by Renee Fellows
You have been doing everything right with your marketing efforts – sending direct mail, following up on new business leads, sending thank you notes and even advertising in the local paper and yellow pages – so why aren’t you completely satisfied with your brand awareness?
Integrated marketing communications should always include a well-planned public and community relations effort to reinforce your marketing efforts. Think of it like using a primer coat of paint on your house before you brush on that top coat of buttercup yellow to complete the job. The primer coat lays the foundation for a longer-lasting, better-looking top coat. Your marketing efforts will last longer and carry more resonance if you add a strategic public relations effort to the mix.
What is Public Relations?
Public relations consist of managing relationships between an organization and its publics (both positive and negative groups) and everyone both internally and externally related to the organization. While marketing , or ‘making a transaction happen’ plays a role in the overall PR image, it is a separate function within the organization and should be treated as such.
Public relations include:
- managing relationships
- building trust
- creating an atmosphere (to allow marketing to occur)
- building or maintaining an image
- creating or adjusting public perception
How does an organization begin to implement and create a solid PR atmosphere?
- Top-down buy-in. As with all public marketing efforts, buy-in and support must start from the top of the organization and carry through to each employee. Leadership should make every effort to participate in the public relations effort by agreeing to appear and speak in pubic and to their employees on a regular basis. Often times, an organization is branded with the leadership as the ‘face’ of the organization (think of Jim Purdue from Purdue Chicken or Dave Thomas from Wendy’s).
- Remember that good PR doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is important to develop a PR plan that encompasses the financial and marketing objectives of the organization and utilize tactics to maintain or shift public opinion and perception accordingly.
- Identify and train a spokesperson. There should always be one individual that your public can recognize and trust as the go-to person for answers on issues, questions, events, etc.
- Have a Plan B ready at all times. Think of the Boy Scout’s adage, Be Prepared. While you cannot possibly plan for every crisis or contingency, you can have an emergency response program in place. Remember that the key to crisis management is responsiveness and a strong coordination of efforts.
Finally, remember that a public relations campaign has many faces. An organization can become a resource to the media by providing industry data, reference materials and experts for comment. Once you’ve established your organization as a trustworthy and responsive agency to the media’s needs, you’ll be first in their rolodex when questions or story ideas arise.
Other facets of public relations efforts can include:
- PR and media junkets to tour new facilities, products or services
- Expert articles
- White papers and backgrounders
- Events and special event coverage and access
- News releases
All of these items have their place in an integrated marketing communications effort and will further enhance current marketing campaigns when implemented strategically.
Renee Fellows is principal and owner of ClearPoint Marketing Communications in Derry, NH. To learn more about ways you can increase your marketing with public relations efforts, call her at (603) 434-9433 or visit the web site at www.oneclearpoint.com.
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