Brand management is a critical part of any business, but it can also be daunting. This is because it’s not a one-time event or something you do once and then forget about. Instead, brand management is an ongoing process that requires constant attention if you want to see results.
Proper marketing could give your brand better recognition with the public, and this is where public relation comes in.
It’s critical, even for small businesses or entrepreneurs, to have a strong strategy that will help them stand out from other companies. Such techniques give them the upper hand in building their brand identity and making their products more appealing than the competition.
Ultimately, it’s a solid brand personality that engages people and gains customers over time and it’s what helps brands succeed.
But, what’s the purpose of having a business if it doesn’t get the awareness and recognition it needs to gain customers? And what can you do to develop such a personality for your brand to help you reach brand goals?
The answer lies in brand management and public relations.
What is Brand Management?
Brand management does not happen overnight; it’s a long-term strategy in which you work on building and nurturing your brand over time by using multiple tactics like marketing strategies and public relations campaigns.
Brand managers are responsible for ensuring their company’s products or services remain relevant in the eyes of consumers by creating plans for marketing their brands effectively through digital media outlets like social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
As an owner of a business, one of the most important things you can do for your brand is make it different from others. Give it a unique personality and make it stand out from thousands of businesses, and you will see significant results.
This strategy of identifying and developing your brand identity is called brand management. It’s more than just your logo. Your brand’s whole image: your mission, vision, values, and more rolled into one.
That said, it’s easy to understand how brand management encompasses all the aspects involved in any business, including design, marketing, and distribution. When all these factors are aligned, brand managers can quickly establish a unique brand that appeals primarily to its target market.
And with the way small businesses are sprouting like mushrooms today, there’s no better way to get ahead of the competition than taking your branding game to the next level.
What is Public Relations?
As mentioned, brand management covers every aspect related to the brand. Thus, it is responsible for marketing.
Public Relations (PR) is a form of public affairs, corporate communications, and news. It helps to build relationships between your organization and its stakeholders. PR is often described as the “fourth P” in marketing, but it’s more than that – it’s a way to communicate with customers, employees, and other stakeholders in ways that don’t involve traditional advertising or sales efforts.
The first thing to get out of the way is that public relations are not just about getting your name on the paper. Getting your name in the media is one aspect of effective public relations, but it’s not enough. Public Relations goes beyond just generating publicity and putting out press releases; it also involves maximizing an organization’s reputation by improving communications with stakeholders and managing crises (Brandimensions).
PR professionals know how to create buzz for their clients by using social media, developing strategic partnerships with other companies or organizations (think sponsorships), engaging in community outreach programs like volunteering events, and creating event marketing campaigns around current issues or causes that are important to them (i.e., World AIDS Day), and much more (Brandsphere).
Three types of Public Relations
Public Relations is a way that starts mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their target audience. The goal of public relations is to achieve a positive image for an organization or individual through media tools, such as press releases and social media posts.
This is the media that a company has control over. It includes anything from the company’s website to its blog and social media accounts. Managers must pay attention to this kind of PR because it’s one of the best ways to reach their target audience.
This is an indirect form of publicity that comes from being mentioned in other companies’ content, such as news articles or blog posts. As opposed to owned media, earned media doesn’t require any effort; as long as your business does something interesting enough for people to write about it, you can get free advertising.
However, getting enough coverage will take time and effort—you’ll need good relationships with reporters so they’ll want to write about your brand regularly
Contrary to earned media, paid media is precisely those types of paid advertisements. This refers to ads in print publications or online banners placed at agreed rates with publishers/agencies. Think Facebook ads and PPC marketing, and you get the idea.
What is PR’s Role in Brand Management?
When Hyder said that most chief marketing officers don’t understand how PR works and how to measure it, she’s on point. Many are still living in the 1990s when it comes to public relations, so most PR strategies don’t work today. They work independently – outside of brand management.
However, it somewhat failed.
What PR needs, instead, is to understand how branding works. PR managers should work with brand managers to craft an effective PR strategy. After all, PR is a vital communication tactic that supports branding. It has a critical role in every level of the sales funnel. Thus, the marketing team needs to integrate it into every step of the marketing plan.
Public relation is an essential part of brand management. While it isn’t a replacement for exemplary business practices, PR can build and maintain relationships, share your story with the media, and build trust and credibility—all of which play a role in shaping how people view your company.
The more positive information you share about yourself and your products or services, the more likely it will be that media outlets and consumers will look favorably at what you offer. Even if there are negative aspects about your company or product line (which there almost always are), PR professionals know that the key is providing balanced coverage that’s fair and accurate.
PR today should be sales-enabled. But you also need to understand that marketing and PR should work at influencing – not controlling – the consumer.
If media and analysts were the only things that influenced consumers’ behavior before, today’s case is no longer the case. There are social media influencers, among others, that changed the marketing game. And it will continue to change in the future.
Therefore, PR needs to follow suit and support brand management to drive a positive change in modern consumers’ behavior and purchasing decisions.
Best PR Tips for Small Businesses
As understood, PR is taking advantage of news and/or magazine-style media channels to get your business known. But, while it’s no problem for big companies to shell out thousands for paid media, small businesses might struggle with this strategy.
Some business leaders laugh at the mention of PR and think it’s only for big companies, however public relations could be a powerful tool for small businesses like yours. After all, your customers may not know who you are yet—and giving them a peek at who you are and what you have to offer is how public relations strengthens brand reach.
It is about telling your story to resonate with customers and potential customers alike.
It’s about establishing yourself as an authority on topics relevant to your business, then getting out there and promoting those stories so people will notice them. If you do it well enough, PR can help build brand recognition among consumers—which leads to increased sales revenue
As a small business, you want to ensure your efforts are focused on the right things. The most effective procedure to do this is by making sure your PR strategy is aligned with your overall business mission and brand goals.
PR helps you get in touch with the right people.
PR can help you access new audiences in places you might not have been otherwise able to reach. Think of fashion or home magazines, online news media outlets, or other media resources and advocates that may be interested in covering your story or featuring your products or services on their website or social channels.
Here are some of our favorite PR tips for small businesses:
Share stories about your brand.
In public relations, sharing stories could be one of the best ways when first starting out. It is about who you are as an organization and what mission or purpose drives you. This can be done through different traditional means such as journalism or online content creation, but it also includes social media posts and influencer outreach programs within specific communities.
Be an expert in your industry.
It’s already given that you have mastered your products or services — what’s next is for you to offer your knowledge and promote yourself as an expert in the field.
Create instructional videos or expert advice regarding your niche and email it to reporters so they can quote you in their own stories. Or, you can use services like HARO, PR Newswire, and the PRWeb, where you can share your expertise with journalists and bloggers.
Answer questions in Q&A forums.
Q&A forums are a great way to showcase your expertise while exposing your brand name to a wide and vast new audience. Quora is a popular Q and A forum with 300 million monthly visitors. By simply answering questions related to your field, you can demonstrate your authority and gain exposure. The more people like your answers, the more you get upvotes, increasing your site exposure.
Participate in social media groups.
Focused groups in social media are another great avenue for small business brands and entrepreneurs to collaborate with like-minded businesses and consumers, connect with members on a more personal and focused level, and establish your expertise on a given topic. Alignable, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all social platforms that offer focus groups you could join.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account yet, it’s time you create one. Optimize your profile and start engaging in discussions about your industry to build a strong network and have greater chances of appearing in relevant searches.
Join non-profit events.
Getting involved in local community activities can help show people that good people are behind the products they buy or services they receive from companies like yours (that’s important because it might lead them back towards their local businesses more often).
Leverage video storytelling and reviews.
A small business brand should be looking at incorporating more movement into any content strategy they have, but PR strategies take video production to the next level. This is more than contextual movement, whiteboard, or explainer-style videos — we’re talking about fully and professionally produced videos that help tell a story on a deeper level.
Think news-style storytelling with different aspects, angles, and snippets from multiple resources and subjects who all come together to paint a picture of your business. These videos help explain who you are and what you stand for, highlight your services and products, and examples what it’s like to work with you or do business with you from other perspectives.
The subjects in these videos give more credence to your expertise and trustworthiness and help reinforce your value.
How to Measure Your PR Results
Measurement is the key to success in PR, and it’s essential to understand why.
Without measurement, you can’t know whether or not your PR efforts are successful. So, make sure everything from sending out press releases and pitching journalists to organizing events and getting press coverage has a measurable goal attached to it so you can track its progress toward completion.
Understand if your efforts are working to adjust accordingly.
The goal of public relations—and marketing in general—is not simply to spend money and hope for the best; it’s about creating an effective strategy that will produce results. You should be able to measure how well your strategies are working by analyzing data from various sources such as:
- Google Analytics and web analytics tools
- Insights from social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter)
- Google Business or Bing for Business insights
- Online forums/communities (Reddit)
- Other SEO rankings reporting
- Email marketing reports and insights
- Video platform insights
But, you need to GO BEYOND the vanity numbers — don’t count on “likes” on a post or a page because even though there’s a large population that is still triggered to click, more and more online readers and platform users are now reviewing the information and then moving through. Be more in tune with whether or not sharing, commenting, or other activities like clicking through to your website or online article resource is being acted on.
This information can help identify what content has been most successful at generating awareness and interest among target audiences and which channels have driven the most traffic back into your site or other properties like brand websites or apps.
Ensure that investors will feel confident in their investment.
Measuring success allows stakeholders within a company (i.e., board members) confidence that their investments in PR activities are worthwhile since they see tangible outcomes from those investments regularly rather than simply relying on anecdotal evidence provided by employees after an event takes place.
The best way to gauge your PR results is to ask. Ask website visitors, ask customers, and ask where people heard about your brand. While the numbers are not definitive, they can guide you on the next step you need to take.