By Laura Harker, writer and editor based in Gateshead, UK, working closely with Latana.
Public relations (PR) is often held up as the golden ticket for maintaining the reputation of a company. Just place some interviews and news pieces in newspapers and online publications, and that’s all there is to PR, right?
Well, not quite. PR is actually a lot more multi-faceted and isn’t just there to protect the public opinion of a brand. In fact, when used well, PR can really go the distance in helping branding strategy too, especially when it comes to improving reach.
Do you think your PR could be doing more for your brand overall? If the answer is a resounding “yes”, then it’s time to add it to your branding strategy. By following these next few steps, you’ll find that a PR-based blueprint for your brand can help spread your reach super efficiently.
Using PR as a Branding Strategy to Improve Your Reach
- PR Tells Your Brand Story
Every brand needs to tell its story. Customers love a good story—55% are more likely to buy a product if they like the brand story behind it. That’s because it makes your brand look like more than just a business; it will come across as a lot more human and relatable.
Now you’ve just got to write a story and get it out there so everyone hears it. There’s no better way to do this than with a PR strategy.
Firstly, it’s important to create a story that is consistent throughout the brand. What’s the brand’s history? What values do you hold? Why are you doing what you do? Make sure you iron out all the details that you want to stick in your audience’s mind as storytelling is 22-times more memorable than simply relaying facts.
A solid PR strategy can help get this brand story into all the right places. PR is, essentially, creative storytelling, so it’s a great tool to use here. From getting a well-placed piece in an industry publication showcasing a member of staff to collaborating with influencers who share your values, there are various ways PR can push your brand story into the mainstream.
- Use PR To Reach the Best Target Audience
PR is incredibly useful when you need to reach your target audience. Of course, you’ll probably have multiple audiences that you try to attract, as it’s most common for brands to market to three audience segments.
Here’s an example of how PR can help: If you sell hearing aids that are aimed at the elderly, it would be wrong to focus the brand’s story and PR outreach on millennials. That generation just won’t have any interest in or need for the product. So, the PR team will build a strategy that places your product and overall brand story in front of the elderly; they won’t waste time trying to win placements in millennial-driven publications and sites.
It pays to define the target audience before launching into a new PR strategy. Then it’s a win-win situation: knowing the audience will help build a strong strategy, while the PR side of things will ensure the right people are always exposed to your brand and its story.
- Improve the Brand’s Identity with PR
PR should also be used to develop and improve your brand’s identity.
To start off with, think about what the key selling points of your brand are. Why should customers be interested in you if you’re not aligning your brand with proactive customer service? What are you offering them that other brands don’t? Use answers to these kinds of questions to shape the PR strategy.
To cement your brand identity, you’ll also have to choose the right kind of media in which to place your stories. These should be publications that will reach your target audience. Whether you choose to go for a story in a national broadsheet or a tabloid newspaper could really change the way consumers think of the brand. And don’t forget to try to get as much earned media as possible—92% of consumers trust this over promotional content.
PR is the best opportunity to tell consumers about your brand; you can tell them everything you want them to know. You’ll already be doing this with other branding efforts, including content marketing, but you’ll find that your branding becomes a lot more effective and successful when combined with PR. This is especially the case when you’re trying to bring new products onto the market or going through a brand redesign.
For a good example of how to do a brand extension well, take a look at Dunkin’ Donuts. Originally, the brand started out selling simple pastries and mediocre coffee. Eventually, they wanted to take on the big-name coffee chains, so they started adding more breakfast items to their menu and greatly improved their coffee.
Just making these changes wouldn’t have been enough; they needed to get the word out there so that consumers knew they were moving over into the specialty coffee market. Thanks to PR and branding working together to shift the public’s perception of the brand, the extension was a huge success. So much so, that the brand has announced they are dropping “Donuts” from their name.
- Improve Consumer Trust
We’ve already hinted at PR being able to boost consumer trust. After all, if that 92% of consumers who do trust earned media more see your media placements in respectable publications, then they are much more likely to view your brand as trustworthy.
Personal PR can also really help to build trust as well. Every day, we produce as much data as was generated in all of human existence leading up to 2003. That’s a whole lot of data and info to get distracted by, and when the average human attention span is only 8 seconds, you need to make sure that whatever your brand says is cutting through all the noise to grab people. Personal PR does just that. You’ll be reaching out to and addressing customers directly, so they can’t help but listen.
PR can also help a brand get more referrals, something that is super important for B2B companies; 82% of B2B buyers start the process with a referral. Good PR can get plenty of people talking about a brand. When someone likes a particular product or company, they’re going to be a lot more likely to tell their friends and family about it. If a customer knows that someone close to them trusts a brand, it then provides the foundations for them to build their own trust in it too.
- PR Provides Validation for Startups
Every startup could use a good serving of PR in the very early stages. Doing so can help to attract investors and customers. As 70% of startups fail to get any funding during the early months, adding some good PR alongside marketing and SEO could help the startup get over the initial hurdles that most new businesses face.
Just think: if you get your startup brand a mention in a national newspaper or on a popular blog, then it could open you up to hundreds of thousands of consumers. With the backing of such a reliable publication behind you, your validation will start to grow. That’s especially the case when you think that 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.
Of course, you need to think carefully when choosing the PR placement used to try to get this validation. Choosing the wrong one could alienate your target audience. For instance, 247% of millennials are more likely to be influenced by blogs or social media sites, so getting media placement in a national newspaper wouldn’t do much good when trying to reach them. Back up your strategy by really understanding where your target audience actually spends most of their time and use marketing tools to better communicate with your team and identify channels that work best for your brand.
PR is such a multi-faceted tool, and using it to improve your reach through a branding strategy is just one way it can be put to use. As you’ve seen in this article, you won’t need to alter your use of it vastly in order to see a difference in reach.
It’s all about making subtle changes, such as implementing a brand story and fine-tuning your target audience. This shouldn’t be too difficult when you always keep PR in your mind while working on aspects of your brand strategy.
Once you enable a branding strategy that takes into account good PR practices, you certainly won’t look back. When done well together, branding and PR are the dream team!