Branding and PR

By Dr Vaneeta Aggarwal

There is a definite lack of clarity among business owners and common people when it comes to what connects and what disconnects marketing, branding, and PR. While recent developments have indeed blurred the dividing lines there is still a significant difference between them, especially between PR and branding. We will look at the latter in the following paragraphs. Let us begin with branding:

Branding- It is how is the product or service or business exemplified.

On the other hand, we may describe PR as:

PR- It is how trusted sources portray you or their opinion about you as borne out by the medium.

Good PR and Branding when combined with proper marketing is very much the formula to the success or failure of a brand, if there was indeed such formula. Experts very well know the value of third-party endorsements like testimonies, awards, media, and press mentions, social perception and a dedicated community. These are the things that are most likely to result in a diverse group of people like retailers, customers, and investors to invest time and money in your brand. These factors are in good portion, a part of PR.

Marketing and PR

The concept of what makes up for PR and what constitutes marketing is a common confusion that many people have. Branding is essential and big firms often create lack of clarity in the core brand message by separating the PR and marketing teams. Ideally, there needs to be an integrated approach to the two with both working at tandem to serve the brand. Coordination and cooperation of PR and marketing activities result in greater success of the whole branding process.

Importance of PR

People familiar with the mechanics of marketing are quite aware of the tremendous and intense competition going on between competing brands. In such a scenario PR can prove to be immensely useful in its role as an earned media. The potential of proper PR is especially significant for small business brands. Accordingly, some marketing gurus attribute to PR ten times the impact of traditional advertisement. Media carries with it the reputation of being an independent, third-party entity and when they say good things about your brand, it serves as an endorsement.

With the kind of competition existing in the current market, business-owners often make the mistake of giving into hopelessness. They are often tempted to think that they will not be able to compete with the big-league competitors out there who hire a full house of dedicated publicists. But the truth is that they are wrong in that assumption. Journalists usually have this soft corner for the little guy, the underdog. As a new business it would be shrewd for you to craft such a brand-story and present it to public accordingly through the media. If you employ proper PR strategy, a small brand with limited resources and pack a punch and deliver a knockout to bigger businesses when it comes to branding.

The following strategies work great for PR efforts and serve to lay a solid foundation for your brand and its awareness:

  • Create a brand with a solid value proposition and get greater brand recognition

The very first thing businesses need to do for proper branding is to put into words the vision and mission they have or espouse. Spell this out in written vision and mission statements. While these are rudimentary, they are terribly important too. It is a vision of what your mission is going to be and how you want to be in a point in time in the future. It is through these documents that people get the answer to the most critical question of your value proposition- what is it?

Once you have this sorted out, businesses can proceed to develop the essential messages they want to convey to the people through the brand. If you want your brand to gain recognition in earned media, then such messages are what gets you there. Ideally you need inbound marketing to complement your PR efforts to ensure that your brand is visible and credible and readily recognized amongst your target audience.

  • Make your mark in your industry niche as a trustworthy thought leader

As a business owner or other stakeholder, it is important to understand what your business is all about. Read and learn about your niche thoroughly and stay aware of the latest developments in your field of operations. You need to be a part of professional organizations in the same sector and be a participant in educational events. Ensure a comprehensive understanding of the target audience and their preferences regarding choice in media outlets. It is only after you have completed these steps that you can get recognition as an industry expert and gain attraction as the same in the eyes of the press.

It might be a bit of challenging work but with sufficient effort and diligence it is very, very achievable. Just remain aware of industry news and key personnel in media houses that cover the business topic of your interest. Do not be afraid to reach out to suitable journalists if you need that.

Small businesses especially stand to gain a great deal of traction from such moves. If a major media outlet quotes key company personnel, your public profile stands to benefit greatly. Small local financial businesses that find mention alongside national ones is an example of such elevation of company profiles.

Another PR activity that will boost your brand and company profile considerable is publication of articles under the apparent authorship of the designated company personnel. Such efforts need to be continuous and are best left to experts if you do not have the time and skills for it.

  • Remain accessible to journalists and help them

Reporters receive several hundred of story suggestions and pitches daily. So, it is especially important for business owners and marketing personnel to respond quickly and effectively to queries from journalists. If they ask for an interview, schedule it at the earliest possible time or swiftly provide them with the information they are looking for.

You need to stand out as a media-friendly business brand that supports and tends to the needs of journalists. This is truer for print journalism which is on the wane and must deal with considerable cuts to available media resources.

Once you have made sure that a story will help your brand and your target audience, make sure that reporters can cover it with ease. In this context it is essential that you pitch to the right journalist at the right media house. So, double-check to see everything fits in with that. With a comfortable relationship with the media, you will find it easy to improve the effectiveness of your PR strategies overall.

  • Tell a compelling story through your branding efforts.

A timely engaging story is something that all of us appreciate. And that includes reporters too provided you are presenting it to the right reporter at the right time like we mentioned before. All businesses can find positive stories in their history and activities. Just make sure that the story you are choosing connects real people with your product or service. Give a thorough thought about who the ultimate buyer is and use whatever available chances there are to present your brand attractively through stories to them.

Besides educating people and raising awareness in your niche, also ensure that you host dedicated events. Another promising idea is to sponsor community work which will help you voice your opinion on local issues. It will raise local awareness of your business and boost positive brand PR.

To Sum Up

Remember success in PR comes from continuous efforts and you cannot achieve it overnight. If you display commitment to your PR initiatives, then earned media will effectively complement the marketing you do to raise brand awareness and recognition.

Bizemag

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