Step away from your computer and take the time to get your strategy in shape.
1. The Pulse Check
Lots of business owners dive straight into the action without having a clear plan in place that aligns with their business objectives.
Spending time understanding what it is you want to achieve from your PR and marketing activity, what you want to say and more importantly, how to say it in a way that’s meaningful to your customers, will maximise engagement and reduce wasted effort.
- What do we need to achieve? For example, build trust and respect, raise awareness or grow your customer base.
- Who do you want to reach?
- What pain points do they need help with and what do they want to hear from you?
- What story do you have to tell that will resonate with your customers and make them pay attention to you?
- Are there four key messages you’d like people to remember about you?
2. The Warm Up
So, you’ve set your goals, thought about your audience and refined your story and key messages. Now it’s time to think about how you’re going share your story and connect with your customers.
Think about their lifestyle – both their working week and their spare time. What are the opportunities to engage with them? With limited time and budget available what are the most effective channels for you to concentrate on?
- Social media: Choose two or three key channels to focus on. For example, if your customers are other businesses then LinkedIn should feature prominently. If you’re more consumer focused, then Facebook and Instagram might be more appropriate for you. Twitter is an effective channel for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer activity. Try to build up a good mix of content including blogs, images, videos, live streams, infographics and links to related posts.
- Mainstream media: Newspapers, radio, TV and magazines still play an important role in boosting your business profile, on and off-line, particularly as part of thought leadership activity. Consider what ‘expert’ articles you could suggest to journalists.
- Website and blog: These remain your core brand building components. Ensure your website is search engine optimised and mobile phone compatible. Keep your blog posts updated regularly.
- E-newsletters: If done for the right reasons and with useful content, newsletters can be an effective tool for engaging with your customers but be careful not to turn them into unwanted spam.
- Events: Nothing beats looking someone in the eye. Whether it’s at an event held by you, or at a networking event, seminar or exhibition hosted by someone else.
- Awards: A huge variety of business and community awards are held throughout the year. Being shortlisted can be a great way to build kudos in your products or services.
- Advertising: If you have the budget available, an advertising campaign can be an effective way of boosting awareness of your brand or product. Consider taking space in print, broadcast, online, social media or outdoor advertising.
3. The Workout Schedule
OK, you’re just about ready to pull on your PR trainers and hit the ground running. There’s just one more step – drawing up a schedule to help you keep on track. There are lots of different ways of doing this so choose one that best suits you.
Try to plan as far in advance as you can ideally, at least, six months. I find dividing each month into the channels my clients will be using works best for me. To give you more chance of succeeding, wherever possible put a heading or subject title of the content you’re planning to share.
Having a pool of content such as blogs, articles, images and infographics ready will also help avoid getting behind. You don’t have to create everything from scratch. There’s a wealth of information already out there that you can comment on and share. Remember to credit the original author, designer or photographer.
4. Let’s Go!
Remember to have fun! Talking about your business and area of expertise is your passion so let it shine through – you’ll be surprised at how well people will respond to that.
Your plan’s not written in stone so always be open to shaping it as the year progresses.