Putting Public Relations to Work For Your B2B Business

Not every company has a fantastic public image, but that can change with the help of public relations. This tool is especially important that it can sometimes make or break a business. This is because it allows your business to stand out in the B2B market, which is crowded with competitors. You can expose your company to more potential clients and make them think positively of your products and services.

Public relations can be handled using several different techniques. Combining them helps you affect the public opinion of your company for the best. Some of the most common tools include media tours, press releases, brochures, special events, press conferences, trade shows, direct mail, and newsletters. These are all ways to make your company more visible to the public. The best way to make PR efforts especially effective is to have a public relations specialist analyze what major challenges your company has to face and then design a PR plan that addresses them.

You can create a name for your business and its products and services with the public by means of PR techniques. Whether you are starting out with PR or you need to smooth over an issue with bad press, a PR specialist will be able to identify your potential issues and work around them.

When you put public relations to work for your business, you can boost your sales and make your company more visible to the public. Even though PR efforts are not marketing or sales, they do work with them to help your business grow. Once your PR team has established a good reputation for your company in the B2B world, marketing your products and then selling them will become much simpler.

Your business stands to benefit in many ways by using public relations techniques to create a powerful and positive public image.

The Importance of Public Relations As Part of Your Marketing Mix

What is the importance of public relations? Most small businesses do not invest in public relations (PR); however as a small business owner, you need to commit to a PR program for your business growth. What’s the return on investment for public relations? Building a stronger brand identity will result in more awareness and credibility for your business and its products or services. Higher awareness will help you to gain market interest and market credibility.

What is a definition of public relations?

PR is about using communication tools and strategies to build relationships with various “publics”, such as the business community, customers, suppliers, media, government levels and more. Traditionally this is done through press releases, radio, television, newspapers and magazines. In today’s digital online environment however social media and social networking have become part of an integrated public relations program. PR can influence people’s perceptions and opinions.

Your PR plan needs to focus on building awareness of, and image for, your business and its products and services by:

  • Producing stories and articles for media outlets (both online and offline); Making connections with local media;
  • Monitoring relevant media channels (such as social media monitoring) for public comment about your business, your marketplace and even your competition;
  • Developing a crisis communication plan and managing crises that arise and threaten your business and/or product image;
  • Getting involved with the community and target market through special programs and participation in events;
  • Developing a social media plan to connect with online social networks (there are more than 300 but the main networks are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn); including social media news releases, blogs and forums.

Most public relations plans focus on first identifying the challenge, then building the objectives of the campaign, next building the communication tactics and messages, and finally monitoring results and revising as necessary. This work needs to be ongoing: first one challenge (such as brand recognition), then another challenge (such as brand credibility), then another challenge (such as new product introduction), and then so on.

In today’s digital environment, PR campaigns can be rolled out very quickly, and the impact of the campaign can also be very quickly measured. Public relations will help you launch social networking programs. Learning how to use PR in your small business is key: social media and social networking provides you with low cost communication channels but you still need to learn what to say, and how to say it or you can hurt your brand identity.

Successful small businesses focus on a mix of public relations, social media, online and offline advertising, direct marketing, and personal selling as part of their marketing efforts for building their brand. Strengthen your marketing plan by adding PR to the plan and ensuring that you build measurements into the campaigns: you need to know what works, and what doesn’t work in communicating with your market and with your public.

The Important Role Of Public Relations

Public relations is fundamentally the art and science of establishing relationships between an organization and its key audiences. Public relations plays a key role in helping business industries create strong relationships with customers.

Public relations involves supervising and assessing public attitudes, and maintaining mutual relations and understanding between an organization and its public. The function of public relations is to improve channels of communication and to institute new ways of setting up a two-way flow of information and understanding.

Public relations is effective in helping:

* Corporations convey information about their products or services to potential customers

* Corporations reach local government and legislators

* Politicians attract votes and raise money, and craft their public image and legacy

* Non-profit organizations, including schools, hospitals, social service agencies etc. boost support of their programs such as awareness programs, fund-raising programs, and to increase patronage of their services

Public relations in present times employs diverse techniques such as opinion polling and focus groups to evaluate public opinion, combined with a variety of high-tech techniques for distributing information on behalf of their clients, including the internet, satellite feeds, broadcast faxes, and database-driven phone banks.

As public image is important to all organizations and prominent personalities the role of public relations specialist becomes pertinent in crisis situations. Public relations agencies provide important and timely transmission of information that helps save the face of the organization. In the words of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “Public relations helps an organization and its public adopt mutually to one another.”

Experienced public relations agencies have formulation press releases into which they can plug the company news, as well as a targeted list of publications for their industry. Truly good public relations agencies generally have a good working relationship with key reporters, boosting their chances of getting coverage. Some public relations agencies deal only with large, established clients, while smaller boutique public relations agencies specialize in certain areas.

At present public relations as a career option exists in private companies or government institutions that actively market their product, service and facilities. Public relations training courses are widespread in educational institutions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 122,000 public relations specialists in the United States in 1998 and approximately 485,000 advertising, marketing, and public relations managers working in all industries.

Most public relations practitioners are recruited from the ranks of journalism. Public relations officers are highly trained professionals with expertise and knowledge in many areas, for example shareholder management during a crisis, the evolving role of the in-house public relations professional, account management skills for public relations, an introduction to financial public relations, an introduction to consumer public relations, an introduction to public relations software etc.

Marketing Strategy – Creating Value Through Public Relations

Public relations (PR) is one of many keys to successful business management. In addition to conveying value to the public to include the media, PR entails managing internal and external messages, which may enhance or diminish a brand. The following outlines how the public relations piece fits into the big (marketing strategy) picture.

Big Picture Small Pieces

There is a comprehensive approach to owning and operating a business. Finance, accounting, management, marketing, legal, information systems (technology), and economics are tools which all contribute to the success of a venture. By far however, marketing is the most popular business function.

Marketing Defined

The marketplace is comprised of buyers and sellers who want or need a product. In order to bring exact or prospective buyers together with the appropriate sellers, companies must create a healthy marketing mix.

Marketing entails efforts used to create value in the marketplace and obtain a return for that value. The core of marketing centers on four Ps: product (good or service), price, placement, and promotions. However, consumers and business owners alike are most familiar with three of five aspects of promotions (or marketing communications): advertising, public relations, and sales.

All told, marketing campaigns should center on properly priced and placed products. Subsequently, all promotional efforts such as public relations should reinforce or support a company’s short and long-term goals by product. Balance between the creative aspects of marketing (cool, fun, compelling, engaging, eye-catching, and trendy) and science (facts, figures and measurement controls) helps to ensure success.

PPR 101

Despite economic decline, there appears to be no lull in demand for PR professionals or publicists. If anything, demand is likely to increase.

The primary role of a publicist is to manage public affairs (relations) or external communications. In addition to keeping communication going between buyers and sellers, publicists build relationships on a company’s behalf; create and/or maintain a good corporate image and damage control negative publicity. Glamorized for their ability or need to access high profile, celebrity or exclusive events, being a publicist is hard work. In fact, it requires more work than most realize.

Celebrity publicist and owner of Divadends Entertainment, ChiQ Simms, agrees that being a publicist is no easy task “As a publicist, it is my job to ‘earn’ media coverage by supplying information that is factual, interesting, timely and newsworthy,” Simms says. One not-so-glamorous aspect of PR work is the issue of crisis management. According to Simms, a crisis is, “any situation that threatens the integrity or reputation of a brand and its executive team.” Issues such as a legal dispute, theft, an accident or domestic conflict and natural or manmade disasters are crisis, which may devalue a brand or its image. Even how a company acts or fails to respond appropriately to a situation can lead to crisis. Usually, a situation reaches crisis status because of adverse or negative media attention. For this reason, Simms notes that a good publicist will always create a standard crisis communication plan. “It is imperative that a crisis communication plan, a crisis management team and a company spokesperson are all a part of a company’s PR objectives,” Simms advised.

Through her Professional Public Relations (PPR 101) panel-oriented seminar, Simms collaborates with various entertainment media (print, online, TV, radio, bloggers, etc.) and PR professionals to help attendees understand how to garner national publicity as well as how to address crisis. After attending PPR 101, it is immediately clear that publicity is not automatic. It is also clear that PR should be managed independently from all other marketing functions. Says Simms, “I have to conduct countless behind-the-scenes conversations and build relationships that lay the ground work required to get a client’s message to the public-especially the media. It is an ongoing labor-intensive process.”

In addition to conducting research on a variety of media outlets (for example, the 2009 Writer’s Market lists 3,500 publications in the U.S. and Canada who hire journalists), publicists must repeatedly create or revise content and pitch coverage concepts before, during and after news happens. Publicists must also remain in a constant state of prospecting, even while managing a promotional event such as a celebrity red carpet, press junket, radio or TV interview. Idea or lead generation and high conversion of leads to preferred results is what gives each publicist their edge.

Today’s global society, blogging communities and technology (iPhone and GPhone) keep publicists and other marketing professionals on their toes. Easily out-numbered, the proven method for creating value through public relations is having a narrow message and being able to execute a detailed marketing plan.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that consistency and integrity balanced with timing are vital. With enough lead time, a schedule, a reasonable budget and a detailed brand-driven marketing strategy, which includes a solid communications plan, a publicist can build awareness, drive demand for a product and, subsequently, increase sales.