When I described my new role at Plaid Swan as a PR Specialist to friends and family, I heard a lot of “Congrats.  Sounds cool.  But what does that mean?”  What exactly is PR? Well, in a nutshell, PR tells a story that engages and builds a relationship with consumers, which in return, shapes your audiences opinion, inspires action and changes people’s perception of your brand. Phew, that’s a long one. Broken down, it helps build your brand through encouraging consumer’s perception.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Wrong. Press releases, official statements, and morning-show interviews just aren’t cutting it these days in helping bridge the relationship with consumers.  We live in an every changing world and we need to be smarter, more strategic and more creative how we get the messages out.  Okay, so how do we do that?

public relations

Let’s look at 5 non-traditional ways public relations can help build your brand:

Endorsements: These may include, reviews, customer testimonials and of course, word-of-mouth. 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.  Have a great client? Ask for that review. Once you have a great review, make sure people know about it. Post on your company website, social media pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor just to name a few.

Internal Relations: Have an exec who shed 100 pounds, a co-worker who ran the Boston Marathon (woot woot Jolene!), or a manager taking a stand in your community? Brag about that. It’s newsworthy information that adds depth and credibility to your company, as well as your employees. Our small-town community made headlines recently when we experienced a hate crime of a cross burning.  The president of a local university took a stand to address the act of bigotry and shared his personal opinions in regards to the matter. This personal statement helped build goodwill to not only him, but also the university he is associated with.

Education:  Educating consumers is an important part of trying to change behaviors or perception. Conduct live presentations, webinars, or hold conferences that relate to what’s happening in the local or national news.  Take this one step further and get creative.  Make a TED talk about the time you’ve had that “aha moment” in business or the lessons you’re gained from failure. Again, building your brand is about building trust.  The more you share and educate people on your personal life happenings, the more they will trust you.

Community Events: Be visible.  Hold blood drives at your company, Adopt-A-Highway, participate in your local chamber, and be on the board of local charities.  Spreading goodwill throughout the community adds to consumers’ positive perception of not only you, but also your company.

Social Media: Last, but certainly not least, is social media.  Outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube, just name a few, play an integral part of delivering messages to the hands of consumers.  (Literally, people have the whole world in their hands with one device.) According to research, people in the U.S. check their social media accounts 17 times a day. Yes, 17 times a day!  Social media is a great outlet to spread your message, but if you want catch your consumers’ attention, you need to be brief and exciting.  Share valuable content, provide expertise, and enhance rewards with check-ins.

Building your brand through public relations won’t happen overnight, but if you tell a story that builds trust and relationships with your audience, you’ll change their perception. And that my friends is how brands are built.

-Brittani Vanderweerd, PR Specialist