Dawn Buzynski, executive director of public relations at Strategic America, writes this guest opinion on public relations.
OK, I shouldn’t be telling you this — there is a secret sauce to effective public relations. It truly will determine if your PR efforts will bear the fruit you are hoping for. (I skipped breakfast, hence the food analogies here.) It requires a few extra steps and research, but — trust me — it will work.
Understand your customer and what they want from you.
Quite simply, public relations is about relationships. You can’t have a relationship with a demographic. You need to start envisioning a person with whom you want to communicate about your product or service. The best way to do this is to picture your ideal customer.
Develop a Persona
A persona is a snapshot of an individual with whom you want to do business. A persona document includes demographic information such as age, education, career path, as well as family, hobbies, etc. Most important, a persona will show behavioral information, such as content consumption, path to purchase and pain points. These are the important factors that guide your strategy and how you will influence that person to decide or continue to do business with you.
Develop the Buyer Journey
Now that you have a solid picture of your target customer, you need to determine their path to purchase (or choice). This takes time, discussion and research. However, when you have a full understanding of emotive drivers, you know where your key opportunities are to build trust and loyalty.
Simply, you need to determine what steps your customer takes in their decision-making process. What do they do first? If it’s visiting your company’s website, then you need to spend time developing quality content that is purposeful and not just promotional. If your customer reads online reviews, then you need to ensure you are monitoring those reviews and taking the necessary steps to correct any customer service issues that arise.
Develop your Content Road Map
Once you have your audience persona and buyer’s journey documented, you have the tools necessary to start building a relationship with your audience. You do this by communicating with them in an authentic way that builds credibility for your company brand. This doesn’t mean you send email blasts with coupons or weekly promotions. In fact, a solid content strategy includes very little, if any, sales or promotional elements. The content you create needs to make sense to that customer persona. It needs to answer questions, provide solutions and entertain and relate to that customer on a very real level. It also takes time. Trust and loyalty don’t grow overnight, so be prepared to commit to your content development for an extended period of time.
So there you have it. The secret to effective PR is that it needs to be about them — not you.