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When we speak about PR, the key to really ‘getting’ it is in the understanding of what it does first and foremost before looking at the tactics it then employs.
Taking the first question – the ‘what’ it does is rather simple really:
- PR improves the perception that your customers and other key stakeholders have of your business/brand/product/service
- It positions you as the go-to within each sector you operate by getting you in front of the right people, in the right way and at the right time, and
- It enables you to be understood in way that increases your impact, influence, and bottom line
Now to the ‘how’ PR does all of that?
The answer to that is, of course, is there’s no one cap which fits all. But what you’ll find when taking a look at how organisations do their PR, when all the various campaigns are considered, there are many commonalities in what they do.
Take the company that introduced a four-day working week into their organisation. This fast-growing specialist recruitment company with operations both here in the UK as well as France, Germany and the US introduced a change to the traditional 9-5 Monday to Friday routine.
And they wanted the world to know about it.
On the face of it, there is not a lot to hang your hat on. But drill down a little further and the ideas start to flow and the PR tactics to be employed become clear:
- You have the fact they operate in a sector that is known for its long-hours culture and commission-driven environment.
- There is the impact of such working practices on the mental health and wellbeing of employees.
So what, what’s the angle here?
- Think about it for a second: a long hours culture = restricted work/life balance.
- Commission-driven culture often = increased levels of workplace stress and even mental health problems.
And there we have the two angles, hooks if you like, with which to talk about.
Now to get that message out there, and here’s how. In this example, we deployed two key tactics:
- Thought leadership
- Media relations
We wrote blogs on the company website because we knew that as a fast-growing company they were looking to attract new employees to work for them.
By seeing that our client took workplace stress and achieving a healthy work-life balance seriously this would position them as an attractive employer of choice.
It would also appeal to their prospective clients too, as they’d see that this was a recruitment company who put people before profits – not the perception many people have of recruiters.
As well as blogs and authored articles for the senior leadership team, we undertook a media outreach programme. This started with a single press release and quickly ballooned into one of the most successful campaigns we have ever run.
Dozens and dozens of media coverage was secured in the form of quotes, bylines, full articles, TV and radio interviews.
To stand out in an increasingly crowded or even over-crowded market, you need to do or say something that is remarkable
We had SKY News do a live broadcast from our clients’ offices, the first two words of an article in WIRED started with the name of our client, local radio wanted the CEO to appear on their shows again and again. BBC TV and Radio 4 all wanted his views and opinions.
It was incredible in terms of raising awareness of the two key strands we were highlighting, building the brand and increasing awareness of who they are and what they do.
This also has a positive effect on their bottom line; the client became seen as an employer of choice and the more people they hired the greater the revenue opportunities they were able to create for themselves.
All in all, the client reached an audience of over 20 million people and secured a six-figure contract in the process on the back of the media coverage that was generated.
PR should never be seen as an alternative to or replacement for advertising and traditional marketing
To stand out in an increasingly crowded or even over-crowded market, you need to do or say something that is remarkable.
You need to figure out a way of ensuring that what you have to say is both a little different to what every other business in your space is saying, and crucially that’s its of value to your intended audience too.
PR is not simply about getting your company’s name into the press. There is so much more to it than that. Nor should PR ever be seen as an alternative to or replacement for advertising and traditional marketing.
Both tactics have their merits but there is one discernable difference between the two:
Marketing will boost your sales in the short term. But it won’t prepare you for long-term growth or positively influence the perception others have of you. For that to happen, you need PR.
I’ll leave you with this:
Richard Branson famously said, “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.” While Gates said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on PR.” I reckon these lads have done OK for themselves. What do you think?
If you have any questions or need a steer on your organisation’s PR, feel free to email me directly anytime: email@example.com