3rd February 2014
By Jessica Huie, an entrepreneur with 15 years media experience and founder of JH Public Relations and Color blind Cards.
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 to make sure your business is planted firmly in the awareness of your target audience in 2014:
1. 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 it’s important to communicate that personally.
Being visible rather than relying on your faceless brand to sell itself, enables your customers to understand the ethos behind your brand and business values. If you’re marketing to the right audience then your values and human-interest story will resonate and make them more likely to buy. Identify this by asking yourself what the inspiration behind your business was, and what’s 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.
2. 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 purchase consideration and then loyalty. The more customers become aware of your brand the better – hence where the outdated all publicity is good publicity line comes from.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 secures record sales targets in Selfridges’, ‘Celebrities endorse Huie’s brand’ etc. in order to capture the imagination of the media and inspire them to write about you/your business.
3. Create a 12 month plan If we consider the first part of the year, occasions such as New Year’s Day, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day may well have an impact on your customer’s buying patterns. Creating a press release which is ‘pegged’ onto these occasions will increase your chances of securing media interest, so plan ahead and be aware of media lead times so you don’t miss out on a PR opportunity.
4. Stay abreast of current affairs and their relevance to your business If we look at the stories currently reported in the media (rail fare increases, youth unemployment levels, increased demand for financial services), each of these may represent a PR opportunity depending on your business or service. By staying aware of current news you can include reactive PR in your strategy as well as proactive, producing press releases offering contributions to current news debates, a solution to a problem being discussed or an alternate opinion.
5. Truly understand your customer Spend time thinking about your customer in depth. Where do they live, how old are they, where do they 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…
6. 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 creates the perfect opportunity to collaborate with brands who may be bigger or more established than your business. List five partnership targets that are not your competition, but share your target audience.
7. 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 it’s easy to create a product designed purely to be given away as a freebie. Think E-books and audio tapes – the ideas are endless.
8. 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 garment 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.
9. Think global Your business reach is only as limited as your mindset. If you or an employee are creating a press release then why limit your focus to the UK? The vast majority of media is also online 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.
10. 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’s professional, and includes all of the crucial information, and use the first paragraph to sum up your news angle succinctly.
To kick off 2014 with an affordable PR campaign JH PR offer a Do Your Own PR package that includes a tailored press release, founder’s biog and media contact list. For more info visit http://www.jhpr.co.uk/.