By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The most important part of understanding how Public Relations (PR) can help your business and brand is to get educated on the role PR plays and where it fits into your marketing plan. Understanding marketing, the different tactics and what each delivers, must inform your strategy so that it is spot on to deliver against your business objectives and marketing spend.
Nadia Hearn is a well-respected brand authority and marketing communications creative in the PR industry. She is the founder of Get-Published, an entrepreneur, broadcast media producer and presenter, and is a purpose-driven business mentor. She shares her insights after almost two decades of seeing first hand the marketing and sales pains of SMEs and entrepreneurs.
Nadia hears daily how confusing and overwhelming it is for most business owners to understand digital marketing and how to apply it sufficiently to grow and boost their businesses and sales.
Here is Nadia’s must-know facts about how and where PR belongs in the 'Marketing Mix' and how you can use PR to gain business results:
PR’s position in the sales process.
PR’s job is to add great value to organic (not paid for) content that ethically educates your target customer on the problems they may be experiencing and provides better solutions to remove their pain points. Second to this, your prospects must understand how your services and products help them, what difference they really make, and how they can benefit from what you offer.
PR creates trust and credibility for your business as well as awareness so that your sales tactics can be successful. Your prospects are influenced during the sales process in the evaluation phase - before they convert (buy) - and this is a very important step in the decision making process.
It is at this point your potential customer will review if you are ‘the expert’, that you are who you say you are, and your business is a valuable source. They will be influenced by your story of how you can help, why you or your business care about them, and why you are great at what you offer, as well as stories and proof of how you helped others and what they can expect to gain.
Digital PR and how it will support SEO / your search ability?
You may have heard that your business needs a great digital footprint? If so, you may wonder what that includes...it simply means that when anyone searches you or your business online, you come up preferably on page 1 of the search engine. While PR does not do the job of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) it definitely helps with searchability, especially if you are featured in high ranking news pages and websites.
Are your profiles on digital platforms popping up and do they look professional? Are they aligned to who you say you are? Do they provide the right credentials around what you are great at and what you offer? Do they make it easy for others to connect with you?
This also applies to businesses and their brands. Having a good and healthy digital footprint also includes a polished and professional brand visually that is well represented, has a consistent brand voice and message across social media pages, your website/s and all digital marketing materials.
Consistency is crucial when building a credible, trusted, and recognised brand that your market feels safe with and knows what to expect from you through your marketing communications.
PR is not a lead generation tool.
It is imperative to understand that PR is not going to get your phone ringing nonstop with new business leads. After a radio interview you may see some website visits or get a message or two, however you most likely won’t see a massive immediate impact.
This is 100% normal, a few media interviews will not get you famous or you - or your brand top of mind awareness. What you do need for your PR strategy to work is consistent exposure in the media for anyone to pay attention, as to them you are not important yet.
Your prospect needs to see, read or hear about you or your business several times - it is proven that they need to see you up to eight times - for it to stick.
PR as a solo marketing activity.
Will PR work as a standalone marketing strategy? The answer is yes, but only if you have an excellent sales strategy that is currently producing results and your PR can then do its job to support sales in its closing stage.
As explained, PR is not a sales lead generation tactic, so how else will it support you?
Media exposure can support you on overall brand awareness and to stay top of mind, it can also act as an education tool, and can tackle difficult misperception challenges in the market.
PR supports the introduction job for you as the business owner or the sales team; your prospects get to know who the business is and why you have something amazing to sell that can change their business or lives. PR helps answer the question ‘why’ you?
PR also provides prospective customers with comfort since they have heard or read or seen your business on television, which makes the job for sales much easier. It can turn new or cold leads into warm receptive customer leads, which can be converted easier.
Hopefully this shines a light on what to expect from PR in your business. A final point to note is that PR needs to run for a few months at the very least. It is recommended that PR run for no-less than three (3) active months to see some good impact on business objectives, however ideally it takes six (6) to twelve (12) months to gain great consistent media exposure to your target market and to build trust.
Consistency is the name of the game in marketing and PR. If you have great PR and then suddenly disappear, people will ask whether you are still around.
On a final note, PR will deliver the bonus of extra media placements through organic search ability complementing your SEO, lead generation and sales strategies.
Follow Nadia Hearn on social media @nadiahearn or to get more information and more direct advice on PR and marketing communications and how to best use it in your business to gain go visit www.get-published.co.za or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.