Public relations (PR) land the task of presenting your company in a positive light. It’s being the intermediary between the public and your company, whether they’re releasing a new product or diffusing a major crisis; it requires loads of mindfulness, preparedness, creativity and quick thinking. But perhaps the most important two are mindfulness and preparedness – mindfulness about your brand, and being prepared enough to know exactly where to start no matter what comes up.
The first question you can ask yourself is 'why does your customer think of you?’ We know that in PR we want our consumers to see us, but we don’t talk enough about why they see us. There are some things that we spend time looking up or reading about when we can. For example, tech nerds always check out the specs on the latest phones, even when they’re not in the market for a new one. But we never think about Draino unless our sink is clogged. That holds some keys to our identity in the market, and in the eyes of our consumers.
A new cell phone manufacturer can call a press conference just to talk about something new and innovative, but a drain cleaner can’t really do the same… But, when you think about why people see you, it helps you discover clever places to make yourself be seen. For instance, what if you’re drain cleaner brand donated goods and services to communities affected by severe flooding or drainage issues? All of a sudden, people have no choice but to see you, in ways they never have before.
Perhaps one of the most useful ways of thinking about your marketing is this; if your company was a character, how would you want it to be seen? You’re probably thinking that you already know what kind of company you’re doing PR for. After all, you know how you want people to see you, right? But this goes a little deeper than wanting people to think your business is youthful or trendy, fun-loving or all business. Thinking about your business as a whole character will help you discover how it responds to every event, even the sudden emergencies that public relations officers sometimes have to use their superpowers for.
Do you know what your company’s default emotion is? How it handles the grief of losing a treasured employee or longstanding client? What are its pet peeves? How does it show that it’s excited? These sound like silly questions, but they can help flesh out a sincerely exciting and refreshing PR plan. It’s something you’ll have to sit down with other department executives about, and even go back to the company’s vision and mission to discover. But, when you’re done, you’ll have a lifelong toolkit to develop all the company’s future releases, guide responses to moments of crisis, and even help inform ad campaigns for the company well into the future. People respond best to brands that feel like trusted friends. In order to do that, you need to make a person out of your brand and let us know everything that we can about it.
After you ask what character your brand is, the next question is ‘who else lives next to you?’ This might seem like a harder question, and that’s because it is. After you’ve profiled your brand as a character, you need to ask the same question about every other ‘character’ in your market; competitors, suppliers, retailers, anyone that could be characterized the same way. How does your brand feel about theirs? Who are your friends? Who do you have a fierce rivalry with? These things will also help determine the script of how you release information that might also affect those other ‘characters’. For instance, if your brand’s character is youthful, feisty and always ready for a fight, maybe you’d release a new product by issuing a daring challenge to your oldest competitor? On the other hand, if your brand is the mature veteran, you might respond to a young upstart with grace, or not at all. Knowing what other characters are in the space also gives us the opportunity to cater some release to the other characters in the space, instead of a one-size-fits all approach. After all, you’d never respond to your long-time rival the same way as a newcomer to the market.
These three questions aren’t the only ways to think about your brand, but they certainly are interesting guidelines on how to create a creative brand that leaves long-lasting impressions. Even if you don’t ask them in these ways, thinking about your brand this way will certainly open new ways to think about representing your company and engaging with your customers. Give it a shot, and see what you discover!
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