Three things you need to know before you start with PR

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With the start of the new year, and the optimism that the vaccine roll out around the world is bringing, we are seeing a very encouraging renewed interest in PR and marketing, particularly from the smaller organisations and SME’s who have been cautiously managing their budgets over the last twelve months. As things start to pick up again globally, it’s time to think about restarting, reworking or simply launching your marketing communications plans and PR, but before you dive in, make sure you really know what you are dealing with – this week we’re sharing our three key fundamentals to help ensure you have the right understanding of the task ahead.

When you’re introducing a new brand or launching a new product, word of mouth is essential in building trust, raising awareness, and ultimately achieving those all-important sales.

To generate sales, you need to increase your brand awareness, word of mouth, loyalty and referrals, but that’s a time consuming process, and all these elements are interconnected, so where do you start?

As we all know only too well, smaller businesses and start up’s have particularly tight budgets, limited resources and sensitive cash flows, making it a challenge to develop and successfully implement an effective PR & marketing strategy, but if you don’t invest time and effort in this, how will anyone ever know who you are and what you do? You’re setting yourself up to fail if you neglect this area.

In an ideal world of course, you would hire professionals to support you in establishing your marketing strategy, but this is not always possible, due to financial restraints. In these situations, it’s really important that business owners and entrepreneurs know enough about PR and marketing to enable them to initiate a strategy or work with freelance support effectively.

So what do you need to know about PR and social media as a business leader or entrepreneur?

1. It’s going to cost you!

Often considered free marketing, the mysterious art of PR and social media is massively misunderstood. It’s a bit of an enigma, seen as some kind of magic fairy dust that can be sprinkled quickly and easily (on top of a regular workload) to ‘build a buzz’! Now, whilst it certainly is a cost effective way of reaching an audience in comparison to advertising, unfortunately it is by no means free. In order to really maximise word of mouth marketing and PR, you do need to invest time and effort – online and offline.

2. You need strong foundations

Don’t even think about promoting yourself, in any way, until you have your ducks in a row. Are you clear about your brand identity, values, unique selling points, key messages? Are these all accurately and effectively reflected on your website?

Your website is the hub for everything you do, and still generally the first destination for people who may hear the ‘buzz’ and want to verify what they’ve heard. It’s your shop-front and a fantastic resource to develop your marketing strategy in the future, because you can track so much activity and harvest essential data about the efficacy of your current marketing. It should be attractive, full of interesting, valuable, varied content, and easy to navigate – so that it can be linked to and used a destination for the (hopefully growing number of) people you engage on social media. Don’t start work on PR and social media until this foundation is strong!

3. You need to really know your audience

Do you really know your audience, or have you made some assumptions and generalisations? Have you actually reached out and spoken to them online and offline? You may not have the budget for a full-scale brand audit or feasibility study, but hopefully you have existing networks, so reach out and ask those all-important questions! Create focus groups and make sure you aren’t making assumptions, but hearing directly from the horses’ mouths. Establish their challenges, concerns, interests and motivations in order to help you develop a content strategy. Find out what and who will influence them most – which online and offline channels they engage with, when and how.

Those are the basic fundamentals from which you can build on. There is no magic fairy dust I’m afraid, PR and social media strategies both take time and effort in terms of research, data, activation, review, analysis and evolution. Whilst there’s no single cookie cutter approach that can be applied to every start up, if you are well connected, have something interesting to say, and deliver your message in the right way to the right people, at the right time, word will definitely spread – you just need to invest the time and effort to get it started and maintain that momentum.

If you’re looking for more information or advice on managing PR and social media with limited time and resources, please do drop me a message for a consultation, conversation, or to join one of our online workshops: sam@footstepcommunications.com

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