It’s the start of a new year and now’s a good time to put together a public relations strategy at least for the first quarter of the year, especially if you haven’t started yet. Good PR, a cornerstone to your business's success, includes activities that will establish and continuously strengthen a favorable relationship with the public. Great PR can result in spikes in new customers and additional brand advocates.
Years of leading worldwide and regional PR campaigns taught me PR insights only gained through experience. Since this field involves working with intermediaries – print and broadcast media, trendsetters, industry experts, investors, employees and business partners, you won’t always have full control over the results or where things go. However, I have picked up key PR techniques along the way, which can help ensure the desired outcome. Here are some of the most valuable ones:
1. Pitch stories journalists would want to write about
Getting media coverage for your startup is possible even without strong ties with a reporter. Though I must admit that press connections help, what matters more is having a good story. A good story is timely, relevant and informative. One thing you have to keep in mind though is the fact that reporters have beats or are assigned to write about specific topics – such as technology, business, events, lifestyle or fashion. So when pitching to the press, make sure you take your story to the ones who are covering the topic. Otherwise, you can send an email pitch to hundreds of random reporters and not get a single positive response.
2. Monitor what people say about your business online
A single unsatisfactory experience for a customer can easily end up in the Internet and, in turn, influence people’s opinion about your business. But what people post about your business is never in your control, and you have better use for your time than to sweep through the Internet day in and day out just to get rid of all negative comments. What you can do instead is to find out which online platforms people use to post their comments and feedback about your business. Check it regularly in case you come across something that needs to be addressed, countered or brought to a certain department’s attention. You don’t have to bother with every single negative post about your business, but make sure these are on your radar and you take necessary action with posts that can negatively affect your business.
3. Counter negativity by producing your own content
Social media and blogs are your tools for generating positive online content about your business, and unlike people’s comments and feedback, this is something you can control. Use social media to connect with your customers and build good rapport. Post updates and case study articles on your blog to show people how dedicated you are in continuously striving to provide the best product or services and to showcase customers’ great experience with your business.
4. In the midst of a PR crisis, calm down
A PR crisis can get us riled up especially when we anticipate the issue to blow up. The best thing to do here is to first calm down – you can handle this. Find out what exactly is going on and prepare an official statement – at least an initial one and you don’t have to divulge all the details. Make sure people who are allowed to speak in behalf of your business are fully aware of this, otherwise they might misrepresent the company. Who represents the company in a PR crisis, for me, is determined on a case by case basis. Having the CEO speak on behlaf of the company can win back trust, but usually a spokesperson is assigned to face the media or the public within the first few hours of the dilemma. It’s commonly done this way because at this time, the CEO can still be too busy sorting through the concern and leading the crew to resolve it.
5. Great things are achieved through teamwork
Building positive PR is a company-wide responsibility but it’s crucial to have a core team assigned to take care of reaching out to the media, tracking people’s comments online, finding opportunities for good partnerships and producing good content. I always make sure to get people who are skilled and knowledgeable in these areas and I have even been working with a freelancer who has been a reliable member of my PR team. Build your PR team with the best talent out there either through full-time employment or by hiring freelancers on jobs marketplaces like Freelancer.com . I guarantee you, having a team of PR pros will bring your company forward this 2016.
Enjoy our weekly installment from Sebastián Siseles, the international director of Freelancer.com, the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace by total number of users and projects posted. View previous posts here .