by Scott Carpenter | June 10, 2021
While many marketers spend big on paid advertising methods to build brand credibility and awareness, one of the most influential methods that is often overlooked and totally free is public relations.
Called the art of influence, “public relations is about influencing, engaging and building a relationship with key stakeholders across numerous platforms in order to shape and frame the public perception of an organization,” according to Public Relations Society of America.
You may be asking, isn’t that definition also advertising? The difference between public relations (PR) and advertising is night and day, or in this case earned credibility versus paid promotion.
Think of the difference this way: You’re at a dinner party and I come up to you without knowing you and say, “I’m the best artist of all time.” That’s advertising since I’m promoting without any credentials you trust. At the same dinner party, a friend comes up to you and says, “He is the best artist of all time.” That’s PR as it comes from a reputable source.
So PR can shape and frame public perception to build a credible reputation. The question is how to do it at no cost. Here are some tips to implement a program:
Media Database: Build a database of key media contacts that cover your industry (such as a trade journal or news site) or region (such as a newspaper or TV station). Contacts can be found on the media source’s website.
Media Relations: When you have real news to let your key stakeholders know about, send a news release to the database. News could include major contracts won, important new hires or business financial success over a previous quarter or year.
Editor/Reporter Outreach: Today’s newsrooms are roughly 25 percent of what they were a decade ago. With less staff to discover new stories on their own, reporters are looking for companies to send them news ideas to cover. As an example, let’s say you are an interior designer. You read an article about the escalating costs of new home purchases in the area and know from your own work that 1) homeowners can’t afford to buy to right now and, 2) that these homeowners are reinvesting in new kitchens and baths that produced a record first quarter for your business. That’s a good business angle to approach an editor with.
Bylined Articles: For business-to-business (B2B) companies, trade journals offer a terrific platform to share your expertise on certain subjects that are related to your business. Each year, journals share an editorial calendar of their topics for each issue they publish. If you see a topic that is your expertise area, you can approach the editor of the journal with an offer to write the article yourself. In return for a piece that shares insight, trends and industry facts, the author gets a byline and picture, but more importantly, readers of that article will view the author as a subject matter expert. That adds credibility to the brand.
Website Blog Articles: While most corporate websites are used to promote and sell a product, the blog section of the site can be used to educate, inform and persuade stakeholders on subjects important to your brand. Through the concept of making key audiences come back again and again to see what’s new on your site, blog articles on important trends, statistics, news, government policies and innovations can position your brand as a source of industry insight. With each new blog post, social media posts could alert followers of the new content.
Public Relations is the often forgot about no-cost marketing strategy but it is one that can have tremendous impact on your brand’s credibility, reputation and value with your key stakeholders.