Public Relations is hard to put a label on for many. People think they know what it is, but it is often mixed up with marketing and advertising. Our director, Ellen Gunning, gave a fascinating webinar on PR and Branding for SME’s where she explained public relations as being ‘the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.’ So, what does that mean?
Communication needs to be deliberate. You make plans to talk to friends and family, whether it be every day, week, month or year. Maybe you send a family friend a Christmas card, but you rarely speak throughout the year. This communication is planned and thought out. Your business’ communication should be the same. Do you want to post on social media everyday or just send out a monthly ezine?
Sustaining the communicating is undeniably important. There is no point communicating for a period, cutting off the communication and then trying to return to it. Customers will see through this. Take Covid-19 for example. If a company sent out hundreds of supportive messages saying how much they care in March, stopped communicating as Covid-19 died down, and picked up the supportive messaging throughout the second lockdown a customer would notice. This is not sustaining communicating. Publics will see right through it. The communication must be two ways, speaking and listening. Open conversation with potential customers, ask them what they would like to see. This will not go unnoticed and it will be remembered.
Let them know exactly what you are about.
As a SME, the best thing to do is portray an accurate picture. You may not be the biggest company, but that does not matter, nor does it make your product or service any less valuable. Many small companies will use clever wording online to make the company seem bigger. This is often more noticeable than one thinks and could easily sway a customer to another company. Truly letting the publics know who you are and why you do what you do is often the best way to communicate. Tell them who you are, what you look like and what your story is.
Did you begin this business to save the world? Or maybe it was to make lots of money. You may not have been able to find a certain product or service, so you created it yourself. Let everyone know why you are here and how hard you work. PR is not advertising. You are not evaluating how well you have done through sales. PR tells the story of who the company is and what they stand for. Show off your companies’ personality.
It is important to select exactly what you are putting out to your publics. Understand who they are, what they do on a daily basis and the best place to catch them. It may be on the daily commute, on social media or maybe in the local newspaper. Understanding your publics is incredibly important. Nothing is relevant to everyone, so you really want to pin it down, understand their lifestyle and talk to them in their language.
Letting people know who you are and what you stand for is the best way to open communications and create a successful business.
Watch Ellen’s full webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvg6at5gvvI&t=2363s