Public relations is both an art and a science. It’s the practice of creating awareness by marketing a business, product or person. Marketing efforts can include print media, television commercials, online advertisements, social media platforms and special events. It typically involves direct interaction with people in some form or fashion (even if only through the internet).
It also involves really getting to know your potential customer base. Your messaging will vary greatly depending on who you’re trying to reach. If you’re thinking about launching a new line or want to boost your overall business, you’ll probably consider starting a PR campaign. There are many professionals that could do this for you, but there are many benefits to bringing these efforts in-house and leading it yourself. After all, you know your business and/or brand better than anyone else. Plus, professional firms can get incredibly costly and you may need to use extra cash flow on your actual product.
If you want to start creating your own PR team, keep in mind that it won’t happen overnight. It’s a process so it’s going to take a while, and it’s okay to start slow. But whenever you decide to start, here are some key components to making sure you do it right:
Find the right people, and the right mix
The most important component to building a great public relations team is to hire the right people. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should run out and get the most expensive and reputable people available. It means that you need to find the right people for your specific company. If you’re a local business, make sure you find people that know the community and its residents. You probably don’t want to hire someone who just moved to town.
You also need to find the right mix of people to create a well-rounded team. You don’t necessarily want a group comprised solely of publicists. You probably want a subject matter expert or two, a couple of really skilled writers and a graphic designer. Ideally you want a balanced mix of industry knowledge, familiarity with your consumer base and marketing professionals.
Engage with your employees
It’s hard to manage a good public relations campaign if you don’t have meaningful employee engagement. No one knows a company better than its own employees, and it’s important to get their perspective on a major publicity overhaul. Also, chances are they’ve heard a lot of opinions about their employer from their family and friends, so they’ll be able to pass that along.
It’s also important to remember that how companies treat their employees is important to a lot of people. So take the time to make sure your employees feel involved in your efforts and the company’s success. That information will more than likely get passed along to your future customers.
Develop a personality for your business
Whether it’s an international business or a small brick and mortar neighborhood store, it should have a personality. Is it modern and professional? Or maybe it’s comfortable and homey? Or perhaps it’s even edgy and a little rebellious. Have a brainstorming session, post a company-wide survey and find out what kind of persona you want to develop—and also, have fun with it. People want to know about the businesses they’re buying things from—so let them have fun with it too.
Pay attention to feedback
It’s hard for anyone to hear negative feedback. It’s especially hard if your entire job entails making something look good and you hear that you weren’t successful. However, it’s important to listen to any and all feedback from potential customers and clients when you’re trying to increase visibility for a business. Even if it seems like a single, unique complaint you may glean some valuable information from it. You also want people to know that you value their opinions—that alone can be an important component of a public relations campaign.