When used effectively, public relations can be a real asset for your brand. It can improve reputation, serve as a means of getting through a crisis, or help to highlight what your brand is doing well. In the case of eCommerce, PR is ideal for increasing the visibility of your online store.
But what are the best ways to increase your store’s visibility online? And how can you prepare your brand for a PR campaign?
What are public relations – An introduction
Public relations (often abbreviated to PR) is an area of marketing that is specifically designed to build and maintain a relationship between a brand/company and the public. PR teams are tasked with ensuring that the public is always engaged and interested in their brand, whilst also ensuring the brand’s image is favorable.
Ideally, the brand’s message should always be clear and consistent and be focused on attracting the attention of the right people, i.e those interested in the brand’s niche. This is because there is no guarantee on where and how your message will appear like with advertising. Instead, you are reliant on media validation.
Getting started with your brands PR
With any PR campaign, you will need a solid base to get you started. Here are some of the most useful things to know when starting a PR campaign:
Know your brand and what sets you aside from the competition
To get the most from any PR campaign, you have to know your own brand inside out. This means being able to pinpoint exactly what sets your brand apart from the competition. By having this information, you will be able to structure your campaigns from to get-go, as well as easily present your message to media outlets. So what exactly should you be highlighting when it comes to your brand?
Who you are
Consider who you are as an individual, as well as who your brand is. Do you or your brand have experience in the industry? And if so, to what extent? If you have those things then you can focus on your industry knowledge. If not, focus on some of the other aspects listed.
What you represent and what are your company values
Your customers will always have ideals and beliefs of their own, therefore it is important that your brand has them as well. That way, customers know if they can identify with you. By presenting clear values early on, customers will decide whether they are happy to associate with you, or not.
Who your audience is
Knowing your audience is essential. You need to know what they care about and where their interests lie. Without understanding your audience, you can easily misconvey your intended message.
What you are selling
It’s all well and good persuading people your brand is great. But if those same people don’t know what you’re actually offering them, it won’t bring you much success. Therefore, you should always know your product and how to sell it beforehand.
Your brand’s story
A brief history and introduction to your brand will help people to understand how far you have come. It can potentially evoke emotions and make people see the brand in a positive light from the off.
Knowing your goals well in advance can help to guide any PR campaign. It can also help you to measure your successes during and after the campaign.
Knowing what sets you apart from competitors is the golden ticket to a successful PR campaign. Therefore, knowing your unique selling point in advance will help to guide your focus and push you in the right direction.
Become a relevant part of the conversation in your niche
Even if you are just starting your PR campaign, becoming a relevant part of the conversation in your niche is integral to your success. Proactively positioning your brand like this can help to quickly establish trust, and set you well on your way to becoming a brand leader.
To establish yourself as part of the conversation in your niche, you will need to be regularly active across platforms. This means answering questions on both forums and social media, as well as generally engaging with your audience online. Twitter, Facebook, Quora, and HARO are ideal platforms to start establishing your brand.
It is also worth noting that you should not try not to push your products on people, but instead assist them with issues related to your field. However, you should also be open about your brand. Otherwise, this could create distrust.
Have your own experts at the ready to pinpoint weaknesses early on
PR is a constant job. This means if you are serious about it, you more than likely cannot do it alone. Therefore, you should try and assemble a team of experts or branding agency to pinpoint ways to adapt to your weaknesses early on.
In most cases, PR teams have someone dedicated to the creation of content, as well as a spokesperson. These team members will essentially generate written and spoken content and be guided by a PR specialist, who is regularly networking and finding new opportunities to establish the brand and portray it in a positive light. With this kind of team, you can find any weaknesses and spin them so they show the positive side of the brand. This allows you to build a PR strategy and not get hit with too many negatives from the get-go.
The best ways to use PR to increase your store’s visibility
Have a list of contacts ready for any announcements
If you want your announcements to reach the largest possible audience, you will need to have contacts to help you expand your reach. To build awareness of your brand, you will need to use a few different types of contacts to reach out to. They include:
Ideally, you should find a reporter with a reasonable following that also works in your niche. If you manage to achieve this, then upon the release of your latest product you can inform the reporter to get the word about your new products out there.
Similarly to reporters, it is best to find a blogger of reasonable stature and in your niche. It may also be best to use a blogger that regularly publishes reviews, so any product endorsement seems natural.
Social media is a vital element of modern-day PR, so finding someone within your niche is essential. Ideally, they should also have a reasonable following across as many different social platforms as possible.
What better way to get the word out than through other businesses that align with your way of thinking, and goals. In most cases, using other businesses for PR will be a two-way deal. So you will also need to support them too.
Reaching out after you’ve got a reasonably sized database of contacts
Once you have built up a database of contacts, you can reach out to them whenever necessary. This can be done manually by phone, email, or social media. Alternatively, you can do it automatically through an email marketing tool.
It may also be sensible to label your contacts in your database with information such as their likelihood to respond, as well as their usefulness to you.
Try to position yourself as an expert in your field
By positioning yourself as an expert in your field, you immediately get attention and trust from consumers. If you have already started to become a relevant part of the conversation in your niche, then this will be easier to achieve. However, even if you haven’t, you can get involved in debates online, providing people with essential information. This will help to portray your brand in a positive light.
If you showcase yourself as a knowledgeable brand that cares for people, then your position as an expert will come naturally. However, it will take time. Therefore, it is worth starting this approach as soon as possible over every channel, rather than doing it one channel at a time.
Have a clear goal when you start your campaigns
A clear goal at the start of any PR campaign is essential. Otherwise, it can be a challenge to know what you want to say, who you want to say it, and how you want to achieve that. If your goal is to highlight the quality of your product, then you’ll need to highlight you are aiming for product reviews. You also need to know how many reviews you aim to get out there, and what kind of impact you are hoping for.
By having these goals, you can better measure the successes and failures of your campaign, and spot any shortcomings to improve on in the future.
Create a brand tone
By creating a brand tone, you ensure you have a clear message across platforms that doesn’t confuse consumers. You also make your brand recognizable, and notable. All these factors will work in your favor, as people will find you consistent and easier to identify with.
A clear tone can also make people more willing to share your information, due to it often feeling more personal. This means that any online content you produce is more likely to be shared, due to it being relatable or recognizable.
Generate useful and interesting content
Great content is one of the most useful and effective ways to generate interest in your brand and increase the visibility of your store. It will also help to convince others to share and promote your products.
It is best to generate content in all forms of media. Written content is usually the most effective and could come in the form of a blog, an article, or social media content. However, not everyone has the time to consume written content, which is why it is also recommended that you incorporate other forms of media, such as infographics or videos.
Regardless of which medium you decide you use, you should always try to make your content clear and concise. It should be easy for people to understand and consume. It should also show a clear narrative that highlights the progress of the brand, as well as the usefulness of the information being declared.
Contribute to external media
There are numerous ways you can contribute to external media, and drive up the visibility of your store. They include interviews, podcasts, panel discussions, webinars, and much more. But whichever external media source you decide to use, you should ensure you tailor your content to suit it. This means you cannot create one message for all platforms. Instead, you need to research extensively the best way to portray your brand over each channel. This will help you to find the best angle to take to ensure you get the most from the external media.
You should also consider who the audience of each external media source is. This is because it is highly likely they will have significant differences, even if they are all part of the same target audience for you. For example, podcast listeners and those watching panel discussions already have a significant difference, as they are consuming your content on a different device. This means they are likely to respond to different things in your message too.
Engage with your community and stay in touch with regular announcements
When running a PR campaign, one of the most important factors is staying active and engaging customers. Actively engaging with people is what builds trust and establishes a positive relationship over time. To do this, you should make regular announcements and stay in touch with your audience.
If you slack on engagement, people are quick to forget a brand and its message. A prolonged period without engagement also allows competitors to swoop in and start to build trust.
Utilize social listening to respond to issues and promote achievements
Social listening is the practice of monitoring social media for mentions of your brand. Using social listening is an ideal way to get unfiltered feedback on how your brand is performing, be it positive or negative. This allows you to take action.
Many users will simply be using social media to vent their frustrations. However, it is a great opportunity for you to show the brand in a positive light, by resolving their issues without a request. And even if a resolution is not possible, you can take the issues into account for the future as a way to improve your brand. By doing so, you also show that your brand takes action and you do this right in the public eye.
It should also be noted that online comments on your brand don’t have to be negative for you to take action. You could use positive comments as a way of promoting your brand’s achievements, portraying the brand positively through social proofing.
Getting your brand into the public eye is an essential part of growth. Effective PR is one of the best ways to accomplish that. And even though PR usually takes considerable time and effort, it is well worth the reward. With effective PR, people start to see your brand and remember it for what you have shown them over time, increasing brand awareness and therefore visibility.