Industry marketing and public relations professionals share tips.
Public relations initiatives shouldn’t be limited to big dealers with large budgets. Even small dealers, using a little creativity, can play the PR game. In this second of a two-part series, Josie Heskje, director, strategic marketing, office equipment group, GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp.; Samina Sabir, communications director, DocuWare Corp.; and Andy Smalley, director of marketing, Flex Technology Group, discuss how even dealers with tight budgets benefit from public relations.
Heskje: It’s productive for a local business to establish relationships in your community. Be a member of your area Chamber of Commerce, for example. They often have opportunities for their members to market their services to other members, such as speaking engagements, open houses or newsletter spotlights. You and your team have expertise on current issues you can share in lunch and learns or guest blogs.
Know the editors, producers, and writers for your local media. Go to lunch and let them know what your business goals are. Ask them what kinds of stories they are looking for. Talk to your newest employees and find out what they liked most about your company that drew them in. There could be a story there. Is there a philanthropic focus you or your employees are involved with that you could help gain attention for, while also gaining PR for your business? Stories with a visual element can help gain media attention. And the not-for-profit usually benefits too, creating a win-win. Good local PR can help not only with selling your products and services, but with hiring top talent as well.
Sabir: Public relations is about telling the truth, being transparent, empathetic and building trust – “yes our solution can do that” or “no we are not experts at that” is the best kind of PR. Public relations is also about always being available to answer questions or finding the expert on your team who can answer those questions. Honesty, empathy, and reliability don’t require a financial investment, but the reputation you will earn when you provide them is priceless!
Any dealer no matter how large or small can identify one good communicator/people’s person on their team, who cares enough to see and understand a customer’s point of view. Let that be the point person for their customers and for journalists—it’s a good starting place for PR practices.
Smalley: With public relations, have three simple objectives in mind:
- Always try to give more than you ask, without any expectation for exchange or return. The goal is to guilt them into helping you after you’ve provided value to them.
- Provide thoughtful suggestions/commendation as a reader or consumer of the information they publish.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. A friendly lunch or virtual cup of coffee goes a long way, and they appreciate meeting with you because you are there to help them
Public relations, much like sales, is all about building relationships. Connect with someone in media relations or news reporters from relevant outlets and find out how you can provide them value. For me personally, when I cannot directly assist at that time, I always look for someone in my network or from our customer/partner base that might be a good resource. The effort goes a long way.
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