Defining Public Relations
“Public relations” is a form of communication that is directed towards gaining public understanding and acceptance. The primary objective for a public relations program is to establish and maintain relationships and credibility with the people who create and/or communicate the news. The end result is ultimately media coverage that provides third party validation of your business which could directly and positively impact your bottom line. A simple news story on your product or service could open the door to new sales opportunities, business partnerships, or investor interest and that is why you should consider adding public relations to your start-up company marketing strategy.
If you haven’t already thought about implementing a public relations strategy into your integrated marketing plan, now is a great time to get started. It’s a cost-effective approach to marketing and companies that do it well typically see an immediate return even if minimal time and budget is invested. A solid public relations foundation relies on support in three specific areas to achieve success:
- Commitment to a proactive approach to obtaining positive exposure
- Relationship building to gain public understanding and acceptance
- Consistency of communication via messaging and positioning
Outlining the Strategy
The goal of your start-up public relations program should be to obtain maximum positive exposure for your company by creating awareness and understanding of the business both within and outside of the industry. To support this, you must develop and deliver clear, consistent, and concise communications to all audiences. Sub-goals that fall under the category of gaining exposure for the company are as follows:
- Leverage awareness and acceptance with targeted media, industry analysts, financial analysts, and end users
- Increase and maximize exposure through events, articles, white papers, success stories, sponsorships, award nominations, industry reports, etc.
- Disseminate knowledge of business model within and outside of your specific industry
- Promote company benefits that express differentiation from the competition
- Generate future editorial opportunities including industry expert interviews
- Build and maintain national media presence
- Produce partnership interest
The goal will be reached by implementing a steady stream of media relations activities targeted to editors, industry analysts, and financial analysts. The first step is to develop a proactive public relations plan utilizing new media (such as social media platforms) and traditional methods (editor and/or analyst interviews). It is also imperative to develop key relationships with the media that view your company as the industry experts and to become a good source for quotes, industry perspective, and validation of information. At the same time, consider implementing strategies and tactics designed to position your company as a thought leader (through speaking engagements or writing contributed articles).
Executing the Tactics
The tactics necessary to execute the public relations plan are the methods, actions, and activities used to achieve the objectives of the plan, which translate the directives of strategies into specific programs. Some suggested start-up public relations activities include:
- Issuing press releases
- Pursuing editorial/analyst opportunities
- Registering for speaking engagements
- Nominating business for industry awards
- Authoring contributed articles/byline articles
- Writing success stories/customer testimonials/client case studies
- Negotiating sponsorship opportunities
- Establishing industry and business partnerships
- Developing a user reference program
- Becoming active in community relations
Measuring the Results
The outcome of all the activity generated by a dedicated public relations program will result in an overall increase in awareness of your company, exposure to potential business partnerships, validation of leadership in industry, and visibility for the company. However, it is important to implement a quantitative measurement tracking system in order to measure activities and results to help determine value and return on the investment of a public relations campaign. Start by measuring the outputs of your program which measures message transmission (the amount of exposure in the media, the number of placements and audience impressions, and the likelihood of having reached specific target audiences). Examples of such include: editorial opportunities, placed articles, awards, inclusions in reports and lists, requests for interviews from the media, and speaking opportunities.
Determining the Success
After you have implemented a public relations program into your new business, you should begin to see impactful results. The media (including financial and industry analysts) should understand your business/service model, you will have generated positive media coverage, and your key executives will be considered thought leaders in the industry. Most importantly, you have added significant value to your integrated marketing plan by adding a public relations component to the marketing mix.
If you are seeking a strategic consultant to help formulate a start-up public relations plan for business, contact Launch Marketing to get started today. We can help your small business map out a public relations strategy, or for more comprehensive start-up public relations engagements, we can refer you to one of our partner experts.
Graphic Source: http://www.themauldingroup.com/corporate-identity/public-relations/