I’ve worked in the field of public relations for a few years now, both in Israel and the U.S. I have worked with some of the smallest tech startups, to large multi-billion dollar publicly traded corporations. I also happen to work in one of the most undervalued professions in the world, as most don’t understand the value in PR, but recognize the need for it and have the potential to be quite savvy at it as well.
Case and point: the Apple/FBI kerfuffle. Remember it, right? If not, I’ll refresh your memory quickly. The FBI asked Apple to unlock the iPhone of a suspected terrorist. The company continually refused to do so, publicly addressing the issue by issuing a press release on why they would not unlock the device, citing the potential to compromise Apple product user’s privacy as its primary for ‘non-compliance.’
Whether you agree with Apple or not, you have to admit one thing: they stuck to their guns the entire time and stood up to the “man” as it were. The company took to key stakeholders and brand loyalists alike, asking what mattered most to them. The vote was unanimous. In the end, Apple won in the court of public opinion, with 46 percent of Americans saying they supported Apple’s position, 36 percent siding with the FBI and another 20 percent who remained undecided.
This leads me to leverage your PR victories, just as Apple did. The company was consistent with its messaging throughout the ordeal. They too stayed ahead of the news by releasing a statement and utilizing social media to further spread awareness and communicate through CEO and company profiles. The company remained committed to reiterating its key messages, which stressed the importance of respecting Apple users privacy.
Along those lines, I have three simple tips designed to help companies own and leverage their PR efforts.
First, it’s important to let people know what your company is doing. Share your news. Be it through a wire service, earned media efforts or sponsored content on the web, let your audience know the good things your company is doing to make a difference. If your company isn’t spreading its love through corporate social responsibility, it’s time to find a cause that’s supported by your company’s mission, be genuine, and support it. There is a tremendous amount of value in this.
Also consider creating a graphically appealing and informative press kit that includes: fast facts on your company, executive bios, product photos and financial stats (if you’re a publicly-traded company or a non-profit organization). Something like this one, and be sure to host it on your site.
Some companies even make video press kits to distribute to potential advertisers, investors or a reporter breaking your company’s $20 million funding announcement.
I’m sure your company has done something newsworthy or worthy of an award. Or maybe your CEO has a super impressive background / track record. Perhaps he’s simply a well-polished speaker. No matter the case, you should apply for awards and speaking opportunities.
Even if you don’t win, you’re showing the competition you can compete with them. You’ll also earn some serious face time with key stakeholders in your industry, like potential investors or members of the media. This could lead to write ups about your company, which is worth far more than your company’s marketing and promotional materials could say, as it comes from an unbiased and well-vetted source.
If your company does it, there’s likely an industry award out there to support it.
As a millennial and PR pro, of course my final tip has to do with social media, as it is one of the strongest tools for your brand if used properly. Plus it’s free. Be sure your CEO is active on social media, tweeting, posting, sharing and joining in on industry-relevant conversations. My last point about social media: although CRM companies can be great, make sure there’s some personalization going into social media responses.
It is also important to secure byline opportunity and establish your leadership as thought leaders in your respective space, as this helps build credibility not only for the company, but for the CEO as well. When you can accomplish both, you’re likely on track to owning your PR efforts and truly leveraging them to the fullest.
Remember, public relations is cyclical, constantly evolving, and revolving. It’s not a one-off stunt you can execute for three months and assume your issues will go away. PR takes time to fully manifest. In the end, things do typically come together, and if they don’t, well, you fix them of course.
Moshe Beauford is a public relations professional, violinist, craft beer and whiskey aficionado, world traveler, Zionist, foodie / advocate for the eating of delicious meat. You can keep up with him on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.