By Hope Katz Gibbs
Founder & President
Inkandescent Public Relations
Greater visibility. That’s the goal of any public relations and marketing campaign. So what does it take to get out the good word about your company so you can build your business? Whether you are just starting out, are looking to increase sales, or need to rebrand your firm, following are a dozen ideas to help you accomplish your communications goals.
1. Pick good PR partners. The first step in any strong communications campaign is to partner with the right creative team. Their track record for creating successful campaigns is important, but they must also share your vision, and have a style that dovetails with yours—or you’ll drive each other mad.
2. Be clear. As the leader of your firm, you know what you do, why you do it better than anyone else, and why everyone should hire your firm. The key is to express your message to others as clearly, and concisely, as possible. Once you do, your PR and marketing team can begin shouting it from the rooftops (on your website, to reporters, in print and broadcast ads, and through social media sites).
3. Be strategic. Speaking of social media outreach—and any other form of outreach, for that matter—the key to success is to have a strategic plan. Are you going to post an interesting tidbit on the social media sites daily, weekly, or monthly? Why? What are you going to say? Will the message dovetail with the key messages your PR team is sharing? Start by outlining your long-term goals, then work backward to define the steps that you’ll follow as you unveil your strategic communications plan.
4. Build trust by being authentic. Every decision a consumer makes is based on trust—trust in a product or service, and trust in the people who make and deliver it. Your PR and marketing message needs to reflect the fact that you can be counted on to deliver what you promise. Of course, no one—especially a reporter—is going to trust an entrepreneur who is spouting marketing slogans. Also, when a reporter asks a question that you don’t have an answer for, don’t be afraid to say so. No one likes a know-it-all, anyway.
5. Have a great elevator speech. Now that you’ve honed your pithy, authentic message, tell me what you do in one minute. Go. That’s right, you have about 60 seconds to make a great impression. Write it down. Practice it with your kids, the dog, and your assistant. Would they buy your product or service? If not, try again.
6. Engage. When it comes to reaching out to others in a meaningful way, focus on building personal relationships. Social media sites provide a great opportunity to do this, because they enable you to share thoughts and ideas—not only about what you do—but also about your mission, values, and goals. This is how potential partners, customers, and future employees get to know you before any contracts are signed or money changes hands. Be honest and forthright, and you will build goodwill and a strong following.
7. Give, and you shall receive. Everyone in your database of clients and contacts, friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, and contacts on LinkedIn, likes to hear that you won an award, got a media mention, or landed a new client—but they’d be more likely to buy your product or service if there is something in it for them. So if you own a cooking school or restaurant, post yummy recipes on your website, put them into your ads, and blast them out in your e-newsletter—as do our clients at Culinaria Cooking School. The same principle applies to our client Simplicity Urgent Care, where the docs share useful medical tips in their monthly newsletter. This approach lets your prospects know that you’re the real deal and are interested in building a mutually beneficial relationship—not just engaging in a one-time transaction.
8. Be the face of your firm. Getting into the spotlight and spreading the message about your firm can be daunting, especially if you are an introvert. But it is one of the best ways to build trust. Have great headshots and a pithy bio. Don’t be shy. While some entrepreneurs have a strong team that they want to share the credit with, there are other ways to honor them. It’s mission critical to have one go-to person define the firm—or two or three at most in the case of partners (but that calls for another list of 12 Tips).
9. Give it time. Like anything worthwhile, success in the PR and marketing sphere takes practice. So go slow—especially when it comes to being quoted in publications or on radio and TV. Aim to be interviewed for smaller publications at first, and as you get more confident talking to reporters, start reaching out to the biggies. Don’t worry; it’ll happen.
10. Spend wisely. Image is everything, so be sure to invest in the design features that will build your brand. That includes your logo; your website design, organization, and writing; your ads; and your promotional products. By spending money in the right spots, and at the right levels, you will be making targeted investments in high-impact areas. Then, you can bootstrap it in other places.
11. Be realistic, and consistent. The phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” may be trite, but it’s also true. While it sometimes takes a year or more to get a client quoted in The Wall Street Journal, or on a national—or even a local—TV news show, a good publicist will usually accomplish that goal. The key is consistency. Like waves pounding a beach, regularly send out interesting information about your firm in the form of e-newsletters, articles, interviews, and through social media sites—and you will build your business.
12. Be light. Your PR and marketing campaign is the fun stuff, the jazzy stuff, and what gets you out into the limelight. So have fun with it. And consider this quote from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian.” “When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best. Always look on the bright side of life. Always look on the light side of life.”
Here is to being Inkandescent!
For more information, contact Hope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Hope Katz Gibbs
Journalist Hope Katz Gibbs has been a newspaper and magazine reporter since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. After studying for her master’s degree in educational leadership at The George Washington University, she launched her freelance writing business in 1993.
Hope’s articles have appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Miami Herald, dozens of association, business, education and general interest magazines, and many alumni publications including her own alma maters, the University of Pennsylvania and The George Washington University.
She won two awards for feature writing from the Florida Magazine Association, and a six other honors for newsletter writing from the National School Public Relations Association. She has been listed in “Who’s Who in Media & Communications” since 1989, and “Who’s Who of American Women” since 1993.
In 2008, Hope founded Inkandescent Public Relations, a PR / publications / media relations / marketing firm that helps small businesses get the visibility they need. Along with her award-winning team, she creates high-end marketing materials, writes and edits press releases, newsletters, and white papers, and works closely with reporters to help get the word out about her clients. Hope also plans and organizes events, co-writes and ghostwrites books, and maintains her clients’ websites so they are up-to-date and provide an accurate, impressive image.
View Hope’s journalism portfolio at www.hopegibbs.com.