December 18, 2011
Let’s start with full disclosure: I am a public relations specialist, so I write this article with a fundamental belief that every business should utilize some type of PR. I assume that many Made Women are somewhat familiar with PR, if for no other reason than the popularization of it by the one and only Samantha Jones’ of Sex & The City. Thank you, Samantha, for calling attention to PR, but there’s a little more to it than party planning.
Whatever product or service you’re selling, you have an audience. You have a message. You have a goal. PR ensures that your proper message is developed and that it reaches the appropriate audience. This ultimately helps you or your business achieve its goals.
Whether you’re running a small business, working with a Fortune 500 company or working independently to become a best-selling author, here are three key elements of PR that may benefit your company’s image and visibility to the public.
Quite possibly the most traditional PR tactic, media relations--or working with reporters to earn a company news coverage--scores a PR person major points with clients. Media relations is key for a few reasons. For one, potential customers or clients will consider your business more reputable if they’ve heard about it in the media. Secondly, it increases brand recognition without paying the big bucks for ad placement. When an article is written or a story is aired about your company for something it’s doing, you become a newsmaker. This helps your business appear more credible, provided it’s a positive story. If it’s not a positive story, read on.
Think of some of the major news stories over the last year. The JetBlue flight attendant flipping out aboard a flight. The BP oil spill. The Toyota recalls. Sure, everyone aspires for their careers to sparkle with positive press and repeated success. But as we’ve seen time and time again, the unthinkable can happen. A crisis can hit.
Crisis communicators specialize in handling the negative publicity that comes with a company’s bad turn. They know how to talk to media, and they know how to answer the tough questions from the public. They can provide you with a strategy and a plan. You need to respond to whatever crisis may occur so that your business doesn’t tank over an “oops” moment. If you’ve never thought about what type of crisis your company or business could experience, think about it now. Talk to your boss, or if you’re self-employed, contact a consultant who can work with you on understanding the basics of crisis communication. Trust me: You want to have a crisis PR pro on your contact list.
What is the most valuable asset to a company? You may have a few answers, but it all boils down to the people who buy a product or the clients who utilize your service. These individuals make the purchases that provide revenue to keep a company afloat. Good PR translates to good service. It means establishing rapport with customers, clients and other major stakeholders (vendors, potential investors, or employees). Do you have a strategy for building a relationship with your stakeholders? Do you know who your stakeholders are?
In a world of widespread social media use where companies are engaging more directly with consumers than ever before, it’s vital that you have a PR strategy to build relationships and show that you care. This can be as easy as having a company Facebook page where you respond directly to customers. It can entail having a monthly newsletter sent out to stakeholders, or inviting your most loyal clients to lunch each quarter to thank them for their business.
Using public relations for your company or business does not mean you have to devote a huge percentage of resources to a PR budget. It just makes good business sense to include it somewhere along the line. Whether you hire a PR firm, a solo consultant or just read PR for Dummies and handle it all yourself, PR should be part of your business plan. After all, every Made Woman needs her business savvy and proper public image in case the Los Angeles Times ever calls.