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How public relations helps in building a brand

26 February 2018 | Pic PR

So, you’ve got your product, your branding, your website, your insurance and every other myriad requirement for a business set up and in place. But while the key boxes may be ticked and you’re ready and raring to go, who actually knows about it? Having everything prepped is great…but how do you go about reaching your customer base and generating sales or take up of your service?

Of course, many start-ups and fledgling brands have limited budgets – after all, unless you’re lucky enough to have considerable investment behind you, you’ve not sold much product in which to build a budget so it makes shouting about what you’re doing and your offering a tricky prospect.

Many aspects of marketing are expensive – particularly advertising, with TV and national newspaper coverage potentially running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Social media is a cheaper option. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are free to set up after all. But these platforms are ever evolving and this evolution isn’t always in businesses’ favour. With social media, the emphasis is often on the social element (hence the name) – so puts the social user first, rather than the corporate. Businesses can often struggle to be noticed unless they play the game and pay for sponsored posts, or have an offering that engenders a genuine fan base.

Facebook for example, has recently announced plans to go back to its old social roots, meaning that unless businesses pay to appear on their target audience’s newsfeeds, their posts will be in the social media hinterlands, effectively hidden from view. Soon, it’s a fair assumption to suggest that all posts will need to be paid for to be seen, making getting noticed even harder with a limited budget.

Social media is an essential part of the marketing tapestry, but there are other pieces you can utilise in the early stages of a start-up business.

So what are they?

Well, unsurprisingly given our agency’s emphasis on PR, we’d say this is the perfect time to employ public relations to introduce your offering to a wider audience.

But before you dismiss this as the start of some snake oil salesmen pitch, hear us out.

A major benefit of using a PR agency – and one that’s often overlooked – is that you’re getting multiple brains for the equivalent cost of an individual one. For a fledgling business, you’re effectively bringing in an array of different ideas and thought processes which you can take advantage of, giving you the resources of a larger setup.

PR is an ideas business. As experts in the field, we look at your offering and see what we can do to make it palatable to the press (either national, regional or trade) and therefore your target audience, be that consumers or other businesses. 

In a previous insight article we talked about which is better: public relations or advertising? This article touches on our work with Home Leisure Direct and its Games Room of the Year competition. An idea created by us and publicised by us which generates huge amounts of national interest, having since become an annual fixture.

One of the key benefits of public relations when compared against advertising (and probably its major selling point) is that one PR idea can result in lots of coverage, but one advert is just that – one advert.

A well-executed PR campaign can be even more important for an emergent business, helping to both put their brand name on the proverbial map, while also raising the profile of their offering. With the right PR approach, there is a huge amount of potential.

If you’re a new business, the potential of PR can be even more exciting if you look at your offering. Is it novel or ground breaking? What’s your USP? If it’s something genuinely innovative, then PR is definitely the way to go. The key to any successful PR campaign is offering something of genuine interest to the press. Sometimes a stunt or targeted campaign can manufacture something newsworthy that highlights your product/service, but if your offering is going to get attention without that then you’re already onto a winner.

But even if it isn’t immediately obvious that there’s scope for PR, it can still work if handled and managed by those that know what they’re doing.

You may have heard of the quote, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR.” This has been attributed to various people but primarily Bill Gates. However, with no definite source, it’s almost certainly made up – probably by a PR person. On our website homepage, we have that oft quoted line from Abraham Lincoln: “The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to know if they’re genuine.” And this quote probably falls within that category.

But while a PR person has probably made this up, and indeed we wouldn’t actually suggest spending your last dollar on PR (spending it on food/water would be our suggestion), it’s certainly worth investment. Don’t just expect PR to work by throwing money at it though. It needs careful planning and management.

Done right, it can deliver impressive results, not only by building a solid reputation for your business, but by generating solid sales too – the ultimate aim of any PR/marketing campaign.