes of time and energy on activities that have less value. Sending out the right messages will be easier because you will know what messages they have already heard and how they have responded.
In short, with a strategy in place for your public relations activities, you will be able to achieve your goals and develop stronger relationships with the best folks for your business. The world of PR has many aspects, and paying attention to core concepts will surely impact the growth of your business in positive ways. With so many ways to communicate and so many people to meet, formulating a precise strategy will focus your actions to be compatible with how you want to grow.
You can learn more about public relations from the Greater Fort Worth Public Relations Society of America, including resources on how to find and hire the best PR firm or staff for your needs.