Tag Archives: marketing

The place of PR in 2016

Negotiating the world in 2016 is a difficult one for many, especially businesses – the enormous strides we’ve made in terms of technology and culture, the continued way everyone is becoming connected, all have a great impact on how businesses are treated and viewed.

For example, it’s now no longer possible for businesses to ignore the impact and importance of social media – in an age where Facebook has 1.23 billion active users, and where serious analysts believe social media is taking over traditional news sites. This has meant that those who deal with public relations have had to reassess what precisely that means.

Indeed, some view public relations as the solution to ongoing, interactive and somewhat user-controlled environment of marketing. Writing in Advertising Age, Lindsay Stein notes:

“Public relations has always played its part in the marketing mix, even if it was added to plans late and rarely recognized like other disciplines. But the emergence of skippable, blockable, opt-out-able advertising, not to mention ever-more integrated campaigns, means PR can suddenly demand more than a supporting role—and maybe even take center stage.”

The more people have control over their own media, the more it’s meant that businesses have had to be smarter about how they present themselves. Users can ignore or block several aspects of marketing. What businesses have tried to do is create alternative focus for engagement: for example, creating content users themselves will seek out and share with their friends.

Yet, PR still has the opportunity to take the lead, as many public relations courses will tell you – especially as per social media use. As Fortune Magazine highlighted:

“social media offers hope for building better relationships between PRs and the people they need to work with. Rather than blindly pitching thousands of people hoping for a 1% response rate, public relations pros can deeply research and build strong relationships with the journalists most likely to be interested in the companies they represent.”

Rather than it being an inhibitor for creating visibility and positive association with your company, you can use social media as a tool to reach and learn about those who can do well by your business.

PR is also a fascinating field due to it constantly changing and having to keep pace with technology; this means it’s an ever-green field ripe for creativity and for those looking to have their artistic and writing talents put to the test.

PR tactics to avoid

No matter how good your business might be in producing a service or product, bad publicity can ruin it regardless. Negotiating the perception of your company is precisely what public relations is about; how do you look in the eye of the public, what comes across and so forth. Ideally, PR would simply be a window into your already effective business – and you would be making sales based on your skills as a business alone. This benefits both PR and you as a business owner, since it’s an ideal to constantly aim for and a vision to keep in your mind’s eye.

But sometimes, promotion will either be detrimental or ineffective. For example, when contacting journalists to provide a story, too often PR people will provide the wrong details, withhold information and do a multitude of other things that simply frustrate the process – journalists are busy and bombarded by many other people. If you don’t make the process as smooth as possible, you will have a higher chance of losing the journalist’s interest and therefore promotion of your company.

CyberAlert spoke to journalists about what irritates them the most – which means what will make the journalists simply give up – and they noted:

“Reporters dislike receiving a pitch on a story they just covered or one just covered by a colleague or competitor.  They may write about the same topic or industry again, but surely won’t report the same angle anytime soon. They are also unlikely to feature your company strongly again, in order to maintain independence, balance and avoid being labeled as a shill.”

The biggest tool for marketing has, of course, been the viral nature of the internet. Yet, as Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO/Founder of sales training and marketing firm RedRover, notes:

“You simply can’t control the viral nature of a campaign, as the stars must be perfectly aligned and many of those stars are far outside of your control. Sure, it is gratifying when you see your work picking up viral steam, but avoid setting out with that in mind or you may lose sight of what matters most – the delivery of valuable, relevant content to your target market.”

Often, businesses lack knowledge about how precisely to promote themselves. It is highly beneficial to hire professionals, people who are knowledgeable about the fickle nature of PR, who’ve done public relations courses. By failing to use professionals, business chance making these blunders more so than ineffective PR firms.

Getting your business noticed online

In the increasingly difficult to get noticed in a world swarming with information. Everyone wants to be at the top and thus needs to find a way to get there. Being good isn’t sufficient any longer and we need to figure out the various ways we can get noticed in today’s furious online culture – where information is instant and consumption is particular.

The first thing people think of is that you need expensive marketing budgets: billboards, TV adverts, giant posters. Some of the most expensive adverts cost in the tens of millions of British Pounds. But, for the average small business, we simply could not afford such expenses.

But your budget need not be about having lots of money – or, indeed, even about money. Primarily, you can market yourself primarily on time and energy. One of the best, and most powerful and efficient, ways to do this is to market yourself properly on social media.

You need to learn how to engage directly with customers, using services like Twitter and Facebook. But just because you’ve signed up and have a profile doesn’t mean you’ll be doing it correctly.

As Entrepreneur notes:

“Just like a person who constantly talks about himself, a company that never stops selling on social media is a bore. Don’t use every post and tweet to tout your product or service. Instead, mix in some links to interesting stories that are relevant to your industry and community, as well as personal posts, such as a fun anecdote about your office culture.”

Another good way is to become a resource for HARO.

“From The New York Times, to ABC News, to HuffingtonPost.com and everyone in between, nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources in their stories. Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for.”

If you or your company is then taken up as an authority, you could find yourself being given a platform in some of the most read spaces online. It might important to keep track of this and then request links back to your site if you are mentioned.

Of course, all this won’t make sense if you don’t have a website. Maintaining your website is essential, as today most of your customers are more than likely finding out about you online – thus will be presented with a first impression with how they are presented to you digitally.

All of this, of course, doesn’t make sense if your own office is lacking. Keeping your equipment up-to-date is essential in order to not lose connection and staying ahead of the game. It might mean you need to consider asset finance, but considering you’re paying to stay connected, it is a priority you must maintain.

Smarter displays for your shop

We can’t underestimate the impact signs make on potential customers. By displaying who we are and what we sell to those who  can create income for us, we actually start that process for us to make that income. But we can have the world’s best staff, the highest quality product, and the still make no profit due to being invisible to clientele.

Thus making and directing your potential clients to you is incredibly important. One interesting area is behavioural economics and the applications to marketing.

Marketing Magazine highlights:

“Behavioural economics, the theory behind why humans make economic decisions, has been in the making for forty years. But new research has found advertisers can leverage the theory in startling ways, increasing footfall in a shopping mall by 75%.”

This can be applied to multiple aspects. For example, shopfitting can help showcase your store in ways that would otherwise make it invisible. Even new owners of businesses recognise this. Masterchef South Africa 2014 winner, Roxi Wardman, and her fiance even mention the importance of shopfitting in creating their first cafe.

Staying with South Africa, retail shopfitting in Johannesburg has proved important to the business central of the country.  Consider for example how brands have flocked to South Africa – and Gauteng province in particular.

“From Prada and Louis Vuitton to Paris Hilton and Tiger of Sweden, there is hardly an international label out there that you can’t find in a mall these days.

“This month especially, fashion editors have been kept busy with a series of fashion retailer launches, mostly at Sandton City’s dazzling new R185-million Diamond Walk.

“To much fanfare, the Diamond Walk opened this month and now houses a host of flagship stores of the world’s most coveted fashion brands, including Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna, Billionaire Italian Couture, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Arque Champagne Crescent.”

Brands here already are famous: they merely require space in which to sell. Nonetheless, the space in which they’re operating proves helpful to marketing themselves to potential customers. Thus, it’s not just up to business brands themselves but to the spaces in which they can operate.

All this shows that marketing is complicated because it’s dependent on human thinking and behaviour; while we can use tools and concepts from behaviour economics and other disciplines, it doesn’t guarantee we’ll be selling well. But we can at least attempt to do so and recognise that being the best at business means being the best at promoting business.

Will the internet destroy traditional forms of information gathering?

Some of the biggest names in the world today emerged as a direct result of the Internet. For example, one of the most popular videos on YouTube “Gangnam Style” has been seen 2,092,676,383; the creator, Psy, has travelled the world and been received with lavish praise. The young popstar Justin Bieber emerged as a direct result of the same site. There’s little doubt it’s aided careers of performers all over the world to break into industries and accelerate their popularity.

The internet has of course changed various dynamics in how we get careers. Aside from world famous celebrities, many people are taking courses in subjects they either couldn’t or would never have thought of; the barriers to knowledge are mostly dropped as vast swathes of information are freely available for consumption. Everything from WikiPedia to the Guardian is available to read online.

Online learning has also taken off. Of course, many are not legitimate enterprises so it’s necessary to take stock of which ones are real and accredited, and which are not.

Many things can be done online, including various kinds of trading as seen with sites like Mirrovest. We can shop for our groceries and have them delivered to our door from accredited stores. We communicate and debate and laugh, we watch films and play games and investigate foreign countries – all from the comfort of monitors.

Many people might think this is detrimental to experiencing life itself. After all, looking at the sea from a monitor versus being at the beach are two different experiences. Falling to earth from outer space versus watching a Go-Pro of someone doing it are two different things.

The question is whether this is a difference in degree or kind.

Degree and not kind

Before the internet, did there exist a format where we experienced adventures, foreign lands, strange people, without ever leaving? Was there a way for us to communicate our opinions and ideas without engaging with them directly? Of course: that’s what books and letters were for.

Newspapers have been around for hundreds of years, conveying information from foreign places and about distant events. Again: people have not been directly involved in events they knew about and had an opinion about for ages.

The Internet does only one thing differently: it conveys things in real time (and notifies you). But being instant is the only way it is different in kind, rather than degree. Otherwise, the Internet is not particularly unique in how we as a species have engaged in information.

This means any concerns about how we learn and think and market, about how we advertise and distribute knowledge isn’t unique to the Internet. People have always had to think about the medium of communication. The Internet is simply the latest medium in a long, ever-growing list of forms we’ve communicated.

(Image credit: Rock1997 / Wikipedia)