Three Things You Need To Know Before You Develop Your PR
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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 startup’s have particularly tight budgets, limited resources, and sensitive cash flows, making it a challenge to develop and successfully implement an effective public relations (PR) and marketing strategy, but if you don’t invest time and effort in this area, 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 owner or entrepreneur? Here are three pointers to keep in mind:
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 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 maximize 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 shopfront 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 as 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 generalizations? Have you actually reached out and spoke 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 horse’s mouth. 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. There’s no single cookie-cutter approach that can be applied to every startup; however, 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 a 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, Footstep Communications is running a bespoke workshop on PR and Marketing for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners in Dubai on Tuesday 25th June from 9am-12pm. If you’d like to know more, you can email Samantha Dancy: firstname.lastname@example.org or see further details here.