A successfully executed public relations program can result in significant growth for your company. If some of your company goals include penetrating and gaining market awareness for a product or service, or influencing your market by developing, building and maintaining a positive reputation, chances are good you need a PR program. But before you go off half-cocked, first you need to perform an in-depth company analysis to determine if your company is PR “relevant”. Here are some general guidelines toward the discovery process.
The first step is in understanding your company’s basic profile and current situation. Are you a start-up with a promising vision that no-one knows about? I remind my clients all the time, “you can have the greatest product or services in the world, but if no one knows about it, how can you succeed?” Or are you an established organization, but growth is stagnating or declining as more companies saturate your market and you struggle to differentiate? You should summarize in writing your current situations, challenges and goals. Though cliché, the old adage you must understand where you are, and where you’ve been, to understand where you’re going, is applicable here.
The second step is in understanding your company’s core competencies. What need are you meeting in the market? Identify the benefits of the products and services you offer to your customers, especially over your competitors, so that you can drill down on what we call in the marketing profession, your company’s unique selling proposition (USP), a term developed in the 1940’s by television advertising pioneer, Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates and Company. You must be able to answer with certainty, who is your target customer? What do they value? What do they need to know about your company? And more importantly, why should they care? What is the benefit to them? And what motivates them? Does your company support your customers’ attitudes, values and beliefs? And though this may seem more like a psychological analysis, that’s intentional, because your grasp of consumer demand and behavior is a critical component in whether you develop the right strategy for not only a PR program, but your entire business model.
From a PR perspective, it’s about crafting a unique and compelling story about your company, products and services. And this task is not done with equal ease across all industries. Some industries are inherently more suited to public relations. For instance, anytime I can get in on the ground floor with a tech start-up company, I get excited, because I know that they are going to be working on something new or innovative, and that’s nearly always going to be of interest to the media, and so a more natural fit for many PR program tactics. However, you don’t have to be a tech company to have a successful PR program. What you do need, is to understand how to craft a compelling story about your company, including your company culture, core competencies, unique selling proposition, and the future of your industry. And here’s the critical part, as it relates to your customers. If you are not able to get past the basic litmus test by answering the question, “What makes my company unique?” that is a big red flag your business model is obsolete, and you should first focus on the business development that will help your company become more viable, before you ever think about a PR program.
Once you have performed the necessary business analysis, and have determined your company is indeed PR relevant, the third step is to determine if your company is qualified to execute a successful PR program. If you are a small business, chances are, you do not have the time or expert resources in-house, and so you will need to outsource the PR talent that can develop and manage your company’s PR program. The outsourcing of PR is trending as more small businesses are realizing outsourcing is usually more cost and results effective than trying to do it in-house. From development of the right strategy to execution and implementation, your PR program results should match your company’s growth objectives, and should be maximized to extend to the company’s overall marketing and sales cycle, where they often have the most valuable impact.