Five PR strategies for success

October 23, 2008, 3:24 pm Jennifer Black KBB

Public relations is the art of constructing a visible reality in the minds of your target audience.

Public relations has an effect on you daily, believe it or not.  Public Relations (PR) is the practice of promoting your business, yourself, your products or services to a specific audience. It is the art of constructing a visible reality in the minds of your key stakeholders or target audience.

The Public relations umbrella covers a number of associated activities, all of which are concerned with communicating specific messages to specific target audiences.  This typically covers; research, publicity, community relations, government relations, internal relations, investor relations, stakeholder relations, charitable causes and media/ communications training.

It is also about appearances (image) of a person or organisation. It may be a reflection of the businesses core values represented by the individual or it may be created by a business. Public Relations strategies are utilised everyday across the globe in a multitude of industries including; product launches and promotion, issues management, brand awareness, profile building, media training and to boost the popularity of celebrities and sportsmen.

Here are a few strategies to take your ‘brand’ to the next level:
You only have one chance to make a first good impression.  Believe it or not but in the first 5 seconds, your image influences the people you meet.  Within the first 30 seconds people will start to form opinions about you, based on what they see, hear and sense. It is that impression they make, which often lasts a lifetime. Whether you are a business or person your Image alone speaks volumes.  Here are some tips to ensure you always have your best foot forward:

For corporations and people or other organisations, image can affect the financial bottom line.  Fortune magazine’s annual ranking of most admired companies has found a correlation between a company’s reputation and its profits.  Not surprisingly, the most admired companies have higher financial returns than the least admired.  The following benefits have been identified for businesses which have a good reputation:
•  Increasing market share
•  Lowering market costs
•  Ability to charge a premium
•  Avoiding over-regulation
•  Being able to weather bad times
•  Greater employee alignment and productivity
•  Ability to attract and retain talent
•  Ease of attracting investors
•  Achieve more favourable media coverage

Your ‘brand’ is the essence or core meaning of your business.  Ensure you know what this is and follow it through consistently.  It will distinguish your products and services from that of another business.  Invest some time and energy in the image of your employees.  They are after all an asset and how they are perceived externally will have an impact on your business.  Ensure everyone is aware of the dress code policy, and possibly go one step further with a short induction on image, grooming and office etiquette.

Your key spokesperson(s) will be ‘the business’ so it is imperative who ever this is they are formally trained in; image, media, communications and public speaking.

Believe it or not but in the first 5 seconds, your image influences the people you meet.  Within the first 30 seconds people will make judgments about you, based on what they see, hear and sense. It is that impression they make, which often lasts a lifetime.  Your image tells the world who you are and where you are going.  
•  Adapt your wardrobe for the occasion. Update your wardrobe annually. Choose colours
   and styles that flatter your figure and skin colour. Be comfortable with what you are
   wearing and ensure that it fits you appropriately.
•  Your shoes define you as much as what you wear so make certain these are maintained,
   comfortable and are coordinated to your work attire.
•  Grooming is an important component to your image – hair should be tidy, skin taken care
   of with a good regime based on your skin type and your nails clean and neat.
•  There is also non-verbal communication (handshake, posture, gestures, eye contact)
   which should be considered.  Reading other people’s non-verbal cues can help you in
   your business and personal life.
•  Attempt to practice good business communication and etiquette at all times. This will
   boost your confidence, competence and likeability with colleagues as well as clients.
   If you project an image of success and confidence, people will be more inclined to believe
   that you are successful and confident.

2.Corporate communication
All of your corporate communication should reflect the vision, values and branding of your business.  All corporate logos, colours, and details should be consistent and uniform throughout the business.  It should be accurate, error-free, and clear. This means internal as well as external.  If using e-mail, ensure the appropriate auto signature is attached.   Do not change colours or sizing of corporate logos and ensure you communicate this as part of your policy to staff.

3.Effective networking
As mentioned earlier, initial impressions are important.  They not only make or break a deal but it also sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. To make a powerful first impression while networking, consider in advance what you will say about yourself and the business which you represent. Practice and visualise this in different circumstances.  Equally important to how you present yourself and the interest you show in the people you are speaking to. Act interested in what your companions are saying. Remember their names. Treat everyone like an important client. And follow-up conversations with an e-mail - sent within 24 hours of the meeting.

4.Delivering presentations
The key to delivering powerful presentations is preparation. Practice, practice, practice.  Ensure you have done your research and know your facts.  When planning and preparing for a presentation or meeting it's important for you to identify your key messages and be concise and clear. Always try and start with a great opening line to capture your audience’s attention and end leaving them something to think about. 

5.Market your Brand
There are many ways in which to market your brand, or create brand awareness.  The first step is to clearly identify your target market.  In many cases this would generally fall into 2 categories; existing clients and potential clients. Be definite about who your target clients would be - specify the industries, geographic location, size, and financial factors.  The next step is to concentrate on the items you already have, this might be your website, planned functions/ events. Set a budget, and then start a campaign, initially with a six to twelve month view.