Although its practitioners might prefer you not recognize this fact, public relations is everywhere. PR is an industry and profession that controls (or hopes to control) almost everything people see, hear or feel about anything important, especially in business. Remember the Enron scandal? How about the British Petroleum crisis? Both of these companies had teams of PR professionals working to manage their crises. (I’d say Enron’s scandal was beyond being saved by a tactful PR campaign, though.)
PR isn’t valuable only to companies in crisis-mode. The purpose of public relations is to build mutually positive relationships between organizations and their key publics (in most cases, customers). In today’s increasingly competitive economy, new business owners and entrepreneurs are faced with the challenge of securing awareness and trust for their new ventures; these four PR tactics are must-have resources for any new startup:
Like it or not, social media is obviously here to stay. Depending on the type of business, Twitter may be more effective than Facebook, or perhaps LinkedIn is the place to start. My advice? Place your business in every feasible social media outlet (Forbes says so, too) — just make sure content is action-oriented and tied to measurable goals.
Let’s talk email. When I send out bi-weekly newsletters to email subscribers, my web traffic at least doubles. Newsletters are a great way to share basic, conversational information about upcoming events, new products and services, exciting new findings and special offers. Be careful not to spam your subscribers, though; no one likes junk mail — print or electronic.
According to Entrepreneur, a press release is an announcement issued to the news media and other targeted publications for the purpose of letting the public know of company developments. Participating in a charity event for the local community? Changing locations? Expanding service area? Hosting a special event? Strategically using press releases and sharing them with media outlets (services like PRWeb are good at managing the distribution process) can earn coverage in local newspapers, radio stations, and news channels. Since press releases ultimately serve as free content for news media, making sure each one is extraordinarily polished will boost its success rate.
Have I mentioned special events anywhere in the first three tactics? If not, I should have. Grand openings, charities, customer appreciations and other special events with activities for community members (appropriate for all ages) are wildly successful at gaining the most effective form of marketing: positive word-of-mouth. Make sure events target the startup’s target market to ensure positive word-of-mouth directly creates more cash for your business.
With all of the ways to gain free advertising, little reason exists for a startup to fail at gaining awareness from its key publics. What other ideas might be good ways to build awareness and trust with customers? Share your ideas with us in the comments.