Creating a positive and engaging brand is different than in the old, one-way communications flow of press releases and pitches. The good news is there are more ways to engage, the challenge is you must stay on your toes and on top of the innovations and opportunity to connect in the realm of PR. Think of current PR as the new improved version of communications, the 2.0 version of your public relations strategy!
Show Up and Engage
Two-way engagement is key for today’s PR strategy. Consumers feel more connected to your brand when they know real humans are not only behind it but care about them. They want to be seen as individuals rather than a marketing target. Through empathizing with customers, you show that you care about them, while showing what your brand is all about. An important way to help with humanize your brand is to establish core values for your company and lead based on those core values. Crackerjack Marketing explains, “People respond to people – it’s that simple. Steer away from the robotic marketing tactics and instead focus on being relatable, interesting, and most importantly, relatable. Have you ever visited a blog and noticed that an “admin” created all of their posts? Who is this “admin” you speak of and do they have a name? Appearing mysterious is just not going to work in your favor in this scenario. Your audience not only wants to understand the “why” behind what your brand is doing, but they also want to get to know your brand itself and the people behind it.” Everything done in the company should be in line with those values, including your PR.
Two-way communications is the heart of strategic PR. One great example of this is reviews. Positive reviews are important for your business; too many bad reviews will turn customers away, as we know. Podium explains, “84% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends as long as they meet certain criteria like authenticity, being in the right industry, and having multiple reviews on the same site.” You should never fabricate reviews or pay people for reviews without proper disclosure. The truth has a way of coming out, and when it does, it can hurt your brand. Remember that customers who receive a sample of your product in exchange for a review also need to disclose this information in their reviews, so that you don't get in trouble.
Collaborate with Influencers
Influencer marketing has become more important in business over the years. Consumers now have more trust in influencers than they do in traditional advertising. Pixlee explains, “you want to connect with influencers, so they will speak about your brand. Ideally, you want them to say positive things about your company, but when you pay an influencer for a review, keep in mind you have limited control over what is said.” Authenticity is important to influencers because it's how they gathered a loyal audience. Make sure to collaborate with influencers who like your product and have similar values as your company. Just as with compensating customers for reviews, disclosure is required when you compensate an influencer.
Use Native Advertising
Although PR is correctly identified as an earned, not paid, communications channel, there is synergy with certain paid promotional communications. Native advertising is non-promotional content that's natural in its environment. Sharethrough explains, “Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. Native ads match the visual design of the experience they live within, and look and feel like natural content.” Although it appears to be informative content, there is still a goal of introducing readers to your brand. Traditional advertising isn't as effective on consumers as it used to be because people have come to view it as too pushy. Native advertising tells a story. It doesn't have salesy or promotional content. How do you inform people of your brand this way? Oftentimes, you'll have your brand name somewhere on the page stating the content was sponsored by your company.
To create an effective PR strategy, you need to be authentic with your brand communications, pay attention to feedback, collaborate with influencers and use native advertising. These are some of the most powerful strategies being used today in PR 2.0, the new, expanded approach to collaborative communications.