There is a common misconception that public relations, or PR, is only for large corporations and globally recognized brands with sizable marketing budgets. Nothing could be further from the truth. PR is an important tool that benefits businesses of any size in any industry. In fact, PR is an essential tool for helping all companies grow their brand and thrive in today’s hyper competitive, fast-paced business environment.
Why should SMBs consider implementing a strategic PR program? The answer is simple. Effective PR campaigns can help grow their brand and customer base. The right PR partner can put companies in front of the right audiences at the right time, driving new opportunities for brand exposure that translate into sales opportunities.
What is PR?
At its core, PR is a strategic communication discipline that works across a variety of platforms to help organizations establish and maintain positive and trusting relationships with key stakeholders. It focuses on storytelling to build these relationships and shape public perception of an organization to help grow their brands.
There are a variety of strategic ways PR can support SMB business goals and drive organic growth. Some of these key strategies include building brand awareness, establishing credibility and trust, attracting and engaging target audiences, keeping companies relevant and driving lead generation and customer acquisition.
Building brand awareness
It is true that lack of awareness is a non-starter for company sales. PR can jump start company sales by creating awareness. Brand awareness PR strategies focus on introducing a brand to target audiences, creating a drumbeat of visibility aimed at making companies more memorable. In a nutshell, PR captures the attention of target audiences and influences purchasing decisions, generating the brand awareness needed to support the sales funnel.
In the process of building brand awareness, PR also works to shape overall brand perception by creating a compelling narrative around the benefits and key differentiators of the brand’s products or services. This starts by developing key messaging that defines who a company is, what they do and how they are different from their competitors. This messaging is aimed at reinforcing a strong brand image that helps drive lead generation and conversions.
Establishing credibility and trust
Customers who don’t trust a company won’t do business with that company.
On the flip side, when people view a company as trustworthy and credible, they are more likely to buy from that company and recommend it to others. PR works to deliver compelling, authentic and transparent narratives that appear in earned media coverage, bylined thought leadership articles, op-eds and other credible vehicles. Surfacing strong third-party validation, this strategy helps build the legitimacy of a brand. This, in turn, fosters brand trust which drives new business, increases loyalty and makes customers brand advocates.
For companies today, establishing credibility and brand trust with PR can be the difference between surviving or thriving in a competitive business landscape.
Attracting and engaging target audiences
Customers want to do business with companies they feel connected to.
Effective PR campaigns help people feel more connected to brands through the power of emotive storytelling. Attracting customers and keeping them engaged requires the development of stories that resonate. Framing a story and working to place that story where it best reaches key audiences, is a PR approach designed to help companies attract and engage target audiences in a way that results in new customers and increased sales.
Keeping companies relevant
After building awareness, establishing credibility and trust and attracting and engaging customers, the work of PR is not finished. Successful PR campaigns are those designed to keep companies omni-present with target audiences. These campaigns build on the pillars of awareness, trust and engagement to continue to show a company’s value. Campaigns that include media relations, thought leadership, social media and influencers are most effective at ensuring a company remains relevant and top of mind among key audiences.
Driving lead generation and customer acquisition
All of these PR strategies outlined above work in concert to build strong customer relationships that generate leads and increase sales for an organization. They help customers find a company, form an opinion about a company, gain trust in that company, and want to engage with that company.
The result – new business opportunities and more conversions.
Seeing the impact
PR is a powerful way to influence perceptions, attitudes and behaviors. It creates more opportunities to connect and engage with target audiences in a manner that positively impacts the consumer buying journey from awareness to consideration to decision to retention to advocacy. Effective PR strategies that work to build brand awareness, establish trust and credibility, and increase consumer engagement deliver the sales growth required for companies to remain relevant and successful in today’s competitive marketplace.
It’s worth remembering that public relations is not just for large companies, SMBs can harness the impactful potential of PR to generate leads, increase conversions and catalyze business growth.
Catriona Harris is the co-founder and CEO of Uproar PR, a forward-thinking, award-winning public relations agency that delivers top-tier results to drive sales and raise awareness for its clients globally. With service offerings in media relations, social media, thought leadership and influencer marketing, Uproar PR continually places its clients at the forefront of national and industry trends. With 60 full-time employees across 14 states, the PR agency works with a broad spectrum of technology, lifestyle, consumer and professional services clients.