As we approach the end of the year, it’s a great time to reflect. To ask ourselves where we have come from and where we are going, so that we can use that clarity to reach further and achieve more.
On New Year’s Day, millions of people across the world will be thinking about what 2016 will mean to them. Yet the biggest and most challenging question we all must answer is also the simplest: what do we do and why do we do it?
As a PR agency, we find ourselves in a profession where 57% of UK parents aren’t entirely sure what a “PR manager” does. What PR agencies do, and indeed the whole point of the £7.5 billion PR industry, can sometimes be left quite vague – or worse, explained using frustrating and incoherent buzzwords.
But PR does matter and it does make a valuable and positive difference, as our clients will attest. Here are five ways in which PR can help you:
1. Build awareness, credibility, and attract new business
This is the bread and butter of PR – establishing your company as authoritative, credible and familiar.
We do this primarily through securing media coverage for our clients, which can range from a quick comment in a trade magazine to an in-depth feature in a national newspaper. The goal is to ensure that positive third-party perspectives of your company are seen by your target audience. As consumers and potential clients increasingly rely on reviews and name recognition when deciding what to buy or who to hire, this can be the difference between a lost opportunity and a valuable sale.
A PR agency will analyse how your competitors are doing media-wise, identify coverage opportunities and offer a strategy so that your business competes in this space.
2. Create valuable content
Ever since Bill Gates declared “content is king” back in 1996, “content” for marketers has been the buzzword of a generation. The power of content, and of a regular content calendar, to help businesses stay relevant and keep ahead of the competition is increasingly being valued and recognised by the wider business community. Given content is of the moment, it’s easy to forget that PR professionals have been content experts for decades. After all, using the right words to convey the right idea to the right people is a fundamental part of what they do. Their expertise can help your company produce the best and most relevant content for your industry.
Ultimately, creating good content relies on a mixture of instinct and planning. It means telling a consistent story that is tailored to every platform, channel, and output, whether earned, paid or owned. Your message needs to reach people and matter to people, whether you encounter it through social media, a guest feature in a magazine, an email newsletter, a blog, an app, or a news story. PR agencies can help from Word doc to the weeks after publication, making the most of opportunities at each stage.
3. Develop your social media presence
Social media is a strange and wild beast. Each platform has its own rules and conventions, different tactics for building up followings, and often fundamentally different audiences.
Social media can also be somewhat unpredictable. Your cleverly crafted hashtag campaign may not get the reaction you were expecting, as the Victorian Taxi Association found out to its detriment with its #YourTaxis campaign.
Yet for most companies, social media is unavoidable. If people are talking about you or your competitors on Twitter or on LinkedIn, having a presence there is critical. What PR agencies can do is provide support on this front, helping you to develop a strategy for meeting your goals, prepare content, and keep track of what people are saying.
4. Recruit new talent and keep your staff happy
Recruitment isn’t the first thing people think of when considering the benefits of PR. But third-party reviews, awareness of the company, and authority within the industry are important factors in getting the most talented people to get in touch. The days of posting a job ad in the newspaper and hoping for the best have long passed. Nowadays, getting potential employees to come to you can be a more fruitful way of sourcing the best candidates. Media coverage within industry publications can not only get you new clients, it can get you new employees.
PR can also play a role in keeping your existing employees happy and well-informed. Getting information on employee concerns, reassuring them about changes that your company may be undergoing, and motivating everyone to achieve their best - all of this relies on the effective communications strategies that PR agencies are so good at.
5. Get support during mergers and acquisitions (M&A)
One of the biggest challenges that a company can go through is a merger or an acquisition. It’s easy to imagine why - emotions can run high, structures that have existed for decades can be completely transformed or dismantled, and rumours can spiral out of control very quickly. Making sure that all relevant stakeholders hear accurate information is essential for a smooth transition.
An external PR agency, separate from the M&A process, can offer the guidance and expertise to communicate this process effectively. And if a crisis emerges, it is very useful to have experienced people on hand who can react quickly and effectively.
The opportunities that PR provides are potentially life changing. By getting news coverage, thought leadership pieces, positive social media sentiment, new staff, and new sales, PR can be a valuable and inexpensive way of getting ahead of your competitors. What PR agencies do is provide expertise and experience to help their clients be successful. Here at Velvet, we take that and go that extra mile, providing more than PR.
Ultimately, that is what PR is and that is why we do it.