The best marketing and PR strategies are carefully crafted to communicate a small number of core messages, and to then reinforce those messages by repetition.The fact is that, once upon a time, it used to be that people needed products to survive – a loaf of bread, some vegetables, a bit of meat. Now, it’s the other way around. Products need people to survive. In a business context, and in a market economy, companies need customers to survive – in other words, marketing and sales. So far, so obvious. Less obvious is that the marketing and PR landscape has changed out of all recognition, with the internet and social media adding a multitude of new promotional dimensions. The need for integrated PR strategies has never been greater.
Here are some thoughts on building a successful PR strategy. Objectives The longest journeys start with the first step. However, you also don’t set out on a journey without knowing where you want to go. That’s the first rule of marketing and PR: defining what you want to achieve, on a quarterly basis – whether that’s to develop the brand, position the company with its buying markets, drive traffic to your website or generate enquiries. Clear objectives give you something to aim for, measure success, and better determine what could be done better. Strategy Strategy is the glue that binds everything together. It defines an overall approach, rather than the nuts and bolts. Clear objectives provide the finishing line; strategy is broadly how you intend to reach it. A good strategy will articulate brand and corporate personality, ethics and values – in other words a cohesive framework within which marketing tactics easily fit. Messages The central element in any successful marketing strategy is information. We need to provide potential customers with the essential facts to buy our product rather than someone else’s. Yet that’s precisely the central element that a great many firms fail to recognise in devising marketing or promotional campaigns. The information that customers need to make that buying decision is confused by poor messaging or corporate techno-babble. Indeed, some firms’ corporate communications are so full of technical information to be impenetrable. Time after time, I see corporate literature or websites that convey huge amounts of information that the firm thinks it should communicate – but not the essential information that the potential customer wants to hear. Strategy + messages = content In the buyer-led world, content is king. You need to attract the right customers and lead them through each stage of the sales cycle. Creating that great content and placing it where buyers are looking doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a good content strategy, research and expertise – and making sure you show up on search engines. By aligning your published content with your potential customers’ needs, you will naturally attract inbound traffic that you can convert. It merely involves distilling key facts and figures and promoting corporate and product information online and offline in ways that potential customers will find digestible. Integration Social media and the internet have allowed for a new kind of information flow, one in which we can all participate – from creating a regular blog to posting on Facebook, publishing video content on YouTube or sharing images on Instagram – not to mention Twitter, Google+ and rest of the social media universe. It’s a new kind of information democracy in which we are all publishers. It has allowed us to replace old outbound “push” marketing with inbound marketing to pull people towards our companies. That takes great content that is appropriate to your customers and a well-crafted PR strategy to ensure consistency of tone and content across platforms. The absolute need for integration has never been greater. Do you have an integrated PR strategy? Charlie Laidlaw is a director of David Gray PR and a partner in Laidlaw Westmacott.
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