The right time to start communicating is now! Get that PR plan into action today, before it’s too late!
Most companies that have so far survived the recession and soaring energy costs are understandably cautious about investment in anything other than raw materials or essential components and consumables. Marketing and PR remain low on many people’s agendas – but if they ‘wait and see’ long enough, they will realise this was a costly mistake.
Our business year is punctuated by the effects of the education system – three holidays and three half-terms, all of which take people off the production line or out of the office. Some companies may escape with an almost imperceptible dip in their output, others may feel a serious impact.
The ups and downs of the business year lead to many discussions about the best times to launch new products, and when to embark on PR and marketing campaigns. It’s not an exact science, and some industries are more seasonal than others – but in general terms, if you want to see some real results from a new PR programme before Christmas, you need to start the ball rolling as soon as possible.
Your basic PR aims are to inform your existing and potential customers, and to stand out over your competitors with quality communication and thought leadership. Don’t give your competitors the opportunity to claim the PR high ground. Get your message into the print media, online and into your in-house publications sooner, rather than later. Your customers need time to receive your message, assimilate it, and act on it. Action is the result you are looking for.
‘Wait and see’ is an easy option, after all, things may get better tomorrow. But they may not. Doing something today probably will have implications of cost and effort … but it could make all the difference.
Instead of being bold with PR, some companies simply ‘bury their heads in the sand’ – a response which in real life would leave part of the human anatomy dangerously vulnerable. Communicate, don’t hesitate!
Great PR and marketing opportunities occur virtually every day.
Well done if you spotted the intentional double meaning! By stretching the meaning of ‘virtually’ into modern-speak, the opening statement tells us that the opportunities arise almost every day and that they occur in the e-world on a daily basis.
Good PR and marketing isn’t just playing with words (although that is a vital element). It’s also about seizing opportunities to communicate effectively with target audiences, and it’s about maintaining a print and electronic media presence that facilitates effective communication.
Every contact with a customer is a ‘golden moment’ PR opportunity and the best way to capitalise on this potential is to ensure that customer-facing staff are fully prepared. Similarly, PR and marketing teams need to fine-tune their pipeline of activities so that no worthwhile opportunities for communicating in the wider marketplace are overlooked. A steady flow of quality media releases keeps editors and their readers interested and aware – and provides valuable words for further use.
Add into this mix the power of internet communication, and the importance of a dynamic, well-written and content-rich website, and constructive use of social media channels becomes blindingly obvious. The internet never sleeps and electronic customer touchpoints can occur at any time, so ensure your chosen words are ready for each opportunity.
Finally, remember the old proverb: Opportunity seldom knocks twice.
Used intelligently, social media undoubtedly provide a powerful means of disseminating and receiving information. The advent of instant messaging, notably Twitter, has facilitated global communication on an unprecedented scale – enabling individuals and companies to talk instantly to anything from one person to many millions of followers.
For companies, Twitter is now a virtually indispensable element in the communication mix. It provides probably the fastest means of alerting followers to corporate news items, product updates, key appointments and thought leadership. For example, an announcement via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook may well have drawn you to read this post – and possibly even within minutes of its publication on the web.
The key to making Twitter a successful outward communication tool is twofold: you must have something of value to communicate, and you must have followers who can benefit in some way from the information you impart. Remember that communication is a two-way process, and that you can also benefit from the inward flow of information from clients, competitors, the media, government and other sources.
The difficulty is selecting the right people to follow. Unfortunately, many Tweets fail the ‘who cares?’ test, and I for one don’t have time to wade through a blow-by-blow account of some people’s (and some companies’) daily existence. On the other hand, news affecting my business – or my clients’ – is either commercially valuable or at least useful knowledge.
Unless you can employ a full-time social media executive to monitor this traffic, you can waste a great deal of time on Twitter if you follow too many of the ‘wrong’ people. The best system is to build your ‘following’ list slowly, adding perhaps two or three at a time – and ruthlessly using the ‘unfollow’ option if they aren’t adding value for the space their Tweets occupy in your timeline.
You need followers, too, so use every available means to encourage the people you want to follow you. Put reminders on corporate stationery as well as on your website – and remember to use the links now available across several social media services to broaden your distribution.
If you are reading this because you are already among my followers, connections or friends and saw the Tweet, then I hope you get some real benefit from reading my blog. If you have found the blog through other routes, I’d be delighted to welcome you to my followers. In either case, I can promise that my Tweets will be limited to worthwhile news and comment.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.