Understanding Public Relations
Public opinion can make or break a company. If people have a favorable opinion of your business, they are more likely to become regular patrons of your products or services. But if you get on their bad side, you can expect a boycott. To promote one opinion over the other, it’s crucial to engage in public relations.
PR attempts to bridge the gap between businesses and the public, which includes their customers, the media, and their shareholders. It utilizes subjects and stories that would attract their interest and build a positive perception of the company. Additionally, PR professionals analyze and interpret the public’s attitude and its impact on the business.
What PR Can Do for You
Many mistakenly think of the PR profession is limited to simply talking to media outlets to build up your company. But that’s just a small chunk of their potential deliverables. They can do much more, like:
- Represent your company .
- Formulate and spread your brand story.
- Generate positive buzz for your company and draw beneficial public attention .
- Build and maintain relationships with your market or target public.
- Draft press releases and send them to relevant media outlets.
- Establish close contact with the media .
- Create content to engage public’s interest, such as newsletters, articles, and websites.
- Arrange public appearances for the company or the client in a show or press conference.
- Arrange events and programs for clients.
- Turn around bad press and perform damage control.
Distinguishing Public Relations and Advertising
PR is often confused with advertising; some would say it’s a form of advertisement. But PR is quite different – in some ways, it’s better.
For starters, ads require companies to pay for their message to be played or promoted on TV, newspaper, or radio while PR creates publicity for free. PR specialists do this by creating meaningful, newsworthy stories that journalists and bloggers find personally appealing and interesting for their readers, listeners, and viewers. Crafting the message and contacting the media are often the main expenses. In a nutshell, advertising utilizes paid media while PR employs earned media.
PR is considered more effective than advertising because it can potentially reach a larger audience. Great stories are picked up from paper to paper and then to blogs and social media. Additionally, it has a longer shelf life than ads because good articles are revisited time and time again. On the other hand, advertisements need to be constantly refreshed or else they grow stale and tiresome. Lastly, having your company featured in an article by a magazine or a news outlet brings credibility to your brand; something that an ad can’t deliver.
Do you really need PR?
Almost all companies need PR because customers want the company that they support to present the right image, message, and reputation in their minds. They expect a company to behave in a certain way and their purchasing decisions will be affected by their opinions of the business. Here’s a checklist of the other benefits of PR:
- Anticipate crisis, enabling appropriate damage control when it hits your brand.
- Increase brand visibility, awareness, and demand to the public.
- Integrate social media into your marketing strategy and convert fans into sales.
- Organize worthwhile events to generate awareness and attract investments .
- Improve your brand reputation by molding public opinion and shaping brand perception.
- Build connections between your brand and consumers.
- Develop noteworthy stories that capture the attention of the media and your market.
PR services are especially needed by startups, which are often totally unknown to investors and the public, and need as much goodwill and good PR as they can muster.
It’s no surprise that one of the biggest challenges in starting a business is generating buzz for your brand and earning the attention of the people who matter in your industry. Few have heard of your brand. Why should financiers invest in you? Why should consumers buy what you’re selling? They need to know and, fortunately, PR is one of most cost-effective methods to give them the reasons that they are looking for.
Here are some basic PR tips for startups that can help:
#1 Build Your Buyer Persona
The first question is often the hardest, “Who do you want your brand to sell to?” The right audience will find your products and services relevant, and care about your product’s development. It’s critical to identify their characteristics to be able to create a message that appeals to them.
#2 Get Yourself Out There
Attend as many parties, events, and conferences as possible. The Department of Trade and Industry in partnership with M2.0 Communications held a tech startup conference called SlingshotMNL last year and similar events are planned regularly. It’s the best way to make yourself known, to expand your network, and meet prospective clients and partners.
#3 Be Different
90 percent of the time, business startups face numerous companies of the same kind which ramps up the competition. It’s critical to determine what sets you apart. What value do you give to consumers that your competitors don’t? Your process? Your attitude? Your design? It’s not necessary to introduce a totally new product or service but it has to be distinct enough so that people have a reason to come to you instead of another provider.
#4 Pitch Relevant Stories
A pitch should be worth the read. Any journalist or editor can tell from a mile away if it’s not even worthy of opening, let alone reading. Personalizing your pitch and not making it seem that the recipient is the hundredth person to receive the same spiel is very important. Focus on eye-opening and engaging stories that people will want to read.
#5 Be the Darling of the Press
Press coverage is vital in building your brand. When a company is picked up by the media, it will help garner clientele and assist in building a trustworthy and credible reputation. A published feature in a newspaper or magazine gives the impression that the brand is something to watch out for. To ensure a story’s release, a wide network of media influencers is incredibly helpful.
Remember that although the media is always voraciously hungering for the latest and juiciest news out there, they are picky eaters. They have their individual preferences so be sure that you’re part of their diet.
#6 Use Social Media
Gaining people’s attention is easier thanks to the wide reach of social media platforms. In fact, there are 48 million social media users in the Philippines alone who spend hours scouring their feeds for news, entertainment, and recommendations. Social is a cost-efficient way of marketing a brand to people. It also enables your users to engage in a conversation with your brand. Start posting pictures in Instagram, update posts in Facebook, and encourage people to share them. Create a catchy hashtag and hope that it will trend.
#7 Be Recognized
Being nominated or receiving an award will grab everyone’s attention. It’s a great PR move for your company, bringing both media and consumer attention. Also, a nomination can be prestigious enough for people to recognize your brand and its credibility, even if you don’t win. It can open a door of limitless possibilities.
#8 Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a cost-efficient digital marketing strategy. It works by helping your brand increase its visibility online, bringing traffic to your website through online keyword search. Remember to utilize localization to increase your keyword’s relevance.
#9 Spice Up Your Press Releases
Writing a press release may be antiquated but it has always proven to be effective in informing the public of business’s vision and products. But many are boring. They rely on company statistics and mundane quotes without presenting their relevance to the media or the public. Journalists receive a multitude of press releases every single day. To ensure that yours is picked up, write boldly enough to blow their socks off.
#10 Send the Best Message
The perfect message is that which best describes a brand, even in just one sentence. Don’t forget, brevity is the key to communication. A short message will be easier to understand. A great message also considers your target audience because they are the ones your brand is after.
You won’t always have a great message; sometimes just the opposite. Bad press can happen to anyone. Apple, Smartmatic, Max’s Restaurant, Ashley-Madison and other brands have had their share of controversy and bad publicity. It’s not the end of the world. But as they say, prevention is cure, so here’s a list of lapses no business should commit.
#1 Inaccurate Press Release
Press releases are supposed to build your credibility but inaccurate information tears it down. Only send press release when something newsworthy occurred. Give them a story that would trigger emotions but make sure everything in it is true.
There are numerous instances where the client is nowhere to be found, frustrating busy media men who inevitably have better use for their time. Show professionalism and always make the time for journalists, since they are the crucial in the promotion of your brand to the public.
#3 Turning a Blind Eye to the Crisis
In the past, companies have tried their best to ignore bad publicity and just let them die down. But it doesn't always work. Sometimes, disregarding them will do more harm than good because it neglects your stakeholders’ concerns. Startup businesses are the most vulnerable in this type of situation. The only way to survive such a mess is to face the music and come up with ways to rebuild your integrity and credibility.
#4 No Sense of Direction
Public relations require a very well-thought-out strategy. Each step is a part of a process and won’t work effectively if you fail or skip one part. For example, it’s important to reveal a product in stages. Revealing too much before the product launches will cause the press buildup to collapse, instead of coming to a crescendo.
#5 Lack of Initiative
Some businesses always wait for journalists or editors to contact them. But most of the time, they are too busy to investigate another company. Learn to reach out. Your initiative will give them the impression that your pitch is worth reading. In addition, persistency is the key to actualizing a pitch but avoid being annoying. Prove to the media that you are deserving of the attention.
Weighing Your Options: In-house PR or PR agency?
If you’re convinced that you need help in your PR campaign, there are two directions available: creating your own PR or hiring a PR firm. Both have their pros and cons.
- Knows and understands your brand better than anyone else.
- Works solely for the company. Your PR team will only focus on your brand and your target market alone, minimizing the chances of conflicts of interest.
- All the connections that your in-house PR establishes is exclusive to your company which makes it easier to build a lasting relationship with your network.
- Having your own PR team is relatively cheaper and delivers immediate results.
- You have total control of all the materials and campaigns that will be released to the public as wells as the PR direction of your company.
- PR agencies already enjoy long-standing connections with the media which makes it easier for them to promote events, articles, and press releases.
- Because of their diverse experience, they are exposed to different industries and the latest PR trends, both locally and internationally.
- PR agencies can be great consultants. They are equipped with professionals who can see your brand in a different angle and give a genuine and unbiased opinion.
- Knows the different buyer personas which they utilize to help mold and spread your brand image, and build positive public opinion.
- Amply equipped with a team who can work collaboratively and has a widespread network among the media.
Whichever direction your business chooses will eventually rest on a variety of factors such as your budget, the kind of PR work your brand needs, and the amount of control you want of your publicity.
Delivering Your Brand Message Out Quickly
The competition between PR agencies in the Philippines is growing rapidly. As the ongoing ASEAN integration continues, more companies in and outside the country will need exceptional marketing and PR strategy. It’s crucial, especially for new businesses with few manpower or resources, to employ a PR agency to help them get their message out to new markets and people fast.
When choosing the right firm for you, consider your company’s objectives and the agency’s track record. Find a firm that has the talent and creativity to portray your story, the groundedness to rely on quantifiable metrics for accurate analysis, and the dedication to pursue your company’s goals with all their enthusiasm.
Many rising and established businesses have turned for help to M2.0 Communications, a boutique PR agency in the Philippines that utilizes an integrated approach which goes beyond typical PR by telling meaningful stories. They don’t create cookie-cutter plans that can be derailed at any moment but employ adaptable, reiterative strategies that will work in the here and now, and if not can be nimbly improved to something better at a moment’s notice.
Some of the services they offer are:
- Utilizing digital and social media to increase client’s online visibility.
- Engaging the brand’s community online.
- Providing damage control when crisis hits.
- Offering reputation management.
- Connecting the clients and the public through events and advocacies.
- Brand and message building workshops.
M2Comms has worked with numerous industries and collaborated with different local and international brands including:
- Disney Channel
Many entrepreneurs credit intelligence, enthusiasm, willpower, and a little bit luck for their success. But they also recognize the power of spinning a good story and the significance of winning the public to your side.