PR not always about your products, events

Note: This article originally appeared on our blog in 2009. We have updated it and re-published it.

Companies that care about their communities and strive to become integral in them gain positive feelings and more engaged employees. They also cultivate a more positive brand.

In an article in Entrepreneur Syed Balkhi writes, “Letting consumers see the people behind the business is a powerful way to humanize your brand. If consumers are looking at just your logo all the time, they might not see your brand as human. So, put your team members in the spotlight.”

Additionally, according to Entrepreneur, “numerous studies show that the higher a company’s CSR score (the more it is committed to volunteerism), the more pride employees have in their organization — and in their job — and the happier and more satisfied they are with their job and company.” Such positive feelings are important to individual and company perceptions.

Go beyond earned media

Many people fall into the mindset that PR is only about gaining earned media placement for a company’s products or news and events. Public relations go so far beyond simply getting an outlet to carry your news. The best PR tells a story. It intrigues. It inspires. It elevates.

There is other side of publicity sharing information about your leaders and staff to humanize your company.

Create depth and dimension with unique stories

As an example, a local video production company has a photographer who is interested in documenting a small social business which is taking medical supplies to Ghana. Supporting the project and assisting her in obtaining donations, or shipping them or storing them demonstrates a real commitment to a cause created by the team member. Sharing information about the photographer’s search for funding and the skills that he will use to document the project can support the cause and expand the image of the company in the minds of consumers.

I’m not suggesting that you exploit your staff or their good works, but that you seek opportunities to offer information that really opens up what people think of your team and your firm. Being in business means being a part of a larger community. Demonstrating how you and your associates do that gives depth to your individual and personal brands as well as lifts the perception of your firm.

Gaining earned media is more than just telling us that you’ve just hired a new Director of Marketing. Give your staff opportunity to volunteer and be involved. Identify causes the company wishes to support. Then go out and do good works.

We are all more than just our titles and functions. We are the people who make up the company, not the human resources. So, share the interesting information about those who are the life of the company.

Photo credit: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

PR Important Dates and Holidays

This article originally appeared on our blog in 2008. We’ve updated it with the information and examples of how you can use holidays, national observance days and more in your marketing and PR strategy.

Keep up with annual holidays which may impact plans for your company’s public relations and marketing.

Annual holidays and observances are natural PR hooks

PR pros plan our client’s calendars, social media strategy and other activities around holidays and important remembrance events. We also utilize important anniversaries as hooks for our client’s PR messaging. Contests and promotions can be built around holidays and observances. Read our article on contests and promotions

For years there have been Labor Day sales, Columbus Day sales and other types of promotional events tied to government holidays. When many people are off work they look for activity and shopping has always been something people do when they have a block of time. Though with the advent of online shopping’s explosion, new holidays like Prime Day have been concocted to drive online shopping into targeted channels.

American Express® defined Small Business Saturday to encourage and recognize the predominant form of US business — small businesses — and the resulting adoption of this single day has driven many campaigns across the United States.

Don’t overlook significant corporate anniversaries

If your business has been operating for a long time, say 100 years, and you’re coming up on that significant anniversary (or even 50 years) developing a pitch for the media or sending a media release about how the firm has reached this unusual mark could potentially land you some really cool mentions.

Using this same example, you could build an entire month of social media strategy around the number 100, recognizing your best 100 clients; or giving prizes to 100 customers across the course of the month. Brainstorm with your team to develop ideas on how to recognize and honor those that helped achieve longevity in business.

Here’s a link to the calendar of American Holidays as recognized by the US government, but these are only the ones recognized by government. 

Wacky holidays, national observances can used in your marketing

For example, July is national ice cream month. When planning your social media calendar or your marketing plan for the month, you can use this as well as other unusual observances in your content strategy. Find a way to tie them in with promotions and ads to piggyback on buzz which is being created across social media related to the observance. Don’t forget to use the official hashtags in your posts.

Time and Date provides a very long list of all kinds of unusual holidays. BrownieLocks.com has been around a long time and I’ve referred to their list for years. 

You will also want to check your local events and holidays as well. Is there a significant date in the history of your town? Or how about an important event that is associated with your town?

In the Charleston area in August, many people remember the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo. That tragic storm gets people talking: about hurricane preparedness, the storm’s impact on their lives and structural soundness of buildings and much more. If you’re a home builder or building supplies provider, you could build a very informative educational campaign around the lessons learned about being prepared by interviewing locals, getting insights into what’s different in the building codes and more that could be used in blog posts, social media activity and in-store promotions.

Using Google My Business you can keep the public informed about your openings and closures around legal holidays such as New Years Day, Memorial Day and all the legally recognized holidays. Google My Business even prompts you to update your hours in the weeks prior to an important holiday. 

Let your messages be informed by date driven PR

With creativity you can have fun and grow your business and even gain some new media attention.

Need assistance planning your marketing strategy to tie in with holidays? Give us a call at 843.628.6434 or use our contact form to get in touch.

Photo by Tobias Zils on Unsplash

PR is individual

What does a PR consultant do?

In the many years that I’ve worked with companies to develop public relations plans, the number one misperception regarding PR is that it is a simple set of activities that can be done quickly, like creating one widget after another from the same die.

Just as each owner of a company, entrepreneur or executive in a corporation is an individual, so is each firm’s public relations plan. Many clients perceive that PR is fast, simple, cheap and easy. Not true. There is no cookie cutter way to implement public relations. However, there are common activities for all clients. PR done correctly these tasks are time-intensive and require one-to-one approaches.

So, just what exactly is Public Relations? Is it sending press releases to media contacts? Staging attention grabbing activities at major public gathering points? Sending product samples to celebrities?

What is Public Relations?

Public relations is the on-going, continuous building of a wave of conversation and information in the public realm or segment. Public relations, as the name says, is the development of relationships with the many audiences of an enterprise. Public relations is cumulative, long-term and carries different perceptions as opposed to advertising, which I believe PR must support. Public relations creates an environment which makes sales and marketing activities successful. In many respects, public relations is the fertilizer for the seeds sown by advertising, sales and marketing activities.

I counsel and support my clients as they seek to:

  • Be authoritative (speak about issues, teach, present, comment)
  • Be alert to opportunity; Make the news
  • Look for trends and comment on them; Be visible in the news
  • Have a blog and post weekly
  • Seek out and communicate with bloggers, forums and others talking about subjects of interest to your consumers
  • Have whitepapers on the company website so the company is positioned with authority.
  • Conduct webinars
  • Take polls and announce the results
  • Post all news releases on the company website
  • Post all news releases on searchable sites and make sure your news is in a syndicated feed
  • Post information about the company in contributed articles on sites that accept contributed articles

Specifically, public relations activities can be organized into 5 discrete sets of activities:

  1. Media relations activity
    1. Media releases
      1. Creation of media materials (formerly called press kit)
    2. Creation of storylines and pitches to gain publicity
    3. Contributed articles
    4. Creation of white papers
    5. Responding to media / journalist’s queries for experts
    6. Coaching regarding on how to be interviewed
  2. Conversation origination, participation and relationship building
    1. Customers
    2. Bloggers
    3. Forums
    4. Bulletin Boards
  3. Special events
    1. Media events (such as photo opps or interesting attention getting activities)
    2. Customer focused events
    3. Product Launches
    4. Grand openings
    5. Expos/Trade shows
    6. Conferences development, planning and organization
    7. Development of Speaking engagements/Speaker’s Bureau
  4. Reputation management
    1. Being ready with talking points on potential issues with regard to a company
    2. Keeping management apprised of issues that might effect their company
    3. Coaching management on how to conduct interviews
  5. Crisis communications

In addition, your PR consultant should assist you and your firm by creating messages, to communication touch points. A PR pro helps you learn to stay on message and keep all messages aligned to support long-term goals.

Many entrepreneurs and companies conduct their own public relations activities, however, as an entrepreneur, it is hard to develop a company and stay focused on the specifics of your PR plan.

For those who need support, we recommend you consult a communications professional to develop plans, as well as coach and guide the firm to the plan’s implementation. It’s worth your time, money and energy to plan wisely and work with a professional.