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Thursday, December 14, 2017

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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.