Simply put, public relations is all about your reputation. It is the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. The objective of your public relations efforts is to earn the understanding, support and appreciation of your current and potential customers.
The strategies used in developing a public relations plan involve a variety of tactics. These include such things as following through on sales to make sure your customers are happy, creating goodwill towards your company by becoming involved in community events, or networking through business organizations.
These are just three of the many opportunities that are available to generate publicity for your company. In addition, with the explosion taking place in this information age you can create a website, become more active on social media using such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to name just a few. Not to forget of course traditional media such as broadcast and print.
Many companies, even large ones, do not think about public relations until they are faced with a crisis situation. At this point, they are forced into bringing in the “spin doctors” to help them turn a disaster into something positive. A huge undertaking that is often very costly and in many cases not always successful.
The caution here is to not wait for lightning to strike, but make PR part of your overall marketing and communications strategy. As such, you should have a plan in place on how you are going to manage your public relations efforts. One thing you must clearly understand though is that publicity is not advertising. Publicity is all about creating interest in your good name over the long term.
Like any other business strategy, it is important to write down your goals and determine how you will achieve them through a series of objectives. When developing a PR plan, keep in mind these seven basic steps:
1) Clearly define your overall goal.
2) Determine your objectives, and make sure they are specific, measurable and results-oriented.
3) Identify who you want to reach or influence.
4) Develop a timeline for your strategies.
5) Align your PR plan with marketing and sales efforts to create greater awareness.
6) Decide on what communications tools you will use to get your message out.
7) Measure the results in order to find out if your objectives were met.
There is a lot more to public relations than smiling politely and shaking hands. It’s all about building awareness, creating interest, stimulating demand, reinforcing your brand and ensuring your name is recognized as a company worth doing business with.
Public relations also does not happen with one campaign, but through an ongoing series of activities, whose key message over time remains consistent and focused on creating a positive response whenever your name is mentioned.
Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org