This year’s brief hiatus, which has included both taking on exciting global PR projects and the life-changing role of becoming a mother, many lessons have been learned. From understanding the differences between the media landscape in London and New York to tying business and marketing goals to PR initiatives and metrics (and maybe a little bit of maintaining a new work-life balance), a key factor I am constantly reminded of is, no matter how much planning and research is involved, there’s still one very important facet to PR that can make or break brand perception: relationships.
Many PR gurus are claiming the ‘transformation’ of public relations from a traditional model to one which directly ties to SEO, revenue and creating solid brand perception in the digital world. While I agree with this new PR model - the power of relationships cannot be overlooked when it comes to creating successful PR campaigns, whether they are digital or traditional.
Here are three key audiences that remain critical to building out your next PR strategy:
1. CUSTOMERS AND PARTNERS: A COMPANY'S BLOODLINE
Ultimately, the goal for most PR campaigns is to drive customer and user retention. Yet, oftentimes, customers or partners are easily overlooked during campaign execution, be it a press release, digital campaign or a series of events. Overlooking the bloodline for companies - customers and partners - can be detrimental to brand reputation.
Before a PR campaign is created and goals are set - communications and PR teams must ask themselves a very basic question: how do our customers and partners perceive us? How do we want them to perceive us in the future? The answers to these questions, rather than only asking how to land a feature in Business Insider, should help drive PR ideas and outcomes,
Second, when it comes to execution, instead of only engaging customers who are quoted in a release or used in a pitch, why not take the opportunity to engage with your entire customer base, inform them of a new initiative or piece of company news or invite local customers to attend a hosted event or panel?
Involving customers and partners in PR initiatives is a very basic step that’s critical to success.
2. COLLEAGUES AND TEAM MEMBERS: YOUR BEST BRAND ADVOCATES
For entrepreneurs and some startups, engaging colleagues and teammates during a PR campaign is not typical or applicable. Yet, for a massive company with colleagues around the globe, keeping colleagues informed and engaged with PR initiatives can double the reach and outcome. Here are three advantages to including colleagues into your next PR campaign:
1. It can create synergistic opportunities between teams that typically work in silo
2. It can broaden your social and digital reach
3. It will improve internal brand perception and morale
Before executing campaigns, why not meet with various marketing and sales teams to inform them of the launch? Or syndicate an email encouraging employees to share a piece of news or report on their social channels? This simple step can go a long way towards making your initiatives more impactful and successful.
3. COMMUNITY MEMBERS: THE FOUNDATION FOR CUSTOMER GROWTH
Finally, when it comes to creating true influence, the first entities that should come to mind are: local government entities, chambers of commerce, colleges and universities or local member organizations, not necessarily a Wall Street Journal reporter.
For bigger brands with offices in multiple locations, creating local ties are often not deemed a priority. Yet, there is significant PR power in word-of-mouth and face-to-face interaction. Local ties create new partnership opportunities, they drive greater impact for PR campaigns and they can offer new ideas for PR tactics in the future.
With recent projects, I have seen the most impact on driving customer retention or revenue by simply hosting a local panel or local influencer dinner and inviting key community stakeholders, than landing a mention or feature in Fortune or Forbes.
Without question, having a local element to a global PR campaign is the best way to ensure you’re driving impact.
In sum, the traditional PR model is definitely changing and strategists need to keep up. However, there are still essential elements to crafting a successful and impactful PR campaign. It all starts with engaging with the right audiences and building the right relationships.
Let’s face it - PR stands for “Public Relations” for a reason!
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