Breaking Bad: PR Tips for the PR Professional

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By Zach E. Hofstad
Austin TX

It’s no secret that every company and organization wants to be perceived as “successful.” But in what ways can we, as marketing and communications professionals, lend to a company’s success? How can we increase consumer engagement and profitability?

No matter the size of the company (we work with both startups and large corporations) large amounts of budget and focus is aimed toward reaching targeted customers and demographics. Pursuing efficient, dynamic and integrated PR and marketing strategies could be the kicker that pushes your efforts from good to great.

You may have a great product. You may have a great service. But if nobody knows about it, you are effectively losing potential profit. Effective PR and marketing includes taking deliberate and pointed actions to help disseminate your messaging to meet your business objectives.

For some companies, and in today’s digital age, social media has become the consumer engagement target of choice. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are all platforms designed for two-way engagement and interaction: promoting your organization, and affording customers the medium to provide feedback, ask questions or request more information. Building and properly managing corporate social media page increases brand visibility, which then drives uptick in page clicks, customer base and profitability.

But just as in physics, for every suggestion, there is an equal and opposite suggestion. Case in point – Mark Cuban (owner of the NBA team Dallas Mavericks and panelist on the ABC show Shark Tank) provides a warning for every social media user about the biggest mistakes a user can make. In an Inc. online segment, Mr. Cuban suggests that the biggest mistake people make on social media is letting their posts live forever. This applies to not only personal accounts, but professional and corporate pages as well. In this current age of “no filters,” everything you ‘retweet,’ ‘re-gram,’ ‘re-pin,’ or ‘re-post’ on social media reflects on who you are as a company and brand.  Cuban advocates for, what we’ll call “spring cleaning” of your social media pages. (This is true for employees as well.) Cuban also goes on to say if your company has a negative social media presence, you are automatically affiliated with other companies that are viewed in a negative light, resulting in limited business success. Cuban’s point resonates with us: to build, create and sustain momentum, companies must maintain a positive digital footprint.

Tip number 2: join the conversation online by building and regularly updating your blog. This is a good way to control and disseminate your message out to potential customers, investors, clients, etc. Having a blog on your website that is updated on a regular-basis that promotes your brand, explains what you do, explains why you do it, and provides details about your services serves as great free-of-charge publicity for you and your company.  Guest blogging has also proved to be quite effective, in the same way adding connections on LinkedIn expands your personal network reach. Be bold. Send story ideas about your company to bloggers that specifically write about those topics and ideas. Establishing relationships with industry bloggers can serve as a great networking and publicity source. Respected and relevant bloggers in your Rolodex are a great arrow in your organizational quiver.

Let’s talk about the questions that everyone practicing PR asks. Whether you are an in-house representative or an agency professional, the mainstream media is your target platform to best disseminate your messages and content. But certain questions can arise when you contact representatives of the media. “What happens when a reporter or editor does not respond to my pitch?” “How many follow-ups do I make then?” “Is the content I am providing them efficient enough?” A word of advice: do your homework, plant the seed, follow up once, wait it out, move on. Mark Twain, being Mark Twain, said it best: Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.

To conclude, PR and marketing can effectively boost your brand, consumer-base and profitability. Importantly, PR and marketing are your friends, and can not only save your company, but thrust it into success.

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