Public relations is not about promoting a company; it’s about promoting what’s behind that company – what it stands for and what it does in the community to help others. We believe that nothing happens until something is sold. But to sell, you need to earn trust and credibility. PR is how trust and credibility are earned using the following:
- Promote Your Vision
- Create a Connection with Your Customers
- Find Your Higher Purpose
Forbes calls PR the Persuasion Business, where you try to convince an audience – both inside your business and out in the community – to embrace your ideas, recognize your accomplishments, support your position, and ultimately, purchase your product.
The Public Relations Society of America says public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and the public.
We believe in another definition: Public relations is an exercise that ultimately creates revenue. It’s the process of connecting with your marketplace, setting the stage for greater sales and creating competitive advantage. Many companies overlook this asset and treat PR as nothing more than issuing press releases and patting themselves on the back for their products. It goes deeper than this. Here are a few tips to succeed at public relations:
1. Promote Your Vision
Public relations means promoting your company, yourself as the owner, your vision and your higher purpose to create a connection with your consumers and the marketplace as a whole. That connection doesn’t necessarily have to be about your product. It’s more about nurturing a relationship with the community based on other aspects beyond just your product or service.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you run for local office and you’re in the newspaper a lot. It’s not enough to speak endlessly about political topics or push your agenda on the public. It’s about working for the benefit of the community, getting out there to talk about educational programs, the library, police, teachers and roads. It’s about getting your name into the marketplace to enhance the relationship you have with the community at large.
2. Create a Connection with Your Customers
One of our clients owns a swimming pool company. He has built his business by forming connections with the local sports leagues in town, giving away t-shirts to any team that wants them. His only request is that his company’s name is displayed on the back. This business owner knows that when the time comes for a family to decide to install a pool, they’ll call him.
This is a form of public relations. On the one hand, it shows the business owner’s support of children’s sports in the community. On the other, it makes good business sense to put the company name out there so publicly.
Public relations can also be about:
- Serving the public need by raising funds for a good cause, such as
organizing a cancer walk to raise money for research.
- Writing a book and giving it away to members of the community. You’re
establishing yourself as an expert in your field, yet you’re serving the
people by sharing your knowledge of the topic at hand.
3. Find Your Higher Purpose
Giving back to the community is how you as a business owner can serve your higher purpose. Having a higher purpose identifies you in a way that creates contact with the community, going above and beyond selling your product.
As another example, we have a client who owns a manufacturing facility in a poor non-English speaking community. The business owner wanted to increase employees’ achievements, give them a greater standard of living and enhance their lives. So, on her own time and dime, she brought in tutors to teach them how to read and write English. This was her higher purpose as a business owner.
This action not only benefited the employees, it helped the company, resulting in newspaper coverage, articles and discussions in which the community looked at her with great respect.
Higher purposes are not about me. It’s about selflessly achieving a bigger goal that benefits the community as a whole. Here are some examples:
- Companies who are in the food industry can provide quality nutrition
initiatives to the community by using locally grown organic foods.
Yes, it’s marketing but it’s also public relations.
- Issue press releases about activities or events that have a redeeming
quality. The key is to make it attractive to your community instead of
merely using the press release as a tool to boast about your success.
For example, when you hire a new employee, the focus of the press
release should discuss how your company is creating jobs and opportunity.
- Start a blog and talk about things other than your product. Even though
it may sound divisive if you talk about politics of some sort or issues
about the environment, you’re telling your customers that you have
the confidence to take a stand. Hire a company who can help you
craft effective content marketing. When you create human interest
articles, your community will feel like they know you, identify with you,
and relate to common interests.
- Have a program for students to work during the summer for your
- Create a scholarship fund for students to go to college.
- Make donations or partner with a charitable cause. For example,
the non-profit Clothes the Deal is recognized as “advocating and
constructing communities of compassion and human understanding.
” If you bring in a suit, they will clean it, repair it, and make it available
to anyone that needs a suit to interview for a job. Just as our mission
is to give businesses a “second wind,” their mission gives business
clothes a “second life” and someone else a second chance.
The intrinsic human interest value in all of these examples should not be understated. When people read about the good you’re doing, this gives them a positive feeling about you, your company and your products. By communicating with the marketplace, you’re telling your potential customers that you care.
Take a stand, go out there, have an opinion and publish it. Whether you write a blog, make donations to a school, or set up a scholarship fund for college students, public relations helps you to stand out amongst your competitors. However, the key is to do it selflessly and make it relevant to the community. Remember, it’s not about you. Remember that Public Relations today is all about your community.