PR + Branding, Better Together?
September 20, 2016
For those of us who live and breathe the PR industry day in and day out, we know first-hand that story telling is the crux of the job. Each day, we’re out on the “front lines” engaging with media, selling in our clients’ stories and amplifying them to the world. And while it’s fairly turnkey to drill down the angle, cherry pick reporters based on their beats and get some quick media hits, smart PR pros know that a solid public relations campaign is built on the back of a strong brand story. It’s the secret sauce that helps elevate brand awareness and drive consumer engagement for clients. When coupled with good PR (our bread & butter), thoughtful brand messaging can directly impact, educate and inspire consumers. So next time you’re thinking critically about your clients’ brand stories, here are a few things to consider.
Know your clients’ skills – What do they do well? Will they make customers’ lives better? What is the company’s overall vision? What do they want people to feel when they read or hear about the brand? These are just a few of the questions we must ask ourselves in order to build the overarching story for our clients, the root from which all supporting stories will then stem.
Humanize the story – Let’s be honest. Reading articles on companies alone can be tedious and uninteresting. But learning about people, and how a brand, product or service directly impacts their life, now that’s an intriguing story. As PR pros, we’re taught to focus our message on the people, a C-suite exec or a client “user,” someone who personifies the brand. It’s that additional layer of support that can take the story to another level and really drive results.
Authenticity can’t be faked – Customers aren’t dummies. They relate to a brand when it feels real and tangible to them. They demand authenticity and transparency. And when brand messaging is misaligned or the brand’s voice feels disingenuous, doubt seeps into the mind of the buyer, which inevitably chips away at a company’s long-term credibility.
Leverage brand advocates – Brand advocates, those folks who can, will and want to share their positive first-hand experiences of a brand, free from compensation, can be an invaluable resource in helping shape a company’s big picture story. By curating favorable word-of-mouth messaging, brand advocates can enhance a customer’s understanding and commitment to a brand by proving their own loyalty and sharing meaningful content across highly trafficked sites.
Moral of the story? In PR, one sometimes has to zig and zag to discern what reporters need and how our clients can meet those needs. At times, pitching can be trial and error, but when clients have a fine-tuned, well-crafted brand message at their core, we’re better positioned to drive a more linear approach to PR. In the end, we’re able to deliver a coherent and straightforward story that a brand’s customers will respond to in a positive way.