Public relations agencies have a large number of different roles, all of which can help a business to gain publicity and craft the message that it wants to communicate to its audience. This post will explain what you should expect from an agency and some of the best techniques they use to these ends.
What does a Public Relations Agency?
Public relations describes the relationship that a business has with its audience and with the public at large. This means the company’s visibility - do people know about it, is it a household name – but also the reputation. How do people perceive the company?
This is a problem for nearly every business. For small businesses, the challenge is getting journalists to cover them and to spread the word about their offerings. Companies only want to cover news that is going to make for interesting reading for their audiences. That means they don’t want to provide you with ‘free advertising’ and you need to have something news worthy. That’s easy if you are CocaCola or Apple but not so easy if you are ‘Jim’s Salon’.
Likewise, big companies will often find that their reputation takes on a life of their own. As the press discusses every aspect of their business, they can struggle to keep control of the way they’re being presented. In both scenarios, this is where a public relations agency comes in. These companies are tasked with helping the company to both get word out and also make sure that the message has been meticulously crafted.
They do this with both a combination of traditional marketing methods, promotional marketing and more. They will help you to come up with a publicity plan that works for your brand and your goals and then to execute on that plan and ensure it is followed through effectively.
Techniques for Building Publicity and Managing Relations
There are many news outlets on the web, each of which has the ability to immediately update their content on a daily basis. This in turn means that there are simply more stories meaning it's easier to find coverage online. Find the best news resources in your industry online and make sure that you inform them of everything your business does through official press releases.
The purpose of a press release is to gain free publicity as news outlets cover the story. The challenge is getting those journalists to see your story as being ‘news worthy’ enough to cover.
The way you get around this problem, is to make sure that your press release has been designed in such a way as to tell a story that the magazine’s audience would want to read. Another important tip is to think about sending your press releases to the right outlets, to manage press relations and to consider offering exclusives where this can increase your chances of being covered by the biggest papers and sites.
This is one of the big benefits of using a public relations agency because it means you can use companies that are able to leverage journalistic contacts and identify the best targets for your stories (the outlets most likely to cover them). Press relations is actually a job entirely of its own.
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SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and essentially describes the process of designing your website and your linking strategy in a way that is conducive to getting to the top of Google. This way you can target a specific keyword or key phrase so that when people search for a particular service or product in Google your website comes up. Of course, this is a fantastic way to get a lot of relevant traffic to your site.
PCP stands for 'proper company promotion' and is essentially the flip side of the coin compared with SEO. This describes marketing the way that we understand it - creating newsworthy stories so that they get covered on other websites and blogs. This can be something as simple as redesigning your website occasionally or running some kind of competition.
When a company redesigns its website, it creates a reason for the press to cover it.
Thinking of what you can do that is going to be worth covering to a news outlet or industry magazine can be hard, but this is again where a public relations agency can come in. They might help you think of publicity stunts or other methods you can use to gain exposure.
They say that a picture can tell a thousand words - well a video can tell even more. Videos online have the ability to go viral and are more immediately engaging and in depth than most written or pictorial forms of marketing and advertising. Create a video that people will want to share and that will grab attention and provide lots of information and this can be used in a variety of ways to promote your business.
There are many online communities that you can use to promote your business which may include forums that deal with your niche, Facebook groups and more. Alternatively, you can also look at the various organized creative communities online such as Fiverr and Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing site, whereas Fiverr is a site where people sell a range of services and products for $5.
Social media is also a very useful and powerful tool that you can use to get people talking about your business and to join that discourse yourself.
By giving out promotional products, or selling them, you will be getting people to use clothing and apparel that has your brand on it. This will mean that they are inadvertently promoting your business for you by showing others the items with the logos on them, and by walking through the street with them, appearing in photographs and generally circulating. At the same time this gets people to feel like they are a part of what you are trying to do and gets them behind your movement.
Sponsoring an event is a great way to get recognition and awareness from something which is already high profile. By sponsoring say a charity event, or a sporting event, you can get that event to brandish your name or even to change its name in order to incorporate your company title. As this will already be being attended by lots of people or be being televised etc., this will then mean that you need to do no additional work to get your name out to hundreds or thousands of people. At the same time, you can get them to hand out your promotional products so that you better distribute this other method of promotion.
Competitions are a fantastic way to generate publicity from promotional ideas. This way people will get something for free by visiting your website or reading your magazine and so you can gravitate more people to your business. From here you can then even make your promotional items the prize so that you end up further spreading your message and distributing your items.
A public relations agency can help you to promote your business through competitions by helping to design the competition and come up with the initial plan, but also by spreading the word and ensuring that the competition is covered by the relevant media.
Rebranding is a great way to get media attention and is a great excuse to role out a whole selection of new promotional items. This is another example of PCP, because it creates a story that is worth mentioning.
At the same time though, rebranding can also be a powerful tool to help change course and to show your audience what matters to you. It’s a great way to shake a negative reputation.
Smart advertising 'campaigns' can go beyond just a simple advert in a magazine or on television, and can become more interactive and generate media speculation. For instance, film studios will often tease at plots of their films and create treasure hunts online. Other media companies have used other methods such as leaking details of an upcoming project on a weekly basis to create media hype. Any company can use these strategies however, and it just takes a little imagination.
If you are launching a new business or a new endeavor, then a launch party is a great way to get people talking about it and to get the media amassed while generating excitement and interest. As well as launching companies, launch parties can also launch products, services, websites and rebrands. Make sure that your business uses these strategies in order to gain even more coverage. Press meetings can also be used for a variety of other stories, from financial reports, to changes to policies.