Businesses don’t always have to spend a fortune on advertising to gain exposure in the media during this critical period of lockdown and in future, public relations (PR) can help you drive your key messages and brand on a tight budget.
Businesses with limited budgets can capitalise on the lockdown period, and the future, through cost-effective PR and media relations campaigns.
Marketing costs are soaring year-on-year and while companies are downsizing and retrenching staff, all hope is not lost as organisations of all sizes can still reach their audiences through affordable PR campaigns.
Trusted sources of media usually include print, broadcast and online, together with bloggers and podcasts, all of which can be targeted via informative press releases or other press material digitally.
A potential client recently explained to me how she spent over R30,000 on a single advert with little ROI, and I wondered why she’d invest so much in just one portal, whereas a digital PR campaign can possibly offer multiple chances for exposure in the media, at a fraction of the cost. A digital publicity campaign is a budget friendly form of media exposure for businesses including SMEs.
Digital publicity campaign
A digital publicity campaign can compromise of a press release, fact sheet, images, infographics or testimonials, or a combination of all the above, sent to all relevant media across a large database including print, online and broadcast.
In turn, the client usually gets opportunities for coverage, interviews, commentary, and exposure.
One SME client, Brenda Kofi from Expand Healing, was so pleasantly surprised by her coverage opportunities. She never thought it was possible for her small business to be seen on TV, and featured in newspapers and on radio, with such an affordable campaign. She thought that only large corporate companies can afford to embark on media campaigns.
We believe that all businesses should try to get a chance to tell their stories or promote their topics and embark on a PR campaign soon.
The value of PR could be much more rewarding and long lasting than that of advert placement. Audiences may be able to relate more to the messaging, while the business itself can reach more media, more cost-effectively.
Press releases or digital publicity campaigns can be invaluable in terms of being informative, factual, storytelling (testimonials) and awareness tools.
How can a brand or business benefit from PR campaigns?
Campaigns are customised according to the industry, the objectives, and the audiences. PR agencies often update their extensive media databases daily and create a custom media list for each campaign.
Brand building, spokesperson opportunities and media relationship building
A PR campaign offers an opportunity for key messages to reach audiences and for possible exposure for the brand or key spokespersons.
We have had journalists come back to us regularly asking for specific brands or spokespersons to give commentary on related topics or to help with relevant questions, and that’s an example of how we can help with brand building and relationship building in the media.
PR campaigns are also budget flexible on certain elements. PR agencies can disseminate releases drafted by clients, for example, to help ease budget constraints related to copywriting, and coordination fees for digital publicity campaigns are also usually more negotiable compared to booking an advertisement.
We encourage small businesses to try PR as a form of storytelling and as an awareness tool for their key topic or objective.
The release should include a key angle, stats that are relevant and information that is applicable to their business.
Awareness is key in PR and coverage does not always entail a guaranteed product or service promotion by name; therefore, it is crucial to differentiate between advertising and PR, so that client expectations are managed effectively.
Audience inclusion and reach
While PR campaigns still use and propagate social media, these platforms can also be seen to alienate some age groups or other audiences who cannot access it whereas traditional radio, television and print media are much more accessible.
This is why advertising on social media can still exclude some key audiences, not forgetting a budget that must stretch across portals to reach different social media channels.
Businesses have to sometimes consider targeting importance for example on social media versus possible higher reach using PR campaigns.
Coverage reports, reach, ROI and Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) are usually key indicators to measure a campaign.
However, more in-depth information such as sentiment reports can be included. A basic media monitoring system will offer most of these measurements and clips of coverage received.
Clients can promote their coverage on their social media pages etc., and they can recycle material by sharing online links of their coverage.
It is also recommended that spokespersons undergo basic media training to know how to handle the media depending on the context of the campaign.
Drive your messages today
According to Nielsen, staying put in our homes can lead to an increase of almost 60% in the amount of content we watch, obviously depending on an individual’s area of interest.
So why not use this time to build your brand, create awareness of your topic and build your media presence?
Businesses should invest in PR not just because of lockdown but as part of future campaigns too.
With the recent spike in fake news over the past few years, consumers are looking to credible media sources for factual information or articles and a PR agency could help put your brand or businesses story, on these credible media platforms.