Getting the Most from your Public Relations Program
The primary objective of public relations is to establish and enhance a positive
image of the company to the public (customers, dealers and distributors, suppliers,
the financial community, and employees). It seeks to persuade people that the
company is an attractive organization with which to relate or do business. This
differs from the principal goal of other promotional elements in that they seek
to establish and enhance strictly a positive product image and thereby persuade
buyers to actually purchase the particular product. Yet favorable corporate image
among prospective buyers provides immense leverage in concluding a sale and is
clearly one of the goals of any PR program.
Once a product is positioned, press coverage reinforces and broadens the credibility
that the product and company has already gained. The press can ease customer
fears and make them feel more comfortable about new technologies. While advertising
can perform many of these functions, PR is more effective and credible because
articles in the media are perceived as more objective than advertisements. PR
also is an important feedback mechanism; companies can learn a lot from journalists
who are overall industry observers.
Press relations are a continuing investment that will pay off with time. Once
good relationships with the media are established, you can present new products
more effectively and can participate in broader articles about industry trends.
In this regard, it is imperative that a company's president and chief technical
personnel be positioned as industry experts, ones who can explain not only current
products, but how the company fits in with the present and future business environments.
When products are discussed, they should always be placed in a broader context.
As is true with all endeavors, the PR program must be approached with detailed
knowledge of both its strengths and its limitations. To its credit, PR is inexpensive,
audience specific, and highly believable. PR is also under the direct control
of your target contact, e.g. the editor who may or may not publish your story,
and is highly competitive. The limits of time and space place a high premium
on the newsworthiness of the PR announcement. Editors are looking to publish
exciting or novel information and are unlikely to accept a story about established
or common products. Remember, every interaction with an editor reflects on the
credibility you are trying to build with him/her.
When properly executed, the PR program will become a crucial contributor to
your product's and company's long-term viability.