Rome wasn’t built in a day and unfortunately, neither is a brand. If you’re starting your own business, sit back, strap in and get ready for the ride of your life.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of the Virgin brands over the years and unsurprisingly, I’m a strong believer in the power of brand. The good news is, you don’t need to be of Virgin-esque proportions to be able to use the term ‘brand’ when discussing your business. Being a brand really just means that you care about the perception of your products or service, vision and content, ultimately how the outside world sees you.
If you’d like a bit of inspiration to whet your appetite, Prophet recently released their 2018 Brand Relevance report. The now annual report, benchmarks the most relevant brands in the UK from the likes of Lego and Dyson to global entities such as PayPal, Apple and Google.
What’s probably most relevant here is to note some of the new entrants, namely the NHS. A case in point for the power of well executed PR, with the organisation entering the ranking hot off the back of their 70th Anniversary campaign.
The programme included paid for and earned support, including case study interviews with patients and staff across national newspapers and breakfast television. What they managed to do so effortlessly was to simply bring to life through PR what they’re already doing as a business so brilliantly. They stay authentic to their brand and core values to make the campaign utterly believable. This leads us nicely to our first tip.
If you don’t know who you are how will anyone else?
Much like a house, a brand needs to be built from the ground up. The following are essential steps every business should consider with their PR agency when building a brand:
– What are your core values?
– Define a tone of voice
– Create a brand guidelines document
– Who are you targeting and what motivates them? (Audience mapping)
– How do they consume information? Blogs, social media, traditional media (media mapping)
Does it past the post-it test?
An old boss of mine in London taught me about the post-it test well over a decade ago and I have to say I still use it as a filter today. Quite simply, if you can’t sell yourself on a post-it note then your positioning is over complicated. Less is more when defining your brand, be honest, simple and straight-talking.
Using PR to tell your story
Once you’ve built the foundations of your brand and you’re ready to tell the world it’s time to prepare your PR programme. Your plan will need to be tailored to your target audience, working with media you know they regularly consume. This might start with a traditional PR route with a launch press release going to print and online publications, complimented with a social media schedule across LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
A key component of your programme really should involve a content marketing strategy, including bespoke articles written for your company blog/website and thought leadership pieces your senior leadership team can amplify through their LinkedIn channels. This approach establishes a consistent voice for the brand across multiple platforms, it also meaningfully engages staff with the brand and gives them ownable collateral to promote, in turn building their own personal brand.
How can PR show real returns?
Traditional PR in the form of media relations is measured in terms of ‘opportunities to see’ and ‘advertising equivalents’. Whilst this method is firmly established, it’s well recognised in the industry that it needs some updating for the modern world and complex business needs. The long-term benefits of pure PR include relationship building, increased brand awareness and significantly stealing share of voice over your competitors!
Where PR is most powerful is as part of an integrated marketing mix. A campaign that also includes a social and content marketing strategy has very real returns and plays a critical part in the sales funnel, driving lead generation. We’ve had feedback from clients to gratify this and with the help of intelligent analytics available to track where/how content is being consumed we can credibly say PR is helping our clients brand and businesses grow!