Jenna Guarneri is the founder and CEO of JMGPR. Her mission to help "innovators bring their ideas to the masses" continues with the release of her book, “You Need PR: An Approachable Guide to Public Relations for Early-Stage Companies," in which she shares tips for any small business owner to grow their venture. You can read an excerpt below.
Public relations requires that you have a strategy that consists of a constant flow of communication. This applies to even JMGPR, a PR agency ourselves! Separate from our day-to-day work with clients, we have meetings to discuss our own content strategy. For instance, we have a heavy focus on biweekly blog writing, which targets potential startup clients, and Instagram, which targets college students interested in public relations and potential internships with JMGPR. The world of PR is competitive, and content helps us appear in more search engines as well as increases the likelihood of someone organically coming across us.
The world as we know it today is filled with noise, and because your business is competing with so many different noise makers, it will be increasingly difficult for your message to be received by your target audience. By continuously developing and issuing new content, you are increasing the likelihood of your audience seeing, digesting, and engaging with a message. You are also laying the foundation to grow your audience by creating relevant and engaging content that people come to rely on, communicate to others about, and genuinely look forward to receiving. Additionally, by continuously developing content on a specific topic, you are establishing yourself as a leader in your respective field, which will further aid in your company’s growth and development.
Content helps you be a part of the conversation. It’s like going to a party in a room filled with hundreds of people. You know no one, until you decide to spark up a conversation with a small group hang- ing out next to the buffet. An open dialogue will help determine your commonality with these people. The more interesting the top- ics, the more likely the group will engage in the conversation, and the more likely they will be to form a bond with you. The same can be said for public relations. You as a business are showing up to the party with a goal: You want to build new relationships but need to shout over the music for people to hear you.
The type of content that works best varies from business to business. It’s about finding your sweet spot. By now I’m sure you’ve come across one or two TED Talk videos online, but what many people don’t know is that the very first TED Talk in 1984 was a combination of technology, entertainment, and design and included a demo of the compact disc (CD), the e-book, and 3-D graphics. As you can imagine, the event didn’t do so well, and they actually lost money. It wasn’t until 1990 that the founders would try the conference out again, but this time they would bring a new roster of presenters who represented a broad range of industries, appealing to an audience who shared the traits of curiosity and open-mindedness. In 2001, TED was bought out and turned into a nonprofit, with new changes that included starting an audio and video podcast series, TED Talks, where the best TED content would be released free online. In just over two months, those six podcasts reached more than one million views. By providing its audience with free access to some of the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders, and teachers, TED became a household name, and according to the TED website, by 2012, TED Talks celebrated its one billionth video view.
Creating Meaningful Content
To build relationships with people in an already crowded space, you will need to present content that has both meaning and purpose. Lyfe Marketing issued a report highlighting that 78 percent of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads, and 70 percent believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them.1 Good content can build trust and establish credibility. By explaining your company’s points of differentiation, you are allowing the product or service to sell itself. You are showing how you are innovative without actually saying you are an “innovator.” It’s similar to when a company claims to be the “best”; naturally, no one will believe them. You have to allow consumers to develop their own perception of you. By providing consumers with quality content that is insightful and factual, you are meeting them halfway. You are presenting information that is waiting to be perceived.
One great thing about content is that it is cost-effective. There are minimal fees involved with getting your choice of platform up and running. Figuring out how to do this is easy. Thanks to the Internet, there are an endless number of how-to videos you can reference. In terms of content development, there are websites like UpWork, Fiverr, and Guru that have thousands of specialists available for one-time projects. Vetting the individual for your specific project may take some time, but with candidate profiles, reviews, and success rates included on each specialist, you’ll have a good idea of who the person is before you hire them. Once you work with them on one or two projects, you will be able to judge if you like their work or not, and they will get to know you and what you expect, so it becomes an easier process to work with them more regularly.
Communication Channels: The Different Forms of Message Delivery)
The Internet has provided us with an endless number of forums that allow us to reach a larger audience with our thoughts and creative content. The forum that will work best for your company will be based on your company goals. If you specialize in legal services, for example, your audience likely consists of thought leaders who are consistently searching for new reading content. These individuals are more left-brain dominant and more analytical and methodical in their thinking. Platforms like a blog or Twitter will be better received by them, as it will stimulate deep thoughts and conversations, rather than Instagram or video, which is targeted more toward the right-brain dominant person who is more creative and visual based.
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