What Kind of Things Can a Public Relations Firm Do For Your Corporate Business?

A company’s success can hinge on the relationship they have with the public and how they are perceived in the media. Some companies choose to try and handle all of these matters from the inside with their own PR department but others feel the need to enlist an outside service to ensure that all matters of public view and perception are handled by highly trained professionals.

A good public relations firm can take your businesses success to levels you never even imagined, but the question on many CEO’s minds remains, “Will the results obtained from enlisting an outside PR firm offset the cost we have to pay for the services?”

What can a PR firm do for You?

Establish Relationships

The key to success in any business is developing and maintaining solid relationships, not just with your clients, but with investors, vendors and employees. Most of the time an in house PR department can easily grow and maintain the relationships with customers and vendors, but it gets much more difficult for an inside department to handle relationships with vendors and especially other employees.

An outside firm can readily handle all of these relationships impartially, with only the company’s best interests in mind. This almost makes the company’s investment in an outside firm worth it without even considering all of the other positives they can offer – happy employees and investors make a much more productive work place and in turn can really drive the profits and, therefore, the success of the business.

Save you Money

It may not look like it at the outset, because the initial investment of enlisting a public relations firm can be reasonably high, but hiring an outside firm to handle all of your public relations can save your corporation a good deal of money in the long run.

Without a PR firm to do at least some of the work involved in overall company public relations, your corporation would need (depending on the size of the company) at the very least one, most likely several, full time employees. The hourly wage paid to these full time employees may seem like peanuts when compared to the dollars that would be paid out to a public relations firm, but when you factor in the benefits, paid holidays, paid vacations and overall annual salaries of these employees your corporation could end up saving thousands and thousands of dollars a year by hiring an outside public relations firm.

You can use the services of a public relations firm when you need them, and forego the services when you don’t. It’s not as if a member of the firm will be in your office collecting a paycheck – you pay for the services that you use and nothing more.

Diversity

A good public relations firm can often offer you much more than what used to be considered the basics of good PR. Many public relations firms today can offer everything your PR department and your marketing and advertising departments can do and more.

By enlisting the services of a good, reputable public relations firm you can effectively turn your own office into a lean and mean machine. You won’t have to cross train employees to take on roles that they are not comfortable or experienced with – your sales force won’t have to be concerned with any phase of marketing or advertisement. Your valuable sales staff can get focused on what they were trained to do – sell, while a PR firm takes care of developing the relationships and public perceptions.

Emergency Services

A public relations firm can bail you out of trouble in the event of a PR emergency. PR firm representatives are trained to handle all types of scandals or problems that crop up and can affect your corporation’s image in the public eye. Press releases can be quickly written and submitted and press conferences can be put together in short order to ensure that your company keeps its positive reputation with all of your current and potential clients, investors and employees.

Whether you decide to enlist an outside public relations firm to handle any or all of your company’s PR or marketing, solid relationships are the cornerstone of your company’s success. If you don’t have a rock solid PR department, than hiring a public relations firm could be the best decision for your company’s future.

How to Effectively Target Your Online Marketing Communications

Successful businesses today need to use the internet to market themselves. Using a wide variety of content, like social media posts, multimedia and content, a business can develop a whole range of communications to market effectively online. The effectiveness of these communications depends upon how well it is targeted. And targeting your marketing is the key to making sure it is seen by the right people, at the right time.

The beauty of targeted marketing is that you can make your messages suit very specific groups of people. For example, with AdWords you can target the audience who will be searching for the topics which relate directly to your business. It is one of the most powerful ways to get your message across.

However, the question we are often asked is: How do I decide what the message is?

This is a good question! It is something marketing professionals have been working on for years, and there is no set formula. What you need to do is study your audience and break them down into groups that can be targeted.

Here’s a quick example. An online shoe store sells brand name shoes for men, women and children. They could put out general marketing communications about shoes, however, if they break it down and target each group giving them the information they are most interested in, and putting the content where they will find it, they will have a much better chance of attracting the right people to the right products.

By creating audience profiles, a business can very carefully develop content which will be interesting to each audience member. So, for ladies shoes, it could be about the latest designer range. For children’s shoes, it could be an article about new school shoes on sale.

By aligning your content to your target audience, and to their profiles, you will have a much better success rate. This clever alignment will influence the tone of your communications, and the look and feel of them. These are all vital to attracting the right people and getting a positive reaction from them.

Here are some of the questions to ask about your audience when you are developing new content:

• What do the audience like to do? Hobbies, fashions and pass times.

• What are their interests? Interests, trends and news.

• What other companies or services do they use? Look at your competition.

• What do the audience want to avoid? Knowing what they don’t like or want is vital.

• What are the audience aspiring to? Aspirations are what drive consumers to buy.

• What does the audience need? Needs and solutions drive consumers to act.

By using the right keywords in your online ads and effectively targeting your content, you will get the best from your communications.

The next step is to identify the best places to post the information. Facebook is best for regular, friendly updates and starting a conversation with customers. LinkedIn is best suited to business and specialist content you can share to show your expertise. Twitter is great for fast and real time news and updates.

By having a suite of targeted and regular communications, you will be able to effectively place your own business within the view of the people you are looking for it. And they are more likely to respond to what you have to say too. Communications which have a powerful message and are delivered to the right people, and which also have a clear call to action will always reap rewards.

As you start to plan your communications and marketing strategy for the coming year, consider these points so you can create targeted communications which will create the results you need.

Check out the relevant video resource at http://youtu.be/peJIHfaf2vI

Get Results From Your Public Relations Firm: Do’s and Don’ts for Start-Ups Seeking Publicity

Most new business owners know the value of publicity for promoting their company’s reputation and selling their product or service. However, many don’t know how to go about getting it. They may hire a public relations firm – a good idea even for start-ups – then be disappointed with the results.

This does not have to be the case. If you are the owner of a new business, you can have a successful working relationship with your public relations firm and achieve your goals simply by following some basic guidelines.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that should put you on the right track.

DO:

1. Expect honest representation. Your public relations firm should have a good idea of what will – and will not – get attention in the news media. They should also know the best media outlets and reporters to approach to get editorial coverage for your business. Listen to them. Problems in a PR firm-client relationship often stem from public relations counselors going against their better judgment and pitching a story they know will not fly, just to please an insistent client. Media pitches for a company with a reputation of sending out material that isn’t newsworthy are likely to be ignored.

2. Communicate everything about your business to your public relations counselor – not just what you think he or she needs to know. You may have some hidden gems of stories in your business that you – being an insider and not attuned to media interests – may not think are all that interesting. You should also share information about any potential problems or embarrassing situations. A PR professional will keep your confidences and help you manage negative publicity, should it occur.

3. Ask for a crisis communication plan. You may never have to utilize it – and let’s hope that’s true – but having a crisis communication plan in place and circulated among top officers of your company will come in handy to tap down negative stories before they balloon into major problems that could damage your company’s reputation.

4. Have a media contact procedure in place. Everyone – from the receptionist to the president – needs to know what to do if and when the media calls. The best advice is to have everyone refer calls from the news media to the public relations firm. They can sort out all the particulars and arrange for any interviews.

5. Respond quickly to interview requests as they are presented to you by your public relations person. Media interviews are an opportunity for you to present your company the way you want it presented. But reporters have deadlines; if you aren’t available, they will interview someone else, and you may miss out on an opportunity to get positive media coverage.

DON’T:

1. Expect a guarantee. Media coverage cannot be guaranteed, unless you do a “pay-for-play” agreement with a particular publication, in which you buy advertising and get an article on your company in return. Other than that type of arrangement – usually referred to as an “advertorial” – no public relations firm can, or should, guarantee coverage.

2. Be a one-hit wonder. One big round of publicity is not going to carry you very far. A good public relations program is an ongoing enterprise, and often a “drip-drip-drip” strategy is better than a one-time splashy feature.

3. Be caught unprepared. Ask for media training. You may be a great communicator in many ways, but doing a media interview is a special skill. Having some knowledge of how the media works, developing strong messages, and practicing delivering them will make you a better, more confident company representative.

4. Expect media coverage to do it all. There are many other ways to reach your targeted audience, including social media, marketing communications, and opportunities for direct engagement. A good PR person will look at your firm – its goals, its product or service offerings, its target markets – and design a communication strategy specific to your needs.

5. Be discouraged if your plan takes a while to get off the ground. You want to have everything – messages, action plan, trained spokespersons, etc. – in place before you go public. First impressions are lasting ones.

Choosing the Right Marketing Communications Agency

How do you choose the right agency to handle your marketing communications? There are several options out there, and many of them employ effective marketing strategies of their own, so going through the options to find out the best match for your company can be an arduous task. Here are some of the things you should look at if you’re looking to hire an external firm for your marketing communications.

Meeting deadlines

All agencies you contact will assure you about how effective they are at working to deadlines, but several agencies lack proper structure and projects can end up taking longer than expected. This will end up costing you money, so it is always better to be sure of this aspect first. Ask for previous clients as references so that you can see how effective they have been at completing goals within deadlines.

Aligning business objectives

The marketing communications agency you choose is going to be handling the interactions between you and your customers. This means they will need to be totally clear on your business objectives and goals in order to develop effective campaigns that are suitable for your business. If your objectives are not aligned, your chosen agency may end up producing marketing material that could conflict with your business values and will damage the brand image you have built.

Returns on Investment

The agency you choose should be able to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and provide you with reports. Any reputable agency will provide clients with reporting of its services, but the level of detail in these reviews are important. You can ask for a methodology report to see how they review the effectiveness of the campaigns they have conducted.

Similar clients

When looking for an agency, the easiest way to find one that could fit with your business is to look for an agency that has handled a similar client. This way, they will have experience in dealing with a similar scenario, and will be accustomed with the market you are trying to tap into. This will ensure that they will not be making any unfounded assumptions when handling your marketing communications efforts.

One mistake a lot of companies make when looking for a marketing agency is that they ask for visual communication samples, such as sample brochures or posters. However, looking at such content alone will not provide you with an effective insight into their process. What is more important is how effective they are at communicating with you to get your message across effectively to your customers.