I have been battling this thought for the last couple of months on how many brands always have budget for everything else but would rule out PR at the very thought of it. Let me share my experience on what triggered this thought and hopefully I will change many misconceptions about PR after reading this. Especially for young and emerging businesses.
A couple of months ago, a designer was referred to me who wanted to launch her new collection. I thought that was great. Because I had a good relationship with the person who recommended me, I went ahead to do my research into the brand and worked on a draft PR plan (for free!) for her collection launch and shared with her. After weeks of waiting, I never heard back from her and followed up only to be told she didn’t have budget for it. That was just like that…no budget? Really? So what was she thinking when she wanted to hire a PR professional? Did she think it was free?
This got me thinking! She had budget for fabrics, to put together the collection, pay for models, pay for photographer and Makeup Artist, even location for shoot and many more and then was ready to launch but guess what “She’s not ready to pay for PR service”
Around the same time, I was in talks with another potential client who was operating at 4 different locations in the city since established a few years back. Invested heavily in putting up the lovely spaces but hasn’t executed any PR related activities for its outlets and someway was thinking the service they were offering will sell itself(a service many Ghanaians know very little about)
Do businesses think PR isn’t important? And why is that? I would try to make this as simple as possible without definitions so it better explain why PR is important to any business at any level.
Let’s say you want to launch your new product or service. What is the point in investing time and money in making a great product and launching it at a fancy event and then it ends there. What PR does is to bring additional advantage to the brand. Which is to develop and execute a strategic plan looking at different phases such as the pre-launch, launch and post-launch.
Pre-launch activities: will include working on your messaging and communications. What is the story behind the product? What are your communication tools? (Are you going to be using Press Releases, Newsletters, Videos, Social Media, Website etc). Who are your target audience and how can you reach them (this will influence the kind of channels you would be selecting). Other pre-launch activities include media engagements such as securing media interviews, features, publications for your press releases etc. It would also include planning for the launch, engaging your stakeholders. If you would be using influencers/brand ambassadors then you need to provide a brief to be shared with them so they are aligned on the values of the brand, and set of objectives.
Launch Activities: This will entail all that will happen on the launch day. Would you be doing a speech? Then PR would include writing your speech or provide talking points to guide your presentation. Who is attending the event and how well informed are they after the event, provide a Press Pack to the media (this should include all the relevant information about your company, FAQ’s, contact information, Press Release).
Post-Launch activities: After the launch of your product or idea, it doesn’t and must not end there. You need to engage the media and bloggers who were invited to the launch event through media engagement and monitoring. You also need to implement sustenance strategies that can keep the product talked about, mentioned, used and testimonials given etc. Also look at what other activities you can do, people you can engage on how you can keep the brand in the public space for as long as the product is available and is being sold.
As part of post-launch activities is to monitor and evaluate how successful these PR efforts have been. This can be done using various tools and apps such as media outlets that featured the product, mentions and tags on social media, website traffic, insights on brand, sales, market survey (this should be done pre-launch and post launch) so you can measure brand awareness and impact overtime.
The strategy may vary slightly depending on the brand or industry you are working in.
So the next time you are thinking of ruling out PR in your brand strategies, I hope you think twice about it because you will be doing your brand a disservice. Don’t wait till a week or few days to launch before consulting a PR professional. It will be too late to implement an effective strategy for the launch of your product.
If you are an entrepreneur, maybe you can also share why you feel PR isn’t as important as any other thing you would want to invest in.
I am adding this note because of recent happenings within the entertainment industry in Ghana. I wrote the above before these issues and thought I should add my tiny voice to this. What I would want to say is that it is becoming evident that, many of our artists need to start making provision for a PR or Communications expert on their team. This expert should create a strategy for their brand. For instance what to say, what to write, what you share, when to share what etc.
Until artistes learn to see their craft as a business instead of just an avenue to become popular, they would be pulling all these stunts that would obviously make them unpopular. I strongly believe no professional PR expert will advise his or her client to pull a stunt as this.
Let me end with a this quote from Warren Buffet “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do this differently.