Public Relations & Advertising: A Perfect Marriage

Businesses that depend upon advertising should do everything possible to make sure they are spending their dollars wisely. But as we all know, this is easier said than done. How can we attract attention, develop a powerful message, and effectively persuade our audience? How can we lead them to believe that using our services or products is the logical decision? How can we make our message stand out in a world of constant commercial bombardment?

Enter Public Relations, an important yet often ignored tool of marketing. When it’s used in conjunction with paid advertising it can mean big bucks for companies of all sizes.

While effective public relations efforts have proven their effectiveness since the on-set of business, early efforts were not integrated into advertising efforts. In fact, it wasn’t until a campaign launched by American Express in the 1980’s when the corporate world started to take notice of the power of public relations. The credit card giant modified all of their advertising, communicating that each time a cardholder used their American Express card, they would donate a penny to the restoration of the Statue of Liberty.

The campaign results were much better than even American Express could imagine. Consumers couldn’t help but to feel good about a business that supports our country. And, since each purchase supported Lady Liberty, additional spending was certainly justified! As a direct result, card usage and membership had increased substantially. The cost of a facelift for America’s favorite lady: Priceless!

American Express was not the only one pleased with this creative use of advertising and public relations. Their successful campaign kick-started marketing experts all across the world who learned quickly that communicating involvement in a cause, the community, and/or the country will motivate action and generate profit. Businesses began using terms like “cause-related marketing,” becoming involved in community efforts and telling the world through advertising efforts.

Today, study after study continues to find that companies who utilize this combination marketing approach are extremely effective. I often quote findings offered by Cone Corporate Citizenship, indicating that 84% of Americans would be likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause if both price and quality are similar. If that’s not enough to get your marketing wheels spinning, read on…

In one of the most recent comprehensive marketing studies completed (Brand Benefits, 2003), it was found that we have a much more charitable public than even the experts anticipated! Studies concluded that over two-thirds of consumers (68%) actually want companies to become more involved in the community through supporting charities, organizations, and/or causes. And, most importantly, they confirmed that those companies who do this would see a significant increase in revenue. Customer perception, loyalty, and buying behavior are all positively impacted when companies tell their publics about their community and cause involvement.

It’s important to note, that when companies recognize the importance of PR & Advertising, everyone benefits. Take Whirlpool Appliances for example. Instead of promoting great sales or lifetime guarantees in their television commercials, the mega-manufacturer features their non-profit partner, Habitat for Humanity. The well-known charity brings local volunteers together with families in need, building them a new, affordable house.
According to Whirlpool, “every family needs a place to put down their roots and nurture a hopeful future.” Their commercials feature families and focus on the commitment that Whirlpool has to help these families achieve the American Dream. The company proudly donates a refrigerator and range to every Habitat Home. With marketing like this is it any surprise that Whirlpool is the #1 Home Appliance Maker in the United States? Everyone wins.

If you’re thinking that you couldn’t possibly donate on this level and that every penny in your business counts, you’re not alone. You can effectively blend public relations into your advertising and make a positive impression with your publics without breaking the bank.

One very effective way to increase your revenue is to show your support by generating awareness for a particular cause or event. For instance, use a portion of your advertising space to let the world know about the surprising number of children that suffer from developmental issues such as Autism. List the local provider that offers assistance and needs community support. By taking this action, you let your publics know that you are a company that cares. You help the local nonprofit provider, the children, and your bottom-line.

Many companies are already being wonderful corporate citizens, yet failing to toot their own horn in their advertising efforts. If your company or your employees are involved with local charities, let the world know through your advertising efforts. Don’t let your gifts of time go unrecognized. Showcase the organizations name and logo (assuming you have permission) and proudly state that you are a supporter of that organization.

As with any good marriage, commitment is the key to success. Over promotion of a one-time only philanthropic activity will not get you the results you need. When companies find a charity, cause, or nonprofit to work with…they must become committed to an effective long-term campaign that will benefit all involved. And, of course, make sure the organization you choose to partner with is one that makes sense given your business type as well as your personal views and values.

Many CEO’s fear taking their marketing down this successful path. While the research is clear and the arguments compelling, it is change that causes paralysis. If you are experiencing cold feet, remember the wonderful benefits that engaging in public relations activities offers for everyone involved. Secure your future, take the plunge, and tell the world!

Public Relations Takes Your Business to the Next Level

When you have a growing business, you have to make sure that others in the community know it as well. Public relations will help all of your hard work to be noticed by those in the community who make a difference – potential customers and inventors. It’s important that you have a strong PR team behind you to make sure that your brand is properly displayed.

Many people assume that public relations are all about writing a press release. A press release can be written for an array of things. This can include a new product or service that you have released, any awards that you have won and even a new location that you have opened. These can improve your SEO rankings and help more people to learn about your brand. They do play an important role in growing your business, but that’s not the only thing that your PR team is going to work with you on.

The only way to take your business to the next level is with the help of consumers. How many people in the community know about you? Brand awareness is critical and this is where public relations really comes in. you want to make sure that people know of you and you have the credibility to become a viable business choice in the marketplace. Someone who is looking out for your reputation all the time is a very important thing – especially in the world of social media and the internet.

You need a communications plan to make sure people know about you. Depending on your community and your business, there are more effective places to market and communicate than others. There may be a lot of community events, a community newsletter or even a forum where you can speak. All of these will be considered when you work with a PR team.

Public Relations is not something you can ignore. It goes beyond marketing because it’s about interacting with the community. You may need press releases written about the things that are going on within your business but you may require much more than that as well. Public Relations firms can take your business to the next level by customizing a communications plan for you. This includes all forms of media to make sure your messages are being heard by everyone in the community.

Are you increasing your awareness? Marketing may help you to get your name out there, but what else are you doing? You may be able to interact with the community more effectively and increase your reputation when you work with professionals who can provide you with some insight as to what the community is looking for.

The only way your business is ever going to get to the next level is by caring about what those around you think of you. No one is going to buy from you if they don’t trust you. Whether you’re a new brand or you’ve been around for years, public relations needs to be a consideration.

Use Public Relations in B2B Marketing-for-Leads Programs

The best PR (Public Relations) events are the ones which yield warm leads. PR includes a wide range of things, from communications to a champagne toast. Some public relations are directed at reaping warm prospects and can take on big importance in a marketing-for-leads program. Publications outreach is the most widely-used lead generating public relations method, and the goal is to receive a mention of your business, services, or staff members in spots published in a magazine – or have something written by one of your managers published.

This type of press placement can have an important influence on the amount and type of leads generated. However true that this coverage is inexpensive compared to paid ads, still editorial coverage takes committed time and effort in order to develop rapport with influential press people in your field. A complete press campaign is preferable to divided and disparate efforts to attain publication. A public relations campaign is best when utilizing the following:

– release with email and other advisory activity

– kit with background, biographies, photos of products, press release and reprinted article content

– relationships with editorial staff

– features ghost-written for or by management staff

– media coverage of management staff as expert industry insiders

– success testimonials from customers

Research and compile publications and read them. Remember the readership when making this list – is this your audience? If the answer is ‘no,’ the magazine may not be the right one to concentrate on. Think about the info that the magazine is publishing; does it hone in on industry product news? If so, your one sheet to introduce the new Chief Executive Officer may not really be appropriate.

Converse with editorial staff after reading the magazine and visiting the website. Next, decide who is the right person to speak with. Phone the editor to inquire about their guidelines and what they prefer to publish. Look for an editorial calendar which shows the articles and stories which are running each month – this is often located in the ad section at the back page or at the company website. Once checking out the calender, it’s time to determine just what story you will offer, and which months to enter expert-written articles for publication.

With persistence you can develop a rapport and begin to speak with editorial staff on the telephone or face-to-face. By mentioning relevant development to the publication’s editors, you may be supplying just the sort of info that staff remembers upon receiving an assignment. Do you have an idea to pitch? Call your editor. Tell them how your story is relevant to the editorial calendar, and offer to supply an outline and synopsis immediately upon request, remembering that editorial deadlines are most often separate from the ad deadlines. Often, it is preferable to have your article written by a pro ghost writer. These writers are familiar with working with magazine and are able to sculpt the article so that it doesn’t appear overtly promotional. By hiring a third-party writer who takes responsibility to complete the article on time, the time of your tech or management staff is freed, allowing them to work within their specialties.

Press Release

Be certain that your press releases actually announce news. An editor seeks info that the readership would like to know, often about products and services which solve business problems in an innovative or efficient new way. Address the topic from the reader’s viewpoint when announcing your news-worthy info.

A good release answers some key questions:

– what’s the unsolved problem?

– what does it accomplish?

– what’s the benefit?

– is the solution a product or a service, and how does it work?

– how is it able to do this?

– what will cause the readership to take interest in your service?

– what’s the cost?

– what are the top features?

– what capabilities are provided?

– when is the product available?

– what are the most important features?

Avoid praising oneself or one’s company. Remove over-used words such as ‘revolutionary,’ ‘the best,’ and ‘unique.’ Editorial staff people prefer customer testimonials rather than self-praise from an employee. Don’t use lingo that a layperson would not understand. Is it accessible to the readership? Keep in mind that even the editorial staff don’t really have a deep understanding of your products and services. Write in a clear and simple style. Remember to put contact info at the top or bottom of your submission, including company name, the titles of relevant employees, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail addresses. Include photos if the magazine prints them, and inquire about the file format preferred. Digital photos are preferred by most – use literal descriptions in the file names so editorial staff can easily identify and find them. It is best to send your release to a list of individual editors; however some mass distribution press services are found on the ‘net. These services distribute your releases to editors for you, for a fee. You may consider prnewswire.com, prweb.com, and send2press.com, among others.

Public relations can also be used for better SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaigns. Wire services are excellent ways to attain better SEO results. Once sent, the release will be findable by search engine news wire services such as Googlenews, news syndicates and traditional publications, all of which will have the ability to visit your website via a link. The link network is key for Search Engine Optimization as the number of links directing to your website improves your rank and puts your company nearer to the top of the list in search results for certain words. By sending your release in to wire services you may help writers locate info about you and your services. A recent Middleburg/Ross survey indicated that almost all journalists access the web on a daily basis – almost three quarters of them search for press releases. For a free news wire about your field, visit: google.com/alerts and subscribe for free. For more about marketing for lead generation, see: ‘Business-to-Business Lead Generation Tactics : A Recipe for Success.’