Public Relation (PR) is essentially the art of managing how information about individuals or companies is shared with the public. However, sharing information in a positive light should not be misunderstood as a tool for making false claims or misleading statements.
Today, a PR professional is your agency’s public face. From sending out press releases and building relations with potential investors to organizing community outreach and volunteer programs, their work has become important to people and organizations of all shapes and sizes.
If done correctly, PR can help create the right image for your agency’s brand. You can use the stories in your agency business to attract the target audience as well as build brand awareness. Start with the following public relation strategy:
Determine your goals and objectives
By determining your agency SMART goals, you will have a clear purpose for your PR strategy, thus increasing the chances of success. Whether you choose to do it on your own or hire a professional, the goals will also provide a benchmark to measure success:
Find your target audience
This is the most fundamental step. You have to really know your clients well – their demographics, habits, and preferences. It is the only way you will be able to set your goals and align them accordingly.
Imagine your agency’s future
Try to imagine where your agency will be in the next five to ten years. How do you expect the public to think of you? How much will your business grow? Do you intend to cash out and retire? Try answering questions like these.
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Write a letter
Absurd as it may seem, this practice is tremendously helpful for all businesses. Try writing a short letter about your business goals, set five years into the future, describing what you have accomplished and how it came about.
Combine all of the above
Once you have collected all your facts and figures, put them together and write down your agency’s goals and objectives. Be realistic and practical, as it will not only shape your agency’s PR policy, but provide the business direction as well.
Build media relations effectively
Build public relation with relevant news outlets, to ensure that your business is portrayed well in the media, both online and offline. They have extensive outreach among the public and here is how you can tap into it:
Identify appropriate media contacts
Journalists typically cover ‘beats’ or specific topics for publications. Read through newspapers and magazines to find stories that are similar to what you intend to pitch. For instance, you should find people, who write about issues related to international students or migrants.
Track media contacts and publications
Start tracking the writers and publications you like. Shortlist the really good ones and contact them. Create a media list, which includes reporters’ names, contact information, preferred mode of contact, and type of publication. Also, check whether the writers and their publications are credible and reach your target audience.
Make your contacts directly
The most effective way to engage media professionals is to contact them directly via phone, e-mail or even social media. This way, you can develop a personalized message about why your story will be a good fit for their publications.
Be actively involved in your local community
No matter where your business is located, one of the best ways to have good agency public relation is to be active in your local community, wherever your business is located. Community relation establishes your agency’s presence, and there are many ways you can get involved:
Pick a topic or issue
The community near you may be small or large, but to cover everything is not possible. Instead, pick a topic or issue that concerns you deeply. Ideally, it should also be related to your business. For instance, involve in various community programs that focus on education and also take a step ahead in creating a digital footprint.
Make your presence felt
After choosing the issue, research about how the community is approaching it. Find out who your local area representatives are and how they plan to improve education in the community. Attend regular meetings, if you have to.
Help out with a firm commitment
Make a firm commitment about how active your agency will be in the community. Moreover, you need to clarify what you can do to help. Don’t make promises you won’t be able to fulfill.
Have a crisis management plan
You know as well as anyone that a crisis can make or break your business. It could come in the form of fire, illness of key staff members or even damage to office premises. Having a crisis management plan in place allows your agency to operate as smoothly as possible and manage public relation efforts professionally:
Identify potential elements that could affect your business
Further, depending on your agency’s specific circumstances, there are many possible events that might constitute a crisis. Think of all the possible scenarios, and even those that may seem unlikely at the moment. Here are some examples:
- Natural disasters
- Theft or vandalism
- Power cuts
- IT system failure
- Loss or illness of staff
- Outbreak of diseases or infections
- Terrorist attacks
Plan out the solutions
Now, make a plan of how your agency will handle each one of them. For instance, if you are worried about potential illnesses to key staff members, start training others in your agency to do similar jobs.
Train your staff well
Well, crisis management requires a lot of practice. So, you can conduct regular training and workshops, develop effective coaching and mentoring practices for agency staff to understand these potential risks and what to do in case they happen. It should include instructions on how to communicate with each other internally, as well as maintain clear communication with your external contacts, like the media and clients.
Organize events and campaigns to strengthen public relation
Your agency’s seminars and events are a valuable PR tool, especially for your young clients, who give higher value to experiences. Moreover, it is an opportunity to meet and greet people in your network. You should consider the following things:
Find a good theme
All events need themes that the attendees can identify with. Also, it tells them what the event is about, making it easier to decide whether to attend or not. Your event theme should relate to your line of business.
Find an ideal location
The location of your event must be conveniently accessible, with ample parking space. The premises need to have all the facilities you need, including conference hall and even catering services.
Make list of attendees
Start making a list of people you would like to invite. Look into your database and try to have a good mix – education and migration experts, counselors, media personalities, writers, students, and so on.
In the age of the internet, PR can be highly successful online too. The most recent ice bucket challenge is a good example of a successful PR strategy. It’s a campaign created to find a cure for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease, and got the attention of people worldwide in all walks of life – from everyday folks to celebrities and politicians!