Guest post on public relations, something I think can really help a business grow. I’ve seen it in action. Enjoy! -TW
Public Relations For Entrepreneurs
Contrary to what my mom believes, public relations is not serving food at the neighborhood bar, working retail at the mall or being a stripper (no joke, a local men’s club once advertised topless dancing jobs as public relations).
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) website, “public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” Marketing focuses more on the product and services itself, while public relations works to establish a solid reputation for an organization and influence opinion through truthful education (not manipulation and lies).
Not really apples and oranges, but enough of a difference to need a strategic PR plan for your business.
My favorite definition of public relations comes from my first college PR class: public relations is managed communications between an organization and its publics. Let’s break this down.
Managed: You control the message and format of the content released. The message is consistent with your business story and presents your business in a positive, proactive, authentic and truthful light.
Communications: There are numerous forms of communication, from press releases, brochures, websites, advertising and sales letters to speeches, social media, events and everything in between. Anything that can be used to connect with someone else can be considered a form of communication.
Publics: Repeat after me- there is no such thing as the general public. You are not trying to reach the whole world. Really. Your public’s are those groups you need to reach; those clusters of likeminded people who you are trying to influence. It could be potential clients, current customers, media, elected officials, school teachers, union groups or any other target group. Your public’s will be different from your markets, which will be different from your audiences in advertising.
To develop a public relations plan for your business, you first need to identify your publics, then determine what you want them to do (or believe) and, finally, decide which communication vehicles are the most appropriate to deliver that message. For example:
Public: Elected Officials
Objective: Vote in support of legislation that protects clean air in Tennessee
Communication: Federal report on the dangers of dirty air; face-to-face meetings to discuss current legislation; letters from three well-respected scientist that backs up our stance; organize phone-in day where dozens of people call their legislators to ask for their support.
This is a very simple beginnings of a public relations plan. I challenge you to take your top two or three publics and create a plan of strategic communications for each group. You will be amazed at the results.
Kristina Shands is the owner of Authentic Communications, a communications and marketing firm specializing in telling stories that move people to action. Authentic Communications collaborates with small businesses and entrepreneurs to spark interest, create a buzz, build connections, increase loyalty and inspire action in order to attract new clients and increase visibility. Contact Kristina at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.authentic-communications.com