Public Relations: The Key to Business Growth
Albany, NY –December 28, 2006 –As New Years rolls around, everyone makes resolutions to kick bad habits, and stick to good ones. But what about business? That could use some shaping up too.
According to small business marketing expert Shannon Cherry, APR, companies should be making resolutions in order to improve their business growth for the upcoming year.
“Taking stock of where a company is and where it's headed is always good to do a couple of times a year,” says Cherry, president of Cherry Communications (www.cherrycommunications.com), which helps businesses and nonprofit organizations to be heard through marketing communications. “Businesses that want a leg up on their competition need to focus on boosting their public relations, or PR, efforts. This keeps them from going under when the economy is weak, and gets them ahead of their competitors when sales start picking up. With the economy emerging from recession, now is the perfect time to get a fresh start on your PR strategies.”
According to Cherry, public relations is a strategic form of communication that’s used to obtain positive exposure for your company and keep key publics informed. “It's news releases, feature stories, interviews, analyst meetings, application stories, speaking engagements, newsletters, websites, product launches and events,” she says. “It's also developing a key message that differentiates you from your competition and selecting the mix of tactics that will get your message to the marketplace with the most impact.”
She says that PR is different from advertising. “Advertising and promotion are about salesmanship. Consumers know it and are on the defense against being sold something they don't want or need – especially when money’s tight,” she explains. “Public relations are about conveying information. By providing information to consumers directly or through trusted third parties, PR is a cost-effective marketing effort that has a big-payoff: credibility and visibility. That's why PR should play a key role in your business plans in the upcoming year.”
Cherry offers some tips to use PR to kick-start a business into high gear in the next year:
Position yourself as an expert. Give advice on your business topic freely. “When you consistently provide information of value, your reputation as an expert will make itself known.” she says.
Use your business cards. Think of your business card as a small billboard and start handing them out everywhere. Include them in all your correspondence – even in your bills!
Think of more than just a press release. Media coverage can be an excellent way to influence public opinion, but today's media includes more than newspapers and television. “Think outside the box to find the right medium for your message and your target audience,” Cherry says. She points to handing out small gifts bearing a logo, maintaining a presence at trade shows or getting more links to the business website are effective ways to generate public relations.
Keep messages simple. Surveys show that people in the US get bombarded with more than 4,000 marketing messages a day. “Who has the time and energy to decipher complicated jargon? Stick to one message, and learn to tell it in various ways to make your point,” she explains.
Free reports. Offering a free report online is a good way to get an e-mail from prospects so you may market to them later. This is the whole basis of permission-based marketing, or opt-in lists. You can do the same thing offline.
Focus on people, not products. “‘Make the product the hero’ is an old expression that doesn’t work today,” explains Cherry. “People want to connect with somebody, not something.”
Cherry says successful companies make public relations a priority. “Whether selling direct, through distribution channels or via e-commerce, a successful company must achieve and maintain a strong market presence through a continuous and effective public relations program.”
184 Lancaster St.
Albany, NY 12210
Shannon is accredited in public relations and has worked in the PR, marketing and fundraising field for more than 15 years. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from SUNY Geneseo and a MA in Communications Administration for the University of Memphis. A former TV and newspaper journalist, she has aggressively designed and developed dozens of innovative public relations strategies through various press conferences, trade shows, and news releases. Her writing has appeared in USA Today, the New York Times, Yahoo! Internet Life, Associated Press, Popular Photography, and Parenting. Shannon has received several state and national awards for brochures, newsletters and magazines she produced. Adept in creative communication planning, she has developed several events that have received national recognition including An Evening with Christopher Reeve, The New York International Wine Auction, and Abilities Awareness Week.
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