WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, YOU HAVE TO 'UP' THE CHEERLEADING BY LIESL SIMPSON, Managing Director at Evolution PR 15 August 2019

It is no secret that many businesses in South Africa are experiencing difficult trading conditions which is the result of a depressed economy. A knee-jerk reaction is to cut costs in a number of areas, but this is most often seen in the marketing department. The irony is that in uncertain times, a business needs to increase its visibility and enhance its reputation to its markets through the media. Cutting costs on PR, part of a company's marketing efforts, can actually exacerbate the situation rather than improving it. In other words, when the team is down, you need to up the cheerleading.

So, why is PR the answer?
PR is one of the most cost-effective ways of promoting your business and enhancing its reputation. It can be incredibly valuable when you have a limited budget to promote your products or services, intellectual capital and successes, as it often delivers more 'bang for your buck' than other marketing activities. These PR activities can be done through a number of initiatives such as thought leadership articles, media interviews (including broadcast) and roundtable attendances, just to name a few.

Public opinion can make or break a business and when going through a tough economic period, the company should consider bolstering their PR efforts. The more the company spokespersons are seen and heard, the harder it is for the public to forget about the company. This builds on the brand's visibility and credibility.

Thought provoking content is key
When a business has built a reputation as an industry leader, it is essential to have continuous thought-provoking content that will further position the company in a positive light. Your audience needs to continually feel your presence as this will ensure that you are always top of mind, even if the business is grappling with challenges behind closed doors. The more positive, informative, and meaningful content disseminated into the public sphere, the better the perception of the business. This influences a prospective client's decision to engage with the company.

Additionally, PR can assist in reaching potential investors. The more your brand is in the public domain, the better your chance of attracting the right investors. Furthermore, a well-executed PR campaign makes your business appear larger and more established, which can help secure legitimate partnerships and funding. This can assist as part of a turnaround strategy to pull a business out of the red and get them 'back to black'.

PR is a vital and reliable tool that will help elevate the business by making sure that the brand has consistent media presence and credibility, creating more visibility, enhancing credibility and supporting the company to grow organically. As a result, PR should be the last thing you cut when trying to remain competitive in an economic downturn.

 

 

WHAT DOES PUBLIC RELATIONS MEAN TO YOU? BY LIESL SIMPSON, MD AT EVOLUTION PR 5 June 2019

Many companies have a perception of what Public Relations (PR) is. More often than not, they confuse PR with marketing, branding and advertising. A key challenge that PR agencies face is presenting and explaining what PR is and the value derived from engaging with a PR partner. So, what are some of the perceptions of PR, what is it in reality and how can it help your business?

We already have a marketing department that does this...
The most common phrase used by prospective clients before an explanation can be provided on PR is as follows: "We already have marketing person/department that does our Advertising and Website."

Although PR is a component of the greater marketing bouquet of services, PR does not fulfil all of these departments' functions. This lack of understanding often flows through the entire organisation.

Public Relations - Defined
Wikipedia has a lovely definition of PR. It is described as the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organisation such as...' This continues for another paragraph or two and by the third sentence, confusion sets in.

The promise of PR
Unfortunately, it is usually the companies that reject PR that need it the most. When a company experiences financial difficulties, PR is one of the first budgets to be cut. Even when these companies end up understanding the concept, they find themselves questioning the value PR can bring to their company. PR can assist with negative media as if a PR and communications strategy is in place, the company would already have a positive reputation in the media and their industry which can soften the "blow". Additionally, the PR agency would also have a plan in place to off-set the negative focus in a proactive manner. However, the main goal of PR is to build the business' reputation.

To PR or not to PR
Remember, PR is not advertising or marketing, it brings its own value to the business table. It adds credibility to anything directly communicated from the business itself and humanises it in the process. Although you may know that your business is ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest trends, PR makes sure that your customers know too. This highlights PR's use in facilitating how a business creates and sustains relationships with its markets and enhances its reputation, leading to healthy profit margins and long-term sustainability.

The value PR can bring lies in the picture it depicts of your company. For example, a smaller company can be positioned as a larger, more formidable business with significant knowledge and experience.

It's all about telling your story in your own words
PR allows a company to shape the perception of their business in a positive manner by reaching the appropriate target markets through the media. It tells the story of the company, its value proposition, the company culture and why it exists. It provides a platform for customers to tell the intended target markets how great the business is and importantly, creates top of mind awareness. Keep this in mind next time somebody calls and asks if you require a PR agency.

 

 

The Importance of PR BY Liesl Simpson

There is always one question on the lips of everyone that I talk to about PR and it is; just why is PR so important anyway? Does PR really have that much of an impact on a business's bottom line? The answer is yes, it does. It can have a serious influence on whether people choose to conduct business with you. Here are a few points to remember the next time you start to dismiss PR as simply an unnecessary additional cost.

PR adds credibility to your voice
When a potential customer browses through the marketplace searching for a product or a service, they are confronted with a cacophony of sounds, shouts of "I'm the best!" and "Pick us, we know what we're doing!". These are the time-weary battle cries of Advertising and do very much so have a place in the promotion of these products and services on offer. However, potential customers stand a far greater chance of hearing your voice through the clamour and trusting in what your business is saying if editorial is published that is objective and delivers value to the reader. Furthermore, case studies provide testimonial from customers as to how great you are rather than you simply tooting your own horn which can be perceived as boastful. Spreading the business's name in this way substantially bolsters marketing and advertising efforts.

Creates and sustains relationships
Ideally, a business should not just be aiming at securing once off customers. Rather, a business should be aiming at retaining customers. This is where PR truly shines as a powerful business tool. Relationships aren't formed by organisations, they are formed by people. The best way to form a connection with your customer is through humanising your business. In PR, the spokesperson becomes part of the face of your business, thereby creating a human point with which your customers connect with. The constant presence of the spokesperson through their engagement with the media makes potential customers more familiar with your business.

Additionally, PR professionals are more likely to have a deeper understanding of the media landscape than marketers and are therefore able to craft messages in such a way that numerous media companies would find newsworthy. This type of engagement with the media, and in turn customers, allows for a more personal, long term relationship to form and be maintained. In today's market this is important as according to PwC's Global Consumer Insights Survey for 2018 35% of consumers consider trust in a brand as one of their top three factors to consider when deciding to purchase.

Be seen as an industry leader
When a business is seen to keep up to date with the latest industry trends, it is regarded as an industry leader. If you have spotted, and more importantly commented, on the latest trends before they become cliché catch phrases, it shows that your business has a long-term understanding of the industry that you operate within. That is an attractive image to have as trust is often based on expertise and with trust comes brand loyalty.

Yes, it does affect your bottom line
Remember, PR is not advertising or marketing, it brings its own value to the business table. It adds credibility to anything directly communicated from the business itself and humanises it in the process. Although you may know that your business is ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest trends, PR makes sure that your customers know too. This highlights PR's use in facilitating how a business creates and sustains relationships with its markets and enhances its reputation, leading to healthy profit margins and long-term sustainability.