Red Fan Communications: How PR Affects Branding

Red Fan Communications: How PR Affects Branding

At Red Fan Communications, it’s our job to understand how consumers are influenced every day by social media, websites, news stories and product reviews. Once your brand is out in the open the public is weighing in. If you aren't proactively telling your story and managing your brand reputation others will tell your story for you.

The necessity to have an informed PR team working for your brand is growing in importance as information sources become ubiquitous. One negative review poorly responded to can take a company down while a positive review by the right tastemaker can send your brand skyrocketing.

Today, smart companies are seeking PR agencies that manage much more than hits in the press. While press coverage, or keeping companies out of the press, is at the center of what all PR agencies do, it is only one aspect of what we can and should do. From social media to strategic partnerships, events and ongoing press strategies, the best agencies are serving up integrated campaigns that keep your brand consistently front and center while mapping to viable business goals.

A quick scan of Red Fan’s office makes a pretty good case for careful brand management. My computer purchase was due to a good review in a credible magazine, delaying purchase of a new iPhone was also the result of reviews and consumer opinions. The nonprofit event I'm going to this week is the result of positive PR and testimonials from people I trust, and yes, the restaurant I'm going to Wednesday evening is thanks to rave reviews in four publications and confirmations from consumer reviews. All of these things happened as a result of a PR effort. Granted the products are good and worthy of promotion, but the messaging hit key audiences thanks to PR strategists working closely with the business to hit the overall business goals.

Crunching numbers on readership and reach and comparing that to the value of an ad buy is one way that PR agencies demonstrate the value of media relations. But it's not a pure science, and it isn't very satisfying as a standalone measurement. Measuring the overall investment in PR isn't easy and yet it's very evident if you establish the value you are looking for upfront and then activate a few smart PR tactics.

Are you building a brand name and reputation?

If you are, you need the right messaging, a compelling company storyline and value proposition, and the right branding. Then you need ways to showcase this across all platforms: website, packaging, social media, events and partnerships. All of these elements should be in place before you seek media attention, and the best agencies will help you validate this before they put you in front of a reporter.

Are you keeping your competition at bay in the press, and are you holding your own?

You not only need to worry about getting announcements out when the time is right, you also need a target set of reporters. You need to know the press relationships your competitors are keeping and you need to be out there. If you're a startup and have clientele, you need to defend your niche. By not being in round-up articles or mentioned as a thought leader by key press, you are essentially forfeiting your territory to your competitors and leaving the perception that they reign. The problem is once you are ready your perception seat may be filled. It's time to get a thought-leadership campaign in place and keep that drumbeat going. You have roundups, byline articles, blogs, social media, conference panels and so much more to be part of.

Are you taking your PR agency up on the smart press, publisher, analyst and strategic partnerships meetings they are presenting?

You're going to grow your reputation through relationships and that's true with the press on both the editorial side and the advertising side. If you want to know about the speaking engagements, the events and special advertising opportunities first then you should be taking that meeting with the publisher that your team set up for you. It's about the long-term relationship whether you have ad dollars to spend or not. It's about being on the radar and being remembered when they need a speaker or panelist at their next event. The press controls the stories that will be told. Building relationships with reporters, knowing what they are writing, their opinion about your niche and the players in it are key.

Are you pinpointing the movers and shakers in your target market?

Every market has movers and shakers and more than ever today's technology tools are empowering PR professionals to narrow in on the bloggers and pundits that matter. The key is to turn these tastemakers and influencers into fans of your brand. Your PR agency can help you establish these relationships so your brand is introduced and loved in the communities you want to be a part of most.

Does your sales force know what you are doing and why?

One of the best ways to measure the impact PR has on sales is to make sure they are leveraging the results of your PR efforts and collaborating to hit the goals. Everybody wins when an article in a publication produces a lead that turns into a sale. Or when the sales force is targeting a big client, wouldn't it be great to have an article come out in that market that reinforces why you are the right choice? Better yet are you sharing the byline articles and big hits with the sales force in a timely manner so they can be sharing them with clients? Are you posting these on social media for easy sharing? An article sent to the right client with the right cover letter can make a big difference, and doing so extends the life and value of the press coverage.

You have a following, but what are you learning?

So you have 75,000 followers on social media, but you know nothing about them. Use this group wisely by creating surveys to learn more about them, where they live, what they do and why they follow your brand. We encounter brands that are banging their heads against a wall trying to figure out why their sales are down in a given market when they have the power to learn a lot through their social media channels.

With reliable consumer insights, Red Fan can engage the target consumer and create the buzz desired, but it takes a coordinated effort. And while an article can send thousands of customers to your website or store, the real power is in understanding why one media outlet produces that result while another raises the brand value through a segment on Good Morning America. The best PR is rolling thunder. It's building ongoing and trusted relationships with key media and pundits, it's keeping your brand relevant and keeping consumers engaged in ways that support your business goals and allow your team to stay focused on the business.

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