The following is a guest post by Jennifer Hall, HallCASTER Business Communications
You’ve launched your company, perfected the product (nearly), grown sales, and perhaps have even brought in some funding. It’s time to take things to the next level, to bring in the professionals who can help get the word out — the PR team. Hold up . . . Before jumping in, make sure you understand what exactly it is that you want.
Unfortunately, many startups make the mistake of not thinking long term about their communications. In their minds, “PR” means “press,” when in reality media relations is just one aspect of public relations (not the whole shebang), and it will have limited value if it’s not being used to proactively support your overall communications strategy.
This is something public relations professionals have been telling clients for years — the challenge is getting them to believe it. Why is it that folks are willing to invest thousands . . . wait, hundreds of thousands . . . into building product, but they don’t want to invest a fraction of that into talking about it?
Here’s the problem: What happens, when you get a great article that drives thousands to your site, but the messaging on your homepage doesn’t match what’s being written about you —wasted opportunity. Remember, PR is not just about stories. It’s a much bigger picture.
Perhaps most tech companies and entrepreneurs — heck, even most established companies — don’t think about PR with a bigger perspective because they want to see a direct line from their investment to something they can “show” (meaning that coveted article) and they want it right away — and by right away, we mean yesterday. PR, though, has never been about the quick reward. It’s a slow, steady build that in the end will pay off for those who are patient and committed to all aspects of the program, not just press coverage.
An effective public relations program is aimed at fostering engagement and building relationships with your target audiences and it crosses multiple platforms. And that takes time and investment. What’s more, the results you receive from a media relations campaign will have a far greater impact on your business if you take the time to ensure that your company’s messaging is consistent across these various channels.
Case in point, that feature story on your company is a great win from a PR perspective and may initially drive traffic to your website, but it’s unlikely to coincide with a significant spike in online sales if visitors find your site uninviting or the messaging confusing or even contradictory. Worse, these new visitors may find the experience so frustrating that they decide not to return. On the other hand, web pages that have simple, direct and brand-consistent messages, are user-friendly and make prolific use of key words that customers use in online searches to find your products or services will work synergistically with the media coverage you obtain to help increase sales, enhance your brand, and of course, optimize your company’s SEO.
Your company’s website is a simple example, but it illustrates how we encourage companies to work closely with their PR professional to be sure the basic communications tools are solidly in place before launching an involved media relations campaign.
Here’s some advice: Don’t think about “PR” until you can think about the big picture, and that includes more than just media relations. And, use your PR people to help you strengthen your brand message everywhere . . . because everywhere matters these days.