The reputation of your company is your most important asset. How the public perceives you and your brand will make or break you. You must have a positive presence and maintain goodwill between your company and your public. That reputation, positive presence, and sense of goodwill is the creation of your public relations team.
PR is defined as whatever strategic communication process your company uses that creates and maintains your image in the eyes of your customers, clients, staff, and the general public. This perception is far-reaching and affects your relationships with your investors and colleagues. Even if your company has a good reputation, that does you little good if no one knows about it.
A bad reputation can be a PR nightmare for you. Even if you have the best product since sliced bread, buyers will go elsewhere if they perceive you as less than sincere, unconcerned, or with poor service. An investor will think twice about funding you if your company has a bad reputation.
A Cultural Problem Too
Good public relations is critical, but the problem becomes more complex as there is more than one “public” – especially if you want to sell your product to different cultural groups within the US or globally.This is one area where most small businesses fall short. But, even big businesses have made huge mistakes by not considering all of their “publics.” An example would be Gerber baby food, made by Nestles.
When Gerber started selling their baby food in certain African markets, they sent the same food, with the same labels as they use in the United States and other countries. It was good with the investors, it was good with corporate, it was good with everyone that had a hand in making, selling, and shipping the product.
However, the sales numbers were very disappointing. Gerber failed to consider the parents who would be buying the food. Rates of illiteracy in some parts of Africa are high. Unable to read the words on the jars, some consumers apparently mistook the picture of the cute baby on the front as indicative of what was inside (ground-up babies.) If the company had done appropriate research, they would have known what pictures of the ingredients on the front. In any case, the baby food did not sell.
There is debate as to whether this story, widely reported in credible sources, is the truth or an urban legend, but the case points out the importance of knowing your audience and knowing how to keep your reputation intact with them Public relation teams must use research to effectively (and sensitively) reach the target audience.
Working With Your PR Team
Public relations professionals need all of the information about the goals of your marketing campaign and who your company wants to reach. Your PR people can only do their jobs once they have the information. They are professionals at reaching target audiences. They do their homework and know what avenues to pursue. In most companies, PR departments are not usually responsible for doing market research, but they should receive the results of studies, surveys, focus groups and other research techniques and take the results to heart in planning their approaches.
Keep in mind, public relations is most effective when it is working with your marketing team. PR must effectively communicate your brand, its value, and what it offers in a bold, effective, but culturally sensitive way. Communication throughout the departments is important so that everyone paddles the boat in the same direction to build your brand and good customer relations.
Public Relations Coverage
PR pros skillfully place your company out there for maximum exposure and maximum impact. They may use newspapers, magazines, television, radio, social media, and a host of other tools, both paid and unpaid. Work with your PR team to get your reputation and presence out there. You hire them for their expertise, let them use it. But, don’t hesitate to ask them what they are planning and what results they expect from their actions.
It is your company. Hire a good public relations company to create your reputation in the public eye. Put a good team in place to carry the message throughout the other brand-building departments in the company. This is a recipe for success.
Bonus Tip: Social Media
As the power of social media platforms continue taking over, several resources discuss combining the power of PR with reach, using tactics like Instagram marketing. Here is a resource on how to get more followers on Instagram to get you started.