When we ask the question ‘what kind of businesses benefit from PR?’, we are making certain assumptions that organisations fit neatly into boxes.
It is presumed that those most likely to benefit will sell products direct to consumers or have huge budgets to invest. The good news is that neither of these are strictly true.
Companies or all sizes and sectors can benefit from PR. They could be business to consumer, business to business or third sector. The trick is to make sure that the strategy behind the schedule of activity and tactics chosen will deliver against objectives.
We’ve said it before, and we will say it again; businesses must set clear objectives if they are to secure the return on investment they expect from PR. Without targets in place, agencies have nothing to compare results against. There is no benchmark of good or bad, success or failure.
Any organisation that is going to spend the time and money required to implement an effective PR strategy should start with what they want to achieve. Irrelevant of sector or target audience, there needs to be some clarity when it comes to what constitutes an outcome to be celebrated.
It is true that some sectors have embraced PR with open arms, seeing the benefits that it delivers. Take FMCG (fast moving consumer goods). Many brands within this marketplace will implement a PR strategy from launch. They will also benefit from the results that this delivers long beyond.
The argument is that these businesses have a captive audience and often a mass market to communicate with. Perhaps this is the case, however they have also recognised the benefits that can be achieved through PR. This is the first step to setting strong foundations for any brand.
In contrast, consider manufacturing. This is huge and varied industry. Whatever the company is making, in my experience too many businesses are missing out by believing that PR will add no value.
Far too frequently, I hear people say that their audience wouldn’t be interested or that their products are too niche.
This is where PR is underestimated. As a specialism that is used to communicate, it can also be used to target many different audiences. This may be internal colleagues, stakeholders, investors, board members or future talent.
Remembering to communicate effectively with those that matter to a business most should never be over-looked.
When it doesn’t work
We work across a range of sectors from retail to print, confectionery to third sector. We have always said that if we couldn’t deliver for a business, we would let them know. There is no point in taking on a brief that isn’t going to work. Worst still, taking someone’s money knowing you will deliver no results.
In eleven years, I can count on one hand the number of times we have had to have this conversation. It isn’t because PR wouldn’t work, but because the approach or tactics the client wanted to use didn’t fit with our recommendations.
There are so many different tactics you can choose when you work in PR. As well as being a blessing this can be a challenge. It is our job to use those that will deliver a consistent return but there are occasions when a brand will want to do things their way.
All we can do is offer honest advice and that’s what we do.
Getting the tactics right
With a toolkit of tactics, we are in a very fortunate position to be able to curate a campaign that is specific to each client. There is no one-size-fits-all in PR. We have to think long and hard about what we can do to make the brands we work with stand out from the crowd.
Thanks to experience, we are able to do this. We work with our clients to make sure they get the very best value – and consistent results – from the campaigns and year-round programmes we deliver.
It may be a press office, which ensures these brands are featured regularly in the news. It could be shared content that reiterates expertise and builds trust. It might be social media posts that engage with a specific audience and build a community. Or, all of the above and more!
Relying on experts will make life easier and results quicker. There is always an element of test and measure with PR. Knowing you can change approach at any time limits risk, which is a further benefit to PR.
Making the most of what you have
PR is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools there is. That isn’t to say it is ‘cheap’ or easy. The truth is that it takes time, and time is money. However, when you get it right the results will have a positive impact on your business and its bottom line.
Building profile, securing coverage, increasing online presence, managing a crisis, preparing for a product launch, consistently communicating with customers – these all fit under the umbrella of PR.
As a business, when I look at where we will invest, I consider the impact that product or service will deliver. Should other companies do the same when it comes to PR, I am sure that many more brands would be benefitting. Whatever sector, I am confident that most organisations would benefit from PR.
It is a specialism that should be taken as seriously as finance. PR is still about managing the reputation of a brand and business. Arguably, the most valuable asset of any organisation. If ever there was a more significant reason to consider PR, this has to be it.
For further information about how we work with businesses of all sizes to deliver against their objectives please contact Open Communications on tel. 01924 862477.