Public relations is a very important tool when you want to build brand awareness and be recognised as an expert. But is it right for your business now?
In 2017, a mattress war exploded when local mattress seller Koala threw massive shade at high-end bedding giant De Rucci. If you’ve been travelling from Sydney to Melbourne, you may have seen these somewhere near the airports...
The De Rucci billboard, featuring Dr De Rucci’s penetrating gaze | Credits: The Brag
Koala’s ad parody that helped cut through the noise | Credits: Pedestrian
The local bed manufacturer Koala decided to create a comical spin and ‘mock’ the De Rucci brand with this tagline: “Australia’s least pretentious mattress”. They even had their designer pose with that same penetrating gaze as Dr De Rucci’s.
What happened to Koala next was every marketer’s dream — word of mouth spread like a virus, and people were sharing the news and ordering mattresses.
This is one of the great examples of leveraging the power of public relations, or PR because Koala made sure they amplified the media with social and news coverage far beyond the media price (I heard it was distressed inventory they got for a steal).
PR is crucial for businesses because it is always far more powerful for someone else to tell your story.
Generally speaking, editorial beats advertising, so it’s worth the effort.
Traditional media values PR at a 3.5 multiple on paid media equivalent value. Remember, the benefits of getting third-party endorsements for your products and services are generally worth the inspiration and perspiration required.
Businesses might think, “Hang on, if it works for Koala, then it can work for us, right?”
While there is no doubt that PR is a great channel, this may not be the case for all businesses all the time.
There are some rules to consider before deciding if it is the right channel for you: What product do you intend to use it for? Who is your target audience?
And this is where things get missed.
In business, people often want to know which channels are great for them. And seeing that some startups and online businesses are making PR work really well for them, you may want to immediately try it for your business as well.
But is PR a good idea for your business right now?
To get the most out of PR, you need to get the fundamentals in place, make sure that it’s set up to win, and re-evaluate whether a channel is right or wrong.
Are the Right Conditions in Place?
For PR to work for you, there are a couple of things that need to be in place.
1. Are your middle to lower funnels water-tight?
Have a look at your marketing and sales funnels, your marketing automation, and your landing pages. These need to be optimised for conversion in order to get the most out of PR.
In the case of Koala, their funnel is tightly and neatly defined. It’s got one product. There’s great remarkability at the top of the funnel. Their content has a bit of personality and messaging that matches back to their audience enough to hook them in. Their outrageous offer takes away the risk for the potential customer. Once people enter the marketing funnel, they put them straight into a demo video for one product. All these make conversion seamless and effective.
2. Are your customer lifetime value (CLV) and repeat purchase optimised?
The money we spend at the bottom of the funnel and in repeat purchases has a return that’s so much more than money spent anywhere else.
Remember the golden ratio of 7:3:1. It costs 7x more to acquire a new customer as it is to resell to another customer at $1, and it costs 3x to cross-sell to them.
This means that the money we spend on the top of the funnel is the most expensive money with the lowest return.
So make sure that your funnel is tight and narrowly defined. So if I were to have a marketing budget to optimise my marketing funnel, I would spend it to assess and fix the issues at the bottom of the funnel first.
3. Do you have a direct line-of-sight in your strategy?
Create the story. Identify what segments would be interested in this and why. Tightly define what media they use. Define the next steps we need them to take in the funnel.
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If you or your PR agency are able to answer these questions in a way that results to a narrow and tightly defined funnel that isn’t leaky, then yes, PR will definitely be an amazing channel for you to use.
If you decide to leverage the power of PR to your advantage, here are the next steps you need to take.
First, make sure the media outlet or PR channel is relevant to the audience you are trying to engage. This works on two levels:
- Geographical: Is it a global, regional, or local opportunity you are seeking?
- Audience relevance: How tightly can you define your audience?
Make it newsworthy, interesting, and relevant to the audience who are engaging with the media.
Working with Your PR Team
- Identify the hook. Is it interesting, different, or provocative?
- Know the PR team or the place, exactly who they serve, and what type of thing interests them — the more targeted and relevant you are, the more successful you will be.
- Have you given them everything they might need if they choose to cover you? Images, text, product, video interview, samples, etc.?
- Follow up! Set a date and time and agree on an approach.
Things to Watch Out For
- Don’t focus on what is important to you. Focus on what is important to them. Don’t forget that it’s not just a selling job.
- You can’t control the coverage, so make sure you can back up all claims and prove you are as good as you say you are.
Public relations is a great, cost-effective way of marketing your business. But in order to see great returns, you have to ensure that everything — from your website to your content — is indeed set up for you to win.
Have you used PR in your digital strategy? What were your experiences with it? Let me know in the Comments below.