Although you naturally hope that people will assess your company based on its excellent products and services, at first they’re more likely to focus on your appearance alone. It can take only a few seconds to create a first impression that’s less than sterling, and once that’s in place, it’s hard to dislodge it.
If you crave better public relations, your appearance is vital. Most small-to-medium-sized firms will make a couple of appearances on camera, whether it’s an introductory news story with a brief interview on the 10 o’clock news or a short feature in the newspaper.
Designing your public image beforehand will mean you’re prepared for these appearances when they happen.
1. Dress for success
The way you dress for any press event depends on the particular audience. According to Megan Kristel, owner of Kristel Closets, business people are the pickiest.
“Investors and buyers want to know their money is going to good use, so play the part of the conservative business person,” Kristel told Entrepreneur. She recommends tailored suits, simple neutral colors, and well-placed accessories.
But not every audience will be impressed by a suit and tie. If you’re addressing a group of farmers, for example, you’ll probably appear much more appealing and approachable if you dress in a simple button-down and a pair of nice jeans or khakis.
Make sure your ensemble is color coordinated, in any case. One challenge that some people face when matching their clothing ensemble is colorblindness.
This occurs in 8 percent of men, but only 0.5 percent of women. You might not even realize you’re colorblind until you start to pay attention to your clothing and someone else draws your attention to your less-than-perfect choices.
This, along with other challenges to professional dress, can be worked with. You just have to learn the tricks to match clothing, and try to get a second opinion before press events to make sure your outfit will be a success.
2. Focus on public speaking
Looking good is vital for making an authoritative impression, but if you open your mouth and nonsense comes of out, all the hard work you put into selecting the perfect clothing ensemble will go out the window.
Not everyone is primed for public speaking, so even if you know your stuff, you might still come off as unprofessional and unintelligent if you’re not suitably prepared. Take your time to work up your speech, learn from professional speakers in your industry, and present the points that are most essential to your case.
You’ll also want to invest seriously in your audience. Think about what they want to hear and which problems you should try to address for them. Give your listeners a reason to keep paying attention by relating to them and speaking directly to them instead of at them.
3. Accentuate the positive
You want your business successes to be recognized, which can be difficult if you talk only about the bad points. If you’re facing some kind of business crisis or a game-changing shift in your business, it can be a challenge to avoid the negatives, but try to focus solely on whatever’s positive about your experiences and current dilemmas.
Instead of talking about how a certain change might have a negative impact on the environment, concentrate on the positive aspects. You might briefly address the big picture and explain why an update is a positive thing for your chosen audience. Positivity can make or break your professional image.
4. Be an expert
Establishing yourself as an authority is arguably one of the most difficult steps in public relations because it requires time to achieve. It’s an essential part of establishing credibility and trust with your audience, however.
People will be able to tell fairly quickly if you don’t really know what you’re talking about. “When you’re talking to the media, you are the expert and a source of information,” Charles Gaudet of Predictable Profits shared with BusinessCollective.
“Reporters are not looking for a pitch fest. Offer helpful information, and in return, the reporter will cite you as the source. This strategy helps to position you as an expert and authority to the reader. Answer your customers’ question, ‘Why should I listen to you?’ ”
Collectively, the four tips above will make any press event a triumph for your operation. You’ll learn from your victories and failures each time you’re in front of the camera, but before you know it, you’ll be a master at public relations.