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If you want to be the brand that everyone is talking about, you need solid public relations, or PR. PR is essentially the communication of your brand’s message to the public. It gets people talking about your brand and products. It’s peer-to-peer word of mouth marketing.
PR is an effective form of marketing because consumers purchase products that other people are talking about. I’m sure you’ve seen this before – someone sees a product getting a lot of media attention and tells everyone they were using it before it became popular. Good PR builds that kind of hype.
People get their information from the media, which includes everything from morning television shows and magazines to daily newspapers, blogs or your favorite podcast. That news is then boosted constantly on social media into Tik Tok videos, Instagram reels, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and YouTube shows.
Since everyone typically gets their information from various sources, there is a lot of clutter out there, so not only does your message need to stand out, it needs to stand out in many places. How many times have you heard something before but can’t remember where you heard it? Was it The New York Times? Buzzfeed? Perhaps your neighbor? You’ve likely heard it 7 to 11 times before you even realized it. Research shows that it takes many times for people to absorb and remember new information. If you are relying on advertising to reach them, you need to be repetitive, and that can get expensive.
With PR, you can reach these various media outlets with minimal expense. Every brand has many unique angles. You just have to know how to find these angles and get them in front of the right journalists.
On top of this, when you communicate your story, it needs to resonate, be easy to remember, and easy to repeat. It also needs to be relevant, timely and creative to get a news reporter to care about it or cover it.
This is where the experts come in. The right PR agency should be able to find all of the right angles worth reporting on, and have a network of journalists across various beats who can weave your brand story and products into their content.
The basics of PR
PR firms specialize in getting people to see and hear you. Trained publicists (the term for PR pros) know how to mold and manage your message and tell your story in an entertaining and engaging way that sticks. A skilled publicist can get a busy, disinterested, skeptical and jaded expert to stop, listen and learn.
Finding the right PR firm for you can be a challenge, however. PR requires a mix of chemistry, case studies, contacts, know-how, elbow grease and timing. When it works, the results can catapult your brand to new levels of success. Retailers will track you down, sales of your products will spike, and it can also spark investor and even celebrity interest (which can lead to even more opportunities and growth). It might seem like magic, but behind the scenes there is a lot of strategy, ideation, connections and years of experience happening.
When evaluating a PR firm, look for the following:
- A track record in your category: Do they know your category, are they ahead of the curve on trends, and are they respected by the media as well as other influencers they need to convince?
- Passion for what you do: These people are on the front lines advocating for you on a daily basis, they need to be convinced in order to convince.
- The uncanny ability to sound more like you than you do: Your PR team should understand your brand on the deepest level in order to spin your story without losing its integrity.
More affordable than ads
The good news is PR is more affordable than you think; it’s the most cost-effective form of marketing available because you are not paying anyone to say anything about you, they are saying it because they want to.
One year of PR services costs less than one ad in a major news outlet. And that story is more believable than any ad, because it’s earned media (which means that an editor, content creator or podcaster thought it was newsworthy enough to cover). A media endorsement cannot be bought; it has to be earned and will serve the brand for life.
PR is not just about articles
A PR firm does more than just get articles written about your brand or mentions in stories. It also brings you valuable connections, puts your brand in front of social media influencers, and secures interviews on TV segments. It also does a lot to help you sell your products in several ways, what I refer to as the 3 S’s of PR that sells:
- Strategy: Your PR firm shouldn’t just be taking orders, they should be giving you direction on strategy.
- Sales Support: From your retail presentations to your pitch meetings, your PR firm should be rehearsing and preparing you to sell and supplying the marketing materials and ideas to do so.
- Seeking opportunities: From cross-promotions to brand collaborations, your PR firm should always be looking out for ways to expand your brand tentacles.
Your PR firm is creating your image and getting it out to the world. Hire a PR firm for its vision and how they can make others – and you – feel about your brand. Do not hire only based on price (you wouldn’t go to the cheapest plastic surgeon). You need a PR firm that you have the confidence will lead you through the jungle and usher you onto the next level and beyond.
PR creates a buzz and turns it into a roar. It’s never too early to get started on that journey. It begins with finding the right partner…