Mastering The Art of Perception: What PR people will never tell you
Recently, some colleagues and I were discussing our work and how to be better marketers (since we were all self-employed). I commented that as Public Relations Professionals, we are masters of perception. They liked the descriptive phrase I used and kind of chuckled, but truthfully, a large portion of the work we do really is all about creating and managing the public perception of a brand. How successful you are in business will almost wholly depend on people’s perceptions of your company, products, services, etc. For example, when two products are relatively equal, the product which is perceived to be better will have more market share. Good marketers and PR professionals know very well that there is nothing accidental about these perceptions. The tactics employed by public relations professionals are very strategic and are meant to keep the public perception of any company, product or brand in high regard.
If you would like to know some of those secrets, read on. Here are some ways PR pros help create the right image for the brands they represent.
Key Messaging: This is very important. Every campaign has to have key messages. The messages are based on what you want the public to know the most and are the foundation of all communications from your company. Those messages are used every time company representatives speak to the media about what they do, and will appear in every piece of written material including, but not limited to, news releases, brochures, advertisements and web content.
Marketing Events: Events are a great way to attract media and get them talking about your new product. The best way to get media to attend an event is to make sure the event is tied to something newsworthy. That is because, unless you are a high profile company, nobody is going to care about your new widget, or energy drink. The trick is to figure out a way to make the introduction of your product more interesting by tying it to a cause or some other event. Remember, there is never a guarantee the media will show up, but if they do, make sure they are treated well and are given plenty of support materials to facilitate a good news story. Those support materials should contain your key messages and other important information.
Media Tours: If you’ve got something cool to tell people, then a media tour could be arranged. Figure out what the news story is going to be and get yourself invited as a guest on television and radio shows aimed at your target market. Use your key messages and statistics, if possible, to positively influence the opinion of your business or product.
News Releases: These are another way to ensure the media receives the best information about your company, but make sure that what you are sending out is actually news worthy. Knowing your audience and the expertise of the publications you are sending the release to, is key. The releases must be relevant and targeted if you are to stand a chance at getting in the news. You should also know that news releases have a special format and can be distributed through a wire service or directly to a list of media contacts. Media outlets get thousands of these a day, so don’t be surprised if nobody pays attention. Following up with media contacts after you send your release and reaching out to them via Twitter is often helpful.
Social Media Tactics: There are millions of ways to use social media to influence the perception of your brand. Contests, fan pages, tweets, etc. are all good if they are designed to engage, educate and generate interest. Don’t just send out messages telling people what to buy. Your content needs to be inspiring, educational and engaging. Avoid distributing spam-like communications. Check out my website for free social media marketing tips.
Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives: This is one of the very best ways to create a positive public opinion about your business. Doing good things for the world we live in makes companies look caring and people centric rather than like heartless profit oriented machines. Support a great cause and create events around it so that both the media and the general public get excited about what you are doing. When people know that you value being able to make a contribution to the world, they will like you much more and will quickly forget the media frenzy caused by a sudden crisis in your company. Feel free to check out my LinkedIn post about keeping a clean public image for a few more ideas.
Public Relations is a lot of fun for me, but not necessarily for others. If you need a little help shaping the public opinion of your brand, l'd be happy to support you.
Renée Cormier is a public relations and communications professional based in Burlington, Ontario. Renée brings a wide range of experience and talent to her work. Her passion for business and her natural talent for business strategy and marketing communications makes her an important resource for her clients.
Renée's specialties include strategic planning, branding & positioning, content development, reputation management, media relations, social media marketing, executive presentations & speeches, copy writing, event management and media training. For more information, visit www.reneecormier.com .
Follow me on Twitter! @reneecormierpr
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