How to Leverage Public Relations to Build Your Brand
By Carly Moore, Community & Communications Manager, Bond Collective
You did it! You’ve founded a new company, hired employees, found a home in a shared office space (hey Bond Collective!), got a few clients - now what? You need to find ways to maximize exposure of your brand to bring in more business, but what’s the next step to take? Public relations.
Often times public relations or “PR” takes a complete backseat regardless of business size or maturity level. The naive executive will say that there’s no return on investing in a PR firm or bringing in a PR Manager in-house. And to be frank, that’s far from the truth. PR brings brand awareness to a company without spending loads of money on advertising, lets you control the message in the press (most of the time), and allows you to reach an audience that can quickly grow to millions of people depending on the publication you are mentioned in.
After working at a few PR agencies before I started at Bond Collective, I understand all of the benefits and pitfalls of putting effort into your PR strategy. That said, I still think integrating PR into your marketing department or business is incredibly important to build brand awareness and success for your company. To help jumpstart the process, I’ve developed six tips that will help get your PR strategy off the ground and running.
1. Understand your core business goals: Before you even put your foot into the PR door, take a step back and define your business goals and objectives. This will allow you to identify what part of your business is struggling and may need PR help, or a project that might be media-worthy. Take your time with this step!
2. Read the news: Understanding what’s going on in your industry or what your competitors are doing is incredibly important. You can use this information at networking opportunities/events or simply share internally so all of your employees are aware. Not only that, you’ll start to familiarize yourself with relevant news publications in your industry and what they are talking about.
3. Research: This step goes a bit further than simply reading the news. Now that you you’ve gotten into a rhythm reading through the news every morning, it’s time to really pay attention to what reporters are saying and who they are talking about. Whether the reporters and editors are writing about specific companies or executives, take note either way! Also, jot down or make lists of reporters that you might think would be interested in hearing from you.
4. It’s time to pitch! (yes, like a business pitch): Now that you have a list of relevant reporters, it’s time to finally connect with them. This is no easy task as reporters get thousands of emails a day. But don’t fret, you have plenty of opportunities to get on their radar. When you are crafting your pitch, keep the email short, sweet and to the point. Tell the reporter why he or she should care about your company, project or executive. Follow ups are encouraged.
5. PR goes further than simply just being in the news: You see conferences, networking events and meetups happening all over your local area. Believe it or not this is another aspect of PR. To help both your company and executive gain awareness, having them speak or participate in any type of event that is audience-facing is a great opportunity to gain exposure and put your brand directly in the hands of prospective clients or partners.
6. Write articles and pitch them to be published: Most publications have a section of their online or print newspaper/magazine that allows for contributors to send in their articles to be published. This is a fantastic way to help build a presence for an executive and your business’ brand. You can tackle this similarly how you would pitching a reporter. Do some research for who to send the pitch too (pro tip: it’s usually an editor) and give them a preview of your article to see if they’re interested. More times than not they’ll have word count requirements and/or need the article to be neutral, not self serving in any way.
This often overlooked services can be one of the most valuable resources your company has if it’s used right. It’s important that potential customers are able to read your company news and thought leadership efforts on daily/weekly/monthly basis. Public relations can also promote your company if you are looking for new talent or investors. All in all, while most say PR is expensive and overrated, the services will be valuable to your company if have the right people and resources managing the process.