Top 10 PR Techniques to Make Your Product Famous
In this article, we will look at 1) the importance of public relations for any product or business and 2) top PR techniques to make your product famous.
IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR ANY PRODUCT OR BUSINESS
Organizations, businesses, and individuals are increasingly feeling the importance of strong public relations to grow their brand, their business or further their cause. Almost all large organizations have a dedicated unit for PR in-house, or big and small firms outsource these activities to a PR firm or a consultant. This is now a key area of marketing communications and is vital to maintaining a company’s image in the eyes of its stakeholders. A positive narrative about the firm can lead to better sales, more loyal following, and fans as well as an improvement to the overall bottom line.
There are several techniques and tools that a public relations professional will employ in order to cultivate positive relationships with its key audience. Through the use of these techniques and tools, the aim is to:
- Manage issues and crises as they arise and often proactively;
- Act as a company spokesperson;
- Build mutually beneficial relationships with members of new and traditional media;
- Keep a strong social media presence;
- Closely monitor media channels for public comments about the company to predict issues or trends;
- Build goodwill through outreach, community, and philanthropic activities;
- Ensure that the right information is put out to the right audience at the right time to drive the conversation.
These goals can be achieved through a systematic and sustained effort by the public relations professional in conjunction with the senior management of the firm. The top ten PR techniques to do so are discussed in the next section in some detail.
TOP 10 PR TECHNIQUES TO MAKE YOUR PRODUCT FAMOUS
1. Clearly Identify Your Audience
Usually, a wider marketing strategy will have customer segments, and key stakeholders mapped out for a company. Information about this audience needs to be put into a database and will include information such as demographics (age, gender, geographic location etc) as well as other relevant information including preferred activities, where time is spent online, keyword research and purchasing power. It is vital to identify this audience because it costs time and money to reach the audience and if it is the right one, there will be returns on the investment. A simple 5 step plan to identify a target audience is mentioned below.
Step #1: Refer to Your Business Plan
This is a good starting point to study the broad goals of your company and assess the products/services on offer. What need do they fulfill? How are you better than competitors? Why would a customer value these differences and who is this audience? The next bit of information to figure out is how to reach this audience. The key is to not consider who you would like to sell to but to assess who will value the product.
Step #2: Begin Research
Use existing sources initially to gather initial information about the industry, the competition and identified target customers. If information is not available, then there may be a need to conduct some primary market research.
Step #3: Develop a Customer Profile
With the right information, a generic customer profile or profiles can be constructed. This description of the customer may include information such demographics and psychographics. The latter includes information regarding the consumer’s psychology, interests, hobbies, values, attitude, lifestyle and more. This information together helps identify who will buy a product and why they will do so.
Step #4: Find this Audience
Once identified, it is now time to find the audience. This means assessing which websites they visit, preferences for social media, email, apps, as well as traditional media preferences, will help get the message to them.
Step #5: Monitor and Evolve
There needs to be a constant effort to stay on top of the current market and industry trends and evolve with any changes.
2. Clearly Define Your Goals
There can be many different goals of any PR effort. Even within a single company, there may be a variety of expectations from public relations. Generating buzz or interest, an increase in brand recognition and awareness, dissemination of information, placing news and interviews, mitigating crises, influencing the direction of the industry are all activities that PR would perform. While setting goals, a few key questions should be kept in mind.
What will be accomplished?
The first question to ask regards the expected outcome of a publicity initiative. There is a need to be specific and to group similar goals together. All goals will need measurable objectives against them.
How will the results be measured?
Often, the impact of a PR initiative may not be measurable through hard metrics. To counter this, it is necessary to decide on the right metrics before an activity is undertaken. When goals and objectives are set clearly and broken into key components, the measurability increases.
What will the timelines be?
Most often, PR goals will need to coincide with other business goals to ensure maximum impact and a unified message. Timelines will help capture deliverables and increase chances of maximum impact initiatives.
What is my budget?
Along with time, budgets also have great impact on the kind of goals and timelines that will be set. The scale and reach of initiatives will depend on the type of budget that can be allocated.
3. Build a Compelling Brand Story
According to Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and the co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, “Content Rules” (Wiley, 2012), storytelling in a business context is not about a fairy tale, but more how the product/service exists in the world. The story should be who you are and what you do for others. The brand story should help people connect with you and the brand and to see the business as a live entity with real people behind it. A few elements of a captivating story will include:
- It’s True – The story should not be made up, and marketing content should be based on real people, situations, and genuine emotions.
- It’s Human – For any company, even B2B ones, it is important to capture how products affect real people.
- It’s Original – The story should not be the same as many other companies but instead focus on what makes you unique or interesting and why are you important.
- It Serves the Customer – The story should be well produced and interesting in order to captivate the audience and allow them to connect with it.
4. Work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A majority of information does the rounds on the internet these days. This is what makes the ability to optimize for search engines such a key factor in successful PR activities. With an understanding of the audience and PR goals, key search words can be identified that can then be used to optimize articles, news stories, blog posts and even social media posts. SEO basically means finding ways to highlight a website in internet search results and diverting more traffic to the site. A few important aspects of SEO are:
Monitor Constantly: SEO effectiveness will only measurable by monitoring search standings. This can be done through page rank tools such as Alexa and the Google Toolbar.
Appropriate Use of Keywords: The right keywords need to be a part of content titles, the content itself, URLs and in image descriptions. A thorough analysis will help identify obvious and less obvious possible keywords. The danger here is keyword stuffing that can lead to a site being labeled as a spammer.
Link Back to Yourself: One important SEO strategy is to create internal links within a website. This helps direct traffic to individual pages. An appropriate amount of links back to archived material through anchor text that is also search engine friendly will help boost traffic.
Image Descriptions: Search engines can only through text itself. This excludes any text within an image thereby creating a need for text-based image descriptions.
5. Associate With Big Issues or Trends
Another good way to create a successful public relations campaign is to link it with relevant world events or global issues. This is great way to engage audiences, extend reach and help a news item or an article go viral. A few websites can help track and identify important world trends.
- Google trends – http://www.google.com/trends
- YouTube trends – http://www.youtube.com/trendsdashboard
- Twitter trends – http://trendsmap.com
Some tips to help identify important trends are:
- Focus beyond only the interesting trends to those that have a bearing on your business and your industry.
- Keep an eye on what is happening domestically as well as globally. Some trends may take time translating to the local market but may be important and useful if identified early.
- Keep an eye on industries that your partners and suppliers are a part of as these may affect your business as well.
- Trust your instincts about what is important and don’t over-analyze.
6. Leverage Social Media
Another important path to successful public relations efforts is to create and maintain a vibrant social media presence. Customers appreciating your product on these forums serves as free endorsements that are genuine and credible. Below are a couple of important points to keep in mind when leveraging social media.
Find Your Market: Use search features within each social media platform to find conversations about your brand or industry. Using these, find your audience on each platform and you may find them favoring one platform over the others.
Keep it Manageable: To keep things manageable, it is a good idea to identify a few platforms with the most relevant audience and focus on them to ensure a sustainable and consistent effort.
Provide Visuals: To stand out in the massive crowd online and on social media, it is important to have captivating subject matter. Photos and videos are the best way to achieve this for whatever platform you choose
Be Conversational: People eventually tire of a brand that is in an impersonal broadcast mode. Instead, it is a good idea to engage others, mention them and respond to comments and queries.
Connect with Influencers: Building up a follower base from zero can take a lot of time. A good way to do this faster is to find non-competing influencers who can be partnered with to build up fans with a mere exchange of content. Others can be prominent bloggers and celebrities who may endorse your product.
Give Freebie: A good way to get something from others is to give freebie. This means sharing and liking content posted by others without an expectation for return favors. This will promote a culture of engagement and others will want to do the same for you.
7. Sponsor or Hold Special Events
Another good way to raise awareness through PR is to sponsor popular public events or even to hold events. Different events can be chosen for this such as charity events, sporting events, fashion or recreational ones. The company’s marketing content can be displayed at the venue, on giveaways and even invitation cards. Charity events especially build goodwill with the audience as the company is seen to care about its community. Some potential event ideas can be:
- Contact local charities and suggest working together for a cause or campaign.
- Contact local sporting teams to see if they are interested in sponsorship for the team itself or for a tournament.
- Depending on the nature of the product, a weekend family event could raise the products image with the participating families.
- Network with local business leaders, politicians and media representatives to find new avenues to explore.
8. Build Relationships with Blogger and Idea Makers
Influential bloggers already have a target audience in place and by forming long-term relationships with these bloggers, you can get direct access to thousands of their readers. Bloggers also have credibility among their followers and referrals from them can lead to purchase decisions. The idea is to treat bloggers with respect and make attempts to form lasting and long term relationships. Some tips for doing so are discussed below.
Research: Instead of going after hundreds of bloggers, identify the few key ones that will have the most impact on your chosen target market. Research these bloggers and get to know them before approaching them.
Take them Seriously: Always respect the hard work that has gone into forming a successful blog and thousands of loyal readers.
Introduce Yourself: Make yourself and your intentions known to the blogger and explain that your research has led you to believe that you could work well together.
Don’t Attach Strings: Offer the product for review but do not stress or force a positive one. If your product is up to par, it will stand well to the test and garner positive reviews on its own. These reviews will mean more and have more credibility than any forced ones.
Offer Gifts, Not Bribes: A gift offered in return for their time and effort is a positive thing, but items sent with the expectation of positive reviews in return are a bad idea.
Provide All the Relevant Information: As with traditional media and media packs, make sure the blogger has all the relevant information needed to evaluate properly the product.
Follow Through: Once the product has been reviewed, maintain a relationship by sending a thank you note or writing a testimonial. You could provide a link to their site as well.
9. Develop Winning Content & Broadcast it in the Right Place
In order to differentiate your campaign from the many others out there, it is vital to develop catchy, engaging and interesting content that has good recall. Content may be funny, serious, creative or eye-catching, but it has to be relevant. Some aspects to consider for a successful campaign are:
- What is the audience?
- What are the campaign goals?
- What is the key medium of communication?
- What will the framework of the campaign content be?
- How will the message be phrased?
Once the right content is created, it also needs to be broadcast in the right place. Trying to cover a large audience by replugging the same content on every social media outlet or traditional media channel is not the way to go. Instead, the message needs to be tailored to the audience for each specific type of channel selected with a unified and harmonious message.
10. Measure your Results
Throughout a campaign and on its conclusion, there needs to be adequate monitoring and evaluation to assess if the objectives of the campaign are being met. It is vital to divide the main goal into measurable objectives and decide the metrics that will be measured for success or failure before the campaign is initiated. Some ways to measure include:
- Press Clippings
- Media Impressions
- Content Analysis
- Website Traffic
- Customer Surveys
- Social Media Mentions