Public relations techniques include a wide range of different strategies intended to not only build awareness, but also manage the way that a company is seen by its potential customers and clients. Methods include the use of press releases, events, leaks and even SEO, all of which are discussed here in more detail.
Public relations is a broad term that describes many different techniques and strategies, all focussed on increasing public awareness of your brand or product and controlling your image in the public eye. Your aim is to not only become a house-hold name and the ‘go to’ brand for your particular service or product, but also to ensure that your company is seen as reliable, conscientious, trustworthy and interesting.
This requires a smart strategy for many reasons. Small businesses will struggle with trying to get noticed and gain publicity. They’re too small to be news and so no news outlet will cover them – neutering their chance to get bigger.
Likewise, large businesses struggle with managing their image which can eventually grow to have almost a mind of its own. People will talk about that company regardless and all they can do is try to wrestle control over that dialogue.
To this end, there are techniques which any company can employ to attempt to craft and manage an image. In this entry, we will discuss several of them.
When you are selling a product or service of any kind whether that's a physical product like a chair or a gadget, a digital product like an e-book or an app, or service such as proof reading or consulting - the simple most important factor that will determine your success is your marketing and your advertising. As Ted Turner said: 'Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise'.
The point is that too many people create amazing products and then just put them out there and kind of 'hope' that they succeed. Many webmasters are guilty of this, and even if they use a little SEO they don't always tend to actually promote their sites by doing any real advertising or marketing. If you don't tell people what you're selling or work to get them interested in it, then how can you expect to make any money from it?
Marketing Before the Launch
But marketing once your project is off the ground isn't enough - at this point you're already losing money and every second counts. What's more important then, is to try and market your idea even before it's completed. When your idea is really just a twinkle in your eye, then that's the time to start trying to push it and get people excited for it. People want what they can't have - it's only natural and it's something that you can rely on to give your project that extra big boost. At the same time though, this is also a very big indicator for how successful your product is going to be. In other words, if you push and push but no one's biting or getting excited then this could be seen as a sign that you maybe shouldn't be launching the project at all and that something needs to change.
So how do you go about building hype before you upload yours website or open the doors to your new restaurant? Here's how...
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Write a Press Release
Writing a press release and sending it out to multiple news outlets is right off the bat a great way to start generating a buzz for your product. News stories are great because they're essentially free advertising for your product, and as long as your idea is interesting/of interest to their readers, then most editors will be happy to cover you.
The best way to get coverage like this is to send your press release early to one big news source in your industry and none of the others. The reason for this is that all publications love exclusives, and by doing this you will be more likely to headline. At the same time though, once you get covered there you'll find that you start to get more coverage from the other magazines and websites that follow suit so as not to get left behind. Don't forget to contact print sources even if you're trying to promote an online product or service, these are a great way to reach a wide audience and often there is less competition here.
Maintaining a relationship with news journalists is important here and all part of the job. You need to make sure that you have contacts within the industry and that you’re on good terms with them, as this will greatly help when you want to release news.
This is a symbiotic relationship. Recognize that the journalists are not there to help you get free advertising – they are there to tell stories that their audience will be interested to read. That means you need to provide some kind of story that they will want to cover – which means finding an angle.
Social media is completely changing the face of public relations as it provides companies with a way to interface directly with the audience that they’re marketing to. This is very powerful as it means that they can craft their image exactly as they like and can ensure they come across in the way that they intend.
But that said, there is also an art to this and there are pitfalls that must be avoided. For instance, a company can easily make the mistake of showing itself in a bad light, if it isn’t careful about how it manages its social media presence. It also needs to tightly control the social media activities of its staff; or at least be aware of them.
Using crowdsourcing is a great way to get your product noticed and to get help in the funding or formation of ideas. With a site like Kickstarter for instance you can get funding for your project and essentially this amounts to a lot of pre-orders and a great way to test the market reception. Other companies meanwhile have used crowdsourcing for ideas and to ask their market what they want - for instance the company 'Razer' recently unveiled the design for a new gaming tablet on Facebook and opted only to make it if it received enough likes. Such stunts not only raise awareness and are undoubtedly going to be picked up by various news sources, but also give the companies involved a good indicator as to whether or not their concept has a potential audience or if they're just spinning their wheels.
Have a Pre-brief
A pre-brief is an event that comes before an official launch. This gives news outlets information regarding a launch that they can they use in order to create the necessary materials to cover that event properly: be that written posts, videos or anything else.
Leaks are information that you intentionally allow to get out about a product, a service or anything else. New that ‘shouldn’t’ be available is always extra tempting for journalists but because you chose what information to let out, you are still controlling the image.
There are many more strategies that a company can use in order to manage its public relations and its image. For instance, simple things like creating a website can help a company to put forward a certain image. This is used in order to help interested patrons to find out more about the business, and to present a specific brand to the world.
Likewise, public relations can also include SEO. SEO is search engine optimization, which in turn is the process of designing a website and a ‘links profile’ in such a way that a website will appear at the top of Google for specific search phrases. This is important, because it allows you to decide precisely what it is that you want people to see when they look for your business.
And this more broadly relates to a term known as ‘reputation management’. This describes the process of changing the way your business is perceived. And this is done through the use of SEO to ensure you choose what people find when they search for you, as well as through the use of techniques like responding to online reviews, or answering queries. Through these methods, you can decide what you want people to discover about your business and how that is going to impact on their impression of your organization.
As you can see then, public relations can mean many different things, including:
- Press releases
- Publicity stunts
- Reputation management
- Website design
And of course, it also means designing a strong brand in the first place. The brand you design is going to greatly help your business to stand out and will change the way it is seen when people first encounter it.