However brilliant your product or service, if nobody knows about it then your business will struggle to make sales, and a business without sales is a failure in motion.
Here are some tips from PR expert Jessica Huie on how to make sure your business is planted firmly in the awareness of your target audience in 2014:
• Inject your human interest story into your branding
Nothing is more powerful than authenticity in PR. If you genuinely believe that your business adds value to your customer’s lives, then its important to communicate that personally. By being visible rather than relying on your faceless brand to sell itself, you allow your customers the opportunity to understand the ethos behind your brand and your business values, and if you are marketing to the right audience then your values will resonate with them and make them more likely to buy.
We live in a society overwhelmed by choice, which make it all the more necessary to let your customers understand your own personal human-interest story. Do this by asking yourself what the inspiration behind your business was, what is your vision? How are you improving, changing or inventing something which will benefit your audience? Give your customers an insight into the entrepreneur behind the business through your PR materials and watch how effective this PR approach can be.
• Be patient and consistent
PR unlike advertising is not a quick hit. It requires a consistent and ongoing effort in order to be most effective. A customer’s buying journey begins with awareness followed by familiarity before moving to consideration purchase and then loyalty. So the more that customers become aware of your brand the better – hence where the outdated all publicity is good publicity line comes from. Equally unlike advertising (which is more expensive,) PR is not guaranteed. It requires the creation of a news angle e.g.; ‘Huie’s brand secure record sales targets in Selfridges,’ ‘Celebrities endorse Huie’s brand,’ in order to capture the imagination of the media and inspire them to write about you/your business.
• Create a 12 month plan
If we consider the first part of the year, New Years Day, Valentines, Mother’s Day, these occasions may well have an impact on your customer’s buying patterns. Creating a press release which is ‘pegged’ on to these occasions will increase your chance of securing media interest, so plan ahead and be aware of media lead times so you don’t miss out on a PR opportunity.
• Stay abreast of current affairs and their relevance to your business
If we look at the stories currently in the media, Rail fare increases, 100 year jail sentences considered, the Princes Trust survey findings that three quarters of a million young people in the UK have nothing to live for due to unemployment levels, each of these news stories may represent a PR opportunity depending on your business or service. By staying aware of current news you can include reactive PR into your strategy as well as proactive, producing press releases offering a contribution to a current news debate, a solution to a problem being discussed or an alternate opinion.
• Truly understand your customer
A useful exercise is spending time thinking about your customer in depth. Where do they live, how old are they, where do they grocery shop, go on holiday, are they property owners? Once you can answer these questions you’ll begin to create a picture of your customer which will allow you to easily move on to the next point…
• Seek out ideal potential partners for cross promotion
By truly understanding your customer you can identify other brands that share your target market. This synergy create the perfect opportunity to collaborate with brands who may be bigger or more established than you and cross promote by marketing to their audience as well as your own and of course returning the favour. List five brands that are not your competition, but share your target audience as your partnership targets.
• Be giving
It was one of rap music’s richest entrepreneurs, Russell Simmons who said “you can never get before you give.” It’s a blueprint which can be hugely effective once you work out what you can actually afford to give away.
Free stuff creates a buzz, creates awareness, encourages people to try your products, creates positive brand association and a buying habit. In this era its easy to create a product designed purely to be given away free. Think E-books and audio tapes, the ideas are endless.
• Be creative
Creativity for me, is the best part of PR. Unlike advertising, which has a very set agenda and sales pitch, PR is whatever you decide to make it. Are you a fashion brand? Then create a piece for the royal baby, run a take-away food chain? Deliver to the homeless on Christmas day. PR can do good whilst creating opportunities to secure media coverage in the process.
• Think global
Your business reach is only as limited as your mindset. If you or your PR team are creating a press release then why limit your focus to the UK? The vast majority of media is also online now and if your business is international then you’d be crazy not to raise awareness globally. That said, focus on one territory at a time for maximum impact.
• Ensure you have effective tools
Undeniably the most important tip. Your press release is your business shop window and will create a first impression. Ensure it is professional, and includes all of the crucial information, and use the first paragraph to sum up your news angle succinctly.
Jessica Huie, Founder of JH Public Relations and Color blind Cards is an entrepreneur with 15 years media experience, having worked with some of the UK’s best known celebrities, entrepreneurs and brands.
JH PR’s Do Your Own PR package includes a tailored press release, founder’s biog and media contact list and is priced at £300.