What is PR, and how can it help your brand or business?

A friend-turned-client recently said to me, "I know I need 'PR,' but what exactly does that mean and what does it entail?"

PR is a phrase that becomes synonymous with publicity, or the act of publicizing. While that is certainly part of what a PR professional does, it's not the entire story. 

As the name does suggest, public relations is all about relationships: building them with audiences, influencers, reporters, investors, community leaders, and more. This can be executed in a number of ways, from media outreach to blogging, and Instagramming to event planning. 

Its inclusivity is why FACTEUR PR has the name it does. Our four main services public relations, social media, content marketing, and digital creative – are all tied together with one string: people. And authentically connecting with those people (your target audiences) through those defined channels is the core of our mission, no matter the avenue. 

Authenticity versus advertising

That authenticity piece is very important, arguably more now than ever. (Have you watched the news lately?) While coverage isn't always a guarantee with PR, especially immediately, the slow build of awareness grows in tandem with your audience's trust something that cannot be bought with an advertisement. According to a study conducted by Nielsen,  "Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising."

This is not to discredit advertising, and yes, particularly when it comes to social story telling, buying impressions can help get your story to your target audience. But in the case of a lot of small or emerging businesses – and even well established ones!  advertising dollars are limited and arguably better spent building trust through developing and distributing your brand story through owned, shared, and earned media. 

Owning and sharing your story

Before social media, websites, blog, online videos, podcasting, etc., traditional media was the primary way of telling and sharing your story with a larger audience. Now, in the age of digital empowerment, brands can not only own that story on their own channels but also develop their target audiences with whom to share their story. This leads into content marketing, which depends on creating content like the types listed above to promote a brand, person, product, or story. Want to see content marketing in action? You're looking at it! I wrote this blog post, which is original content I created for the purpose of helping/educating/inspiring my readers, but also to position me as an expert in this subject. (Notice I'm not telling you I'm an expert, but I'm sharing my expertise.) 

By seeing me, the founder of FACTEUR PR, as someone with valuable insight into the world of marketing and public relations, you may decide to continue learning and engaging with me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or perhaps even want to work with me directly. (I hope you do!) This content marketing effort cost me nothing but my time. OK, and the price to host my website and blog on the internet. But ultimately it has allowed me to show instead of tell my story a lot more affordably than only through an advertisement.

Building credibility

That story sharing doesn't begin and end with your Instagram following. Media outlets often solicit story ideas via social media, and valuable content created for your owned channels can be pitched to media outlets, often garnering even more exposure for your business. Third-party coverage (provided it's positive!) also builds an important kind of credibility and extends beyond your current audience, customers, and clients, which in turn can boost yours. 

The ROI on PR is off the charts. When you think about all the places your story goes and the impact it has, you simply can’t afford to not invest in the discipline.
— Entrepreneur.com

Save time and money

Now, while creating and sharing content is usually more affordable than advertising, it doesn't always come for free. But oftentimes we have to spend a little money to make a little money, just as you need to spend time creating content and sharing content. As your business begins growing, you may very well find yourself lacking the time to do it all as you may have when first launching. More resources are dedicated to operations, providing services, creating products, and client relations. The idea of pausing to share all of these amazing developments may seem out of the question. But it's sharing those exciting developments with your audiences, media, and potential audiences that can also feed back into your business and grow it even more. So while dedicated public relations services are often an expense, it must be noted that it's certainly an investment  that returns. As shared in Entrepreneur"The ROI on PR is off the charts. When you think about all the places your story goes and the impact it has, you simply can’t afford to not invest in the discipline. Because it’s not something that can be hacked and requires tremendous patience to see the payoff, some companies tend to look at PR as an overhead expense. In reality PR should be seen as a profit center. From recruitment to SEO growth and business development, PR can serve as a catalyst that gets your brand in front of the right people as you scale your business."

In summary, paid media is still important (especially when it comes to amplifying your efforts via digital), but promoting your business through owned, shared, and earned media is going to offer you the opportunity to 1.) show, not just tell, your story, 2.) authentically connect with, engage, and grow your audiences (and ultimately your customer base), and 3.) be more affordable, getting more bang for your buck. However, it can take some patience to see the return on your investment, but that can be said about building a brand or business, as well. The journey and the destination are all a part of your story!


We hope this information is helpful! Sign up for our monthly email below to get more tips and ideas delivered straight to your inbox. And as always, please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to discuss how FACTEUR can help you and your business with public relations. 

Establish your brand: build a good website to make a good impression on your customers

Nobody can ignore the importance of social media and the influence it can have over your audience and potential audiences when you’re running a brand or business. However, the recurrent saying of “the web is dead” when it comes to the significance of having a website is not only shortsighted but potentially detrimental. I like to consider social media to be like the front door to your digital home, your website. Social media is often the first impression, so make it feel open and welcoming. And once people are inside, that’s when you can show off your fantastic hosting skills in your home that is well decorated and reflective of your business and vision. 

I could make flowery analogies all day, though, so let’s get to some actual reasons why your brand needs a professional website and URL (no dot wordpresses, please)!

1.) For those actively seeking out your business or ones like it online, a website is likely their first point of entry.

Search is critically important for most businesses. Your website appearing in search results will be of the utmost importance when it comes to clients or customers finding you. Building and launching your site and making sure to consistently update it using keywords and appropriate metadata (I know, this is a lot of SEO speak) will be worthwhile in helping people find you. You can also chip in a few dollars with Google AdWords to help with your search result ranking, too.

2.) And speaking of first impressions, a good website is a prime opportunity to make a great one. 

Therefore, make sure you spend the time and resources to be sure that your website accurately reflects your business mission and vision through its design and content, which help your consumers build trust. With content you own, like your website and the stories and imagery that appears on it, you have some control over that first impression. If you have a physical business location, you probably spent some energy and resources on making it look and feel good for you and for your consumers. With the possibility of reaching and influencing infinitely more people online than through your doors, it’s imperative to make your online experience feel good for you and your consumers, too. It may be the one impression they get. Make it a good one (and mobile-friendly!).

3.) Your website is yours: own it!

We’ve talked about the importance of e-mail marketing, mainly because you can “own” the e-mail subscriber list. With social media, everyone is just renting space. In addition to owning email, pointing your subscribers to your website, and offering educational and inspirational content on your website, you control what your audience sees and reads. You can’t quite do that with social media. Our Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter feeds are a battle for attention, and as such, increasingly becoming a pay-to-play space. 

4.) Websites can always be open for business.

Unlike a physical business, your website is always open. So why not use it to sell 24/7? Whether it’s products or services, your website is sacred sales ground. Make sure your contact information is easily accessible, your inventory is accurate, your sales copy is on-point, and your information is up-to-date. Frequent updates helps with SEO, too. 

5.) Get to know your audience: your visitors, consumers, and clients

How often do you check your Google Analytics? Do you have Google Analytics? If not, I can’t stress the importance enough of installing and reviewing your analytics on at least a weekly basis. You can dig into how people are finding your website, what pages they are most visiting, how much time they are spending on your site, where they’re coming from, what other interests appeal to them, and so much more. It’s an inside-look into your audience behaviors and interests that can help drive your social media strategy, content marketing plan, direct-mail strategy, and more. And if you’re selling or intending to sell advertising on your website if you’re a blogger, that data is a must-include for your media kit. 

We truly believe and have found in our work and our client's work that building and maintaining a website is so important when marketing and growing your brand or business. We hope this information is helpful! Sign up for our monthly email below to get more tips and ideas delivered straight to your inbox. And as always, please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to discuss how FACTEUR can help you and your business with creating a beautiful, informational, and easily maintainable website. We'd love to work with you.

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Photo courtesy of BluChic.

E-mail is not dead: why you need to build a list to build your brand or business

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It was a hot and muggy spring day in New York City, and I was sitting in a conference room at Columbia Records during a marketing meeting. Our VP of digital marketing was talking about social media -- then in its early days -- acknowledging its significance to the online marketing scene. Thinking the meeting was going to stress the importance of utilizing Facebook and MySpace (yeah, it was that back in that day), I was surprised to hear a different message: "I want e-mail addresses," she said. "Nothing is more important than those e-mail addresses. Not Facebook fans, not MySpace fans." 

It's been 10 years since that meeting, and her words have stayed with me since. As a more experienced marketer now, I too believe that building an e-mail list is one of the most valuable assets you can have as a business. While undoubtedly social media can help you reach audiences, having a customer or potential customer's e-mail address gives you an opportunity to truly connect with people. You can go straight to them instead of asking them to come to you.

Five more reasons why you need to build an e-mail list as a brand or business:

1.) Not everyone uses social media, but almost everyone that has access uses e-mail.

There are roughly two billion social media accounts in the world. There are more than double that number of e-mail accounts. To even sign up for a social media account, you need to have an e-mail address. Get that e-mail address (and ideally, that social media follower, too!) and you have more opportunity to reach your target audience so long as they stay subscribes!

2.) Directly connect with your audience.

I'll be real with you. You probably don't need an e-mail list if you are not monetizing your website or blog. But if you have something to offer, e-mail can be immensely effective with reaching and converting consumers. It's more personal than social media, and it helps tell your story consistently and directly with your audience. Social media is increasingly becoming more pay-to-play in terms of your reaching your audiences with your content. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest have altered their algorithms in an effort to force brands and businesses to pay for impressions that once were free. According to a study shared by Business Insider, more than 98% of people with e-mail check it at least once a day. Get in their inbox and get noticed.

3.) Educate your customers.

E-mail lists are not all about selling to your subscribers. It's also about educating them. As part of your marketing strategy, I hope that you're producing owned content and shared content that is valuable to your audiences and your consumers. Maybe that looks like blogging, podcasting, captioning, photographing, e-booking, or something completely different to you. You can keep your most tuned-in audience up-to-date and informed about your product or service, sharing your expertise with them along the way, via e-newsletters. This helps to build trust, which is vital to conversions. It also helps keep your subscribers subscribed if you're sharing valuable information with them regularly. 

4.) Your e-mail list is just that...yours.

It hit me at a conference workshop a few years back. Twitter was not working, and everyone started to panic. "How am I supposed to live-tweet this session?!" Sound familiar? Social media is communication, but it uses technology to operate. Most significantly, this technology does not belong to you. Facebook could be hacked and crash tomorrow. Instagram can freak out and delete all of your followers. Twitter can be down for hours during your scheduled Periscope broadcast. And remember MySpace? Nothing is forever, and you can't back up your social media accounts to a cloud or to a hard drive. At the end of the day, our control over our precious social media channels is not owned by us. Your e-mail list, however, is in fact yours - just remember to consistently back it up! 

5.) The analytics are valuable.

If you're using an e-mail client like MailChimp or Constant Contact, you'll have access to not only analytics regarding your own e-mail communications, but comparisons to similar market e-mail trends, as well. Insights are extremely valuable to fueling your strategy moving forward, and a great way to experiment, as well. Why not do a little A/B testing with your subject lines, like comparing a couple to see which has the best open-rate? If one message works significantly better than another, or one content type was clicked on more than a different content type, use that data to help drive your decisions about communications and marketing in other areas of your business.

"So, wait, is social media not that important?" you may be wondering.
No way! Social media is critical to almost every business' marketing strategy, but we can't forget the importance of integrating e-mail and content marketing, as well. Together, you'll have greater impact.

We hope you found this post helpful, and if you'd like to learn more about how to build an e-mail list, get your e-mail newsletter set-up, or develop a documented content marketing strategy, get in touch!