3 Public Relations and Marketing Lessons Inspired by Nature

Nature can teach us, if we’ll listen and observe. Recently, I was inspired to discover the amazing connection between what nature knows and the work we do in public relations and marketing. Here are three of the lessons I’ve learned:

You must get noticed

A peacock fans its feathers producing a show-stopping display of color. Sunrises and sunsets are so captivating that television meteorologists include viewers’ photos of them on their broadcasts and social media pages. A spider weaves an intricate web that gives one pause to observe, if you’re lucky enough not to walk through it first! Examples are everywhere in nature.

Likewise, in public relations and marketing we use a variety of strategies to get clients noticed. We work with the media to tell their story. We use social media to connect and build engagement with target audiences and influencers. We create marketing collateral to explain products and services.

Relationships matter

Hummingbirds draw nectar as nourishment from flowers while serving as pollinators. Cows stir up insects that egrets gobble up. Ladybugs eat aphids on daylilies, thereby enabling the flowers to thrive.

In public relations and marketing, our very survival is based on mutually advantageous relationships such as those found in nature. That’s why the Public Relations Society of America defines PR in this way:

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Sometimes we meet with stakeholders in one-on-one meetings. At other times, we gather a larger community together and ask for feedback. Regardless of the format, public relations professionals know that building relationships matters.

Change is good

Chameleons change colors. Crawfish molt. Deciduous trees drop their leaves. Butterflies burst from chrysalises. Just as nature changes, those of us in public relations and marketing must adapt and change with our profession.

In recent years, we’ve embraced new technologies and media channels. We’ve added permission-based marketing strategies to our toolboxes and become masters at content marketing. We more quickly and efficiently deliver news to information-hungry consumers who expect instant news. And as the influential voice of these stakeholders has grown, we’ve engaged them in meaningful dialogue to build valuable relationships.

I love this saying from Albert Einstein, as he obviously understood the power of nature: Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to step outside for some fresh air. Maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to see a bird or a butterfly and learn a new lesson from nature about public relations and marketing.

Public Relations and the Internet

Although the field of public relations is quite new, it is seen to be pivotal to many companies when coordinating advertising and marketing campaigns. Public relations, which is often defined as “The art or science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public” has been increasing in popularity, especially now with the Internet being used as a tool for communication in modern society.

Frequent usage of the Internet has allowed consumers to communicate and access products and services from companies more easily. For example, Jerry Fireman states, “Public relations can be cost effective because the media–rather than the marketer–takes on the expense of delivering the information to the intended recipient.” (Fireman 2006, p: 1). Hence, by advertising on the Internet and promoting good relationships with clients, public relation officers are now able to achieve access to a wider market with a lower expenditure rate. Furthermore, the Internet has viewers from different nations and cultural beliefs; therefore, the scope of campaigns for modern public relation officers has increased.

Secondly, the technology of the Internet has increased the attractiveness and effectiveness of public relations. For example, public relations originated from Newspapers and News reports; however, communication can now take the form of interactive visual graphics as well as creative websites and short multimedia presentations. Techniques that are used by public relation consultants are varied, hence creativity and the impact of the statement on the website is very important in modern communication and public relations. Public relations in contemporary society is now inter-connected with understanding the discourse and the changes of supply and demand in the market, however, it is also about effective corporate ethics used to enhance the status of a company, and to provide effective long-term relationships with clients.

Although some academics would argue that public relations have become advertisement-based focusing mainly on persuading consumers to purchase a product, the effectiveness of these advertising and marketing techniques have also greatly enhanced the needs of the consumer market. The advantages of utilizing public relations on the Internet have also benefited people who may not have otherwise have had access to the advertising of these products due to their lifestyle or the location of their home. The Internet has indeed connected the wants and demands of consumers to the supply and services of the producers. Although the value and importance of the Internet is highly contentious and can be interpreted differently by separate discourses, most societies would agree that the Internet has established a prominent role in the globalization process, resulting in public relations and communication increases.

References:

Answers.com (2006) Definition of Public Relations: http://www.answers.com/
Fireman, Jerry (2006) Successful PR: ‘It’s all about understanding the media.’ http://www.marketingprofs.com

10 Components of Online Public Relations

The expansion of public relations into the online arena is essential, both for PR pros and clients who hire them. Public relations is broadly defined as “unpaid publicity,” setting it apart from advertising, or “paid publicity.” Thus, Internet ads, including programs such as AdWords, should be left to advertisers. However, many online activities are available at no cost and require original vendor-neutral content. Therefore, they can properly be undertaken by a public relations agency.

1) Blogs

Collections of short entries with a common theme, blogs provide original thoughts by the client and are often written or edited by a public relations professional. They should reside on the client’s website, contain contributions of 200-300 words, and be posted at least once a week.

2) Email marketing

The purview of programs such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, email marketing consists of a customized template with article snippets and an optional link, “click here to read more.” The link will drive the reader to the client’s website and thus increase traffic. Email newsletters are also useful in reminding prospects of your services by showing up in their email box every other month.

3) Social media

The “sexiest” element of online PR, social media gives the opportunity for visitors to post their thoughts and links to interesting articles, with the option of commenting on posts left by others, known as followers, connections, etc. The big three: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter should not be neglected, but social media is constantly evolving. Pinterest was all the rage for a while and more recently, Instagram has taken its place.

4) Website development

Creating new web pages is relatively easy to learn, and you can then use FTP programs to upload, download and edit pages at no cost. The ability to create new pages is essential for a client’s website to remain dynamic, react to recent developments in its field and stay ahead of the competition.

5) Media room

A media room gathers all the publicity about your client in one section of its website. It should contain categories such as press releases, email newsletters and bylined articles with a landing page for each one, a list of the publicity achieved and a link to the full document. A media room will grow as the public relations professional achieves publicity for its client.

6) Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization or SEO requires the creation of original content and increasing the number of inbound links going to the client’s website. Inbound links are simply clickable text on other sites pointing to your own. Google uses this parameter as a primary element in determining the ranking of websites.

7) Keyword research

Keyword research provides critical information in determining website content. You must find out what keywords or short phrases your clients’ potential customers are using when they are looking to purchase their product. Then, you can optimize for those keywords by including them in the clients’ website and “meta tags.”

8) Article marketing

Article marketing involves the creation of bylined documents and then posting them on “content provision sites.” These sites provide material for their visitors, but anyone publishing them must include the URL to your client’s (author’s) site, thus creating an inbound link and improving SEO.

9) Graphic design

Typically outsourced in traditional public relations, elementary graphic design such as cropping and resizing images is essential for website content and email templates.

10) Integrated communications

The ability to combine all the elements above, re-using content where appropriate (depending on copyright permissions), and using them in tandem with traditional PR, is essential to garner the maximum benefit from an overall public relations program.

Public Relations and Brand Management

Public relations often times is overlooked by business, and it is easy to do so with all moving parts of a business is focused on at any given moment. When a consumer finds news of any product from third party or independent agencies customers trust more of that particular brand and it keeps on increasing when customer find news of that brand on regular basis.

The biggest benefit that you get with consistent public relations is that pr builds general awareness about the brand and your company and the consumer assumes that this particular brand or company is bigger and well established, weather it is fact or not.

There is no shortage of industries where the successful implementation of Public Relations can make a huge difference in a business’ success in the market place. No matter what a company sells – goods, services or both – a smart public and media relations program can result in great returns. Effectively incorporating PR into your business efforts can do a number of things:

  • Create “buzz” when your company introduces new products or services into the marketplace
  • Generate interest in a company’s goods and or services
  • Enhance the credibility of a company and polish its brand image.
  • Attract attention to a company and raise its visibility in a competitive market niche

Public Relations has become an effective way to build a brand. The aim of branding is to convey brand message vividly, create customer loyalty, persuade the buyer for the product, and establish an emotional connectivity with the customers. Branding forms customer perceptions about your product and or service. It is branding that makes customers committed to your business. Brand management is the art of creating and sustaining the brand. A strong brand differentiates your products and services from that of competitors.

Branding helps give a quality image to your business. The primary aim of branding is to create differentiation. It is that differentiation that helps in capturing market share and drive your business. Branding creates an identify for a business and in a sense, your brand serves as a foundation, so want to ensure that your brand is as strong as possible. It is key that your brand is fully developed before engaging in public relations, marketing, and advertising activities–you want to avoid implementing these strategies prematurely. PR along with marketing and advertising do not build the brand. These activities defend the brand’s reputation bring exposure to it, and get the story of the brand out to the public. If the brand itself is not strong, or not fully developed then these efforts are done in vain.

Whether it is gaining exposure for your brand or creating buzz around the launch of your newest product, Public Relations is important! Getting the word out about your product or service should always be a priority.