The relationship between a business and a consumer is a continuous, ever-evolving dynamic. Many factors come into play, and like any other relationship, companies need to make an effort to cultivate and maintain it. That's where public relations often comes into play.
Public relations is different from but still closely associated with marketing. While marketing focuses more on branding and advertising, public relations manages the company's public profile, with responsibilities that range from pitching ideas to local media to managing negative attention or incidents.
Not all approaches to PR are equal, however. Public relations managers must walk a difficult line of utilizing tried-and-true strategies to maintain a client's image while at the same time differentiating their client in creative, often new, ways that garner more positive attention.
A program such as the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Communications – Public Relations online from Northwest Missouri State University (Northwest) provides graduates with the type of contemporary skills and deep knowledge base required to be an effective public relations specialist in today's rapidly changing media landscape, including how to manage social media campaigns, utilize analytics tools and have a fundamental understanding of persuasive influence, among others. Skilled public relations professionals can offer priceless value to a company with their ability to effectively manage a reputation.
Here is a look at five best practices for public relations, a preview of the kind of lessons included in the courses and curricula of Northwest's B.S. in Communication – Public Relations online program:
Keep Messaging Clear and Concise
Clear, concise messaging is one of the core tenets for effective public relations. This post from Cision points out that people's attention spans often last for as little as nine seconds, meaning that a clear message must be conveyed quickly in order to resonate. Use colorful words but be sure to trim unnecessary wordage.
Another way to help with this is by purging jargon and clichés from messaging. Unfortunately, these terms tend to fall flat with listeners, either because they don't understand them or because they've heard them too many times.
Pique the Consumer's Interest
Give people a reason to pay attention to your messaging by making it more engaging. Adding visual elements or special formatting can enhance the effects of text and create a more compelling exchange. Taking calculated risks is not always easy, but when done properly, taking steps "outside the box" can help your message rise to the top, as Cision notes.
Measure Success by Using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Measuring the effectiveness of your messaging on the back end of the process is crucial for honing your process and maintaining success. KPIs have a lot of insights to offer if PR specialists are able to conduct effective analyses. Consulting firm HubSpot lists a number of KPIs that every PR professional should know and utilize, including earned media coverage and mentions, website traffic, social media metrics, share of voice and more.
There are many KPIs to look at, and the more familiar you become with their connections and context, the more meaning you can take away from them.
Capitalize on Local and Non-Local Outlets
Earned media is one of the best ways to build trust with the public, so PR professionals should not limit the scope of their pitches or connections. As HubSpot points out, research polls have shown that a majority of people in the U.S. trust national and local media as opposed to social media content.
Building connections with community members and other businesses locally is an ideal way to create a trustworthy reputation for any client.
Taking Advantage of Social Media
Social media is still a critical tool for companies in today's media landscape. It can often be ground zero for consumer feedback and other interactions, so it can be a potent tool for dealing with the public directly. As a result, PR pros should have a strategy for cultivating and maintaining a strong image on social media, as well as a set of guidelines for interacting with consumers, including troubleshooting any incidents.
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