Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for years, developing your company’s public image can seem like a daunting task. Too many companies miss out on key public relations opportunities as a result. Knowing when, how and who to share your message with need not be tricky, though. The key is to be strategic about where you spend your resources, especially considering how precious time is for an independent business. Here are four practices guaranteed to fuel the PR success that will help you build your brand.
1. Amplify Your Message, But Only With Quality Content
In our content-laden society, wading through all the noise isn't easy. It should come as little surprise then that consumers gravitate toward great stories. Quality content has always been the backbone of successful PR, so in order to have maximum impact, companies need to deliver a quality message. That means sharing information that is original, valuable and engaging for the consumer. Let's say your company wants to promote the launch of a new product and you have an original story to go with it. Rather than writing a blog stuffed full of keywords to gain traction, you might consider sharing a fresh, compelling press release on a wire service. That will ensure the news is distributed via media sources, which will ultimately generate its own backlinks for SEO purposes.
When Lightspeed celebrated its 10,000th eCommerce customer earlier this year, we shared the exciting news with the top tech-oriented media outlets, who we knew would find the announcement relevant and interesting enough to write about. Targeting the right media contacts and tailoring your news to their interests is a sure way to gain coverage and visibility for your brand.
2. You Don’t Know If You Don’t Ask
It may not be enough to rely on online word of mouth to promote your company. If you want to give your brand a boost, sometimes you have put yourself out there. Research top influencers, bloggers or media authorities in your industry, and reach out to them. Consider sharing new product information they may want to promote, news of an event they may want to attend or even samples they may want to review. While it may seem intimidating to connect with these tastemakers, remember, you don't know if you don't ask.
Don’t forget to create a targeted pitch for each connection, though, and know who your audience is, to increase the potential of earning that media coverage and generating buzz for your company.
3. Build Relationships with Your Community
When it comes to developing your public image, it pays to build relationships with more than just the media. Giving back to your community is not only rewarding in and of itself, but also a great way to generate positive PR for your brand. Last year, Lightspeed paired with the cultural non-profit Never Apart and the organisation Plus One to create the Colour By Icons colouring book, which features queer historical icons, and was promoted at the FYF Fest in Los Angeles. This partnership gave Lightspeed the chance to promote its service – an easy to use POS software – for these charitable sales transactions, all the while participating in a great cause. The type of PR generated from these community relations can be evergreen, and certainly a worthwhile investment for any brand.
4. Capitalise on the News Cycle
Constant coverage is crucial in helping you amplify your message. Carefully timing the delivery of your story can make all the difference in garnering that all-important earned media (free media generated from shares, reposts, reporting, etc). Timing is all about leveraging similar content that could give your story a boost and being prepared to take action when relevant news breaks.
Going back to Colour by Icons, Lightspeed, Never Apart and Plus One capitalised on the like-minded atmosphere of FYF Fest to share their message and promote their colouring book. This is just one of the avenues (such as timely social media posts, related blogs, and more) used to transform the message from a story into a big announcement. Big announcements leverage the news cycle to generate conversation and amplify what you’re trying to share. It’s important to let your good ideas and campaigns breathe, though. The worst thing you can do is force your next idea out too quickly, which only serves to distract and detract from your story.
Now that you know these four PR practices, you have to be strategic to get the most out them. Set specific goals you want to achieve and create a plan of action. While you may not be an expert on how to execute each practice just yet, there’s a lot to be learned from trial and review. PR is widely regarded as being difficult to measure, but there’s more metrics than ever to help you find value you in your actions as well. (Likes, Follows, Media Impressions and SEO Ranking, just to name a few.)
And remember, stellar PR is all about the details. Putting in a bit of extra effort and time into PR as you start to build your brand will pay off in the long run.