Is your public relations an afterthought? Here’s why that can get you into trouble
When you are focused on starting your business or launching a new product, public relations can be an afterthought. But that can be a costly mistake.
Steady public relations not only builds your brand’s reputation in the community, but it makes it easier to market your products when the time comes.
Here are the top reasons why public relations should be a forethought instead of a last-minute idea.
It boosts your marketing
A lot of people think public relations and marketing are the same thing, but it could not be further from the truth. Do they often go hand in hand? Of course. But effective public relations saves time and money for marketers.
While marketing is geared toward selling products and services, public relations is all about how people see your business. When you release something new or open your business, sometimes it’s easy to say, “we should schedule an open house event,” or “maybe let’s put out a press release.”
But you must ask yourself a hard question – why would anyone care about your event or product if they’ve never heard of you before? You can waste a lot of time and advertising dollars throwing information out there without the trustworthiness of your company’s brand to bring in a return on investment.
A solid public relations campaign can help with the following before your product/service is released or your business is even open:
- Brand awareness in the community and with potential customers
- Building relationships with local media, trade media, influencers, and industry leaders
- Creating excitement and anticipation for the release of your product/service or your opening
- Providing knowledge of where to find your audience and the best way to spend your advertising dollars and social media efforts
A lack of a solid public relations foundation makes the job for marketers that much harder and could cost you potential revenue.
We’ve all seen what happens when a company or organization hits the news with a negative story. Disgruntled former employees take to the news, angry customers find an audience, or a crisis outside of your control like a downed website or slow supply chain impacts your reviews.
All of these things are easier handled and maintained with the help of a strong public relations plan. Being proactive rather than reactive can go a long way to facing any crisis your business encounters with grace and dignity in a way that has your peers and customers looking at you with respect.
Some of the crisis management plans established by a PR team include:
- Who is the company spokesperson when there is a crisis? What should employees do if contacted for comment?
- What is the process and timeline for creating a solid message around the crisis events?
- What is the communications structure during a crisis?
- Where do you post emergency communications – on social media, website, etc.
- Who handles social media during a time of crisis, and responds to questions, concerns, and complaints all the time?
- Who responds to online reviews, whether negative or positive? What is the message you want to use? How can you prevent yourself from starting arguments online with those leaving a negative review?
Having all these questions answered before a crisis happens can go a long way toward handling it smoothly.
So many fans, so little time
On the opposite end of the spectrum from negatively gaining attention is when you suddenly get a popularity increase if a social media post or news story goes viral unexpectedly.
This is a great thing, right?
It’s like striking gold, but if your business is not prepared for the sudden onslaught of attention, your fifteen minutes of fame can be just that. An effective PR program can help you prepare for the time when your business hits its stride. No one wants to be scrambling to update that old website or get canceled because of something in their past.
Some of the things public relations can help prepare you for if you go viral:
- Make sure your website and social media is always up to date with the latest information.
- Thoroughly review all past social media posts for problematic content.
- Review negative reviews and news stories from the past and prepare messaging in case those resurface with the new positive attention.
- Create talking points about your products and services so you can maximize the time you are in the limelight.
- Establish a spokesperson in case there are press requests.
- Have a plan in place to handle additional phone calls, comments, reviews, and requests for services, etc. Nothing tanks a business faster than when they suddenly get an wave of customers and their services lag as a result.
Keep it in the forefront
Making public relations an afterthought in your business can cost you a lot of time and money in the long run. By building a concrete PR foundation, you are not only ready to get the news about your business, services, and products out in the world, but you are ready to face any crisis or sudden attention that comes your way. The business leader who has the forethought to plan how they will share their brand with the world sets themselves up for success.