Public relations (PR) is important for any business. Businesses are no longer completely separated from their consumers. They no longer just offer consumers a service. Nowadays, businesses have to build networks and personal connections with their consumers. PR is the interaction between your organisation and your target market. The interaction is achieved using online methods, the media, and direct communication. Competition between brands and businesses is extremely high (and getting higher), thus, it is always important to keep your brand a cut above the rest.
PR is important as it has a direct link to the amount of sales a business can make. Sales are largely determined by the number of satisfied customers. Thus, bad press can also be responsible for decreasing sales in many businesses. It is always important to keep an eye on how the public responds to your products, and that is why having a person responsible for PR is important, especially for growing businesses.
Relationships are important
Information spreads easily, so it is important to always make sure that the information being spread is vital and informative about your business. PR will ensure this happens.
The biggest public relations tool is word-of-mouth. When a consumer is satisfied with a service, they will tell a friend, their family, hairdresser, and anyone else who is willing to listen. Good service on its own is not enough, however. Consumers have to be made aware of your successful efforts; public relations officers take care of this.
If your business has a strong online presence, it is important to be consistent in your communication with your online users. For instance, if a customer lays a complaint online, it is best to have someone on stand-by to attend to them as quickly as possible. This helps build a strong relationship between the brand and the customer, and can be the difference between never having that customer again and having that person bring three more people with them the next time they visit you.
Because your PR department will also deal with the media, it is very important that they are consistent when submitting your promotional items to media professionals. This also fosters a good relationship with the media houses.
A good PR consultant or department will have a PR strategy that plans a year ahead in terms of campaigns and activities. The strategy should outline the goals and objectives for the year, and show how they plan to keep people talking about your business. There should also be a focus on how the business aims to utilise social media to its own advantage.
Honesty is key
The relationship formed between customers and the businesses should be one of complete trust. The PR department should not be there just to cover up problems and represent the company in a good light. It should rather be there to put matters into perspective for current and potential clients.
It is important for all businesses to have a PR department, but sometimes new and small businesses cannot afford the expense of hiring a professional. Doing your own PR maybe an option, but you will need to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to it. Make sure you interact with people on your social media accounts, and regularly update your accounts with interesting news, photos, and information that are industry specific. Contact relevant newspapers, magazines, and journalists, and start your own blog just to show your audience that you know what you are talking about.
The idea behind PR is to influence your consumers into buying into your brand. Good PR can help your brand shine above all others and bring you potentially loyal customers.
About the Author: Zimasa Mpemnyama is just starting out in the world of digital marketing and PR, but already she can see the important interplay between traditional PR strategies and modern techniques that use social media and other online forms of communication.