As we deal with the impacts of Covid-19, many small and medium-sized New Zealand businesses are going back to basics, assessing their core operations, taking as much care of staff as possible, making hard decisions, and looking for opportunities.
So, where does marketing and PR sit in this landscape, especially when value-for-money becomes an essential factor when deciding where to spend?
Let’s start with what PR is and what it can do for your brand and your business. Essentially, a good public relations strategy and communications plan will align with your business objectives, protect and enhance your reputation, and generate goodwill. And it will generate measurable outcomes – whether that is reaching the audience you want to reach with the right messages, turning eyeballs into actions, or selling more widgets.
Because it’s about reputation, PR is a long-term game. What better time to start than when Kiwis are focused on buying New Zealand-made and supporting kiwi businesses? There is immense public goodwill at present for those thousands of SMEs creating, servicing and distributing to other Kiwis. This is a great time to use that goodwill, build on it, and let people get to know who you are and what you offer.
These are our top tips for introducing – or reintroducing – your organisation to your customers, community members, donors, and other stakeholders.
- Know your values and what you stand for. Your “why” is part of what makes you different. Be clear on that and what you bring to New Zealand (and the world) right now.
- Tune into what your customers/donors/audiences are doing, talking about or listening to. Use whatever platforms they’re on – social media, print and online publications, popular websites – to gauge current feeling, issues and needs. We’ve all been impacted by the pandemic, so what is your target market’s current reality, and how does your business fit in?
- No doubt you’ve changed how you do business – even subtly - to adapt to Covid 19. How has that adaptation affected your brand story? Get clear on this before going public. Key messages should align with your business objectives, resonate with your audiences, and get to the point snappily. Write out your key messages so everyone in your team understands what value you offer for customers.
- With your refreshed organisational objectives as a guide, and your understanding of your audiences top-of-mind, create a PR plan and calendar for the rest of the year, keeping in mind it will need to be adaptable. Many events that were on hold are now going ahead, but many are still suspended. People are working more flexibly and there has been a greater shift to digital. Build your plan with clear goals, but make it simple.
- What will you say? Storytelling is the most fun and effective way to connect with your audiences. What stories do you have that you can tell that are new, fresh, adapted to your audiences, and relevant for what they need?
- Who can tell your stories? Identify your key spokespeople and ensure they have the right messages to get the story across succinctly.
- Timing is critical. When it comes to PR and social media activities and campaigns, be prepared to act fast, change direction, and adapt. This is our new reality. A story that was relevant under Level 2 is irrelevant now. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough, and don’t be down on yourself if you need to change your activities and even cancel stories if they are no longer suitable.
- If you have a story that is new, interesting and reflects current trends in New Zealand, consider pitching it to the media. Make sure you know who you are sending your pitch to, their interests, their typical work days, and how they like to receive information. Journalists are busier than ever, but good content is valued. Remember that reporters and editors will have their readers in mind. Why should readers care about your story?
- Adapt your story for social media. No doubt you have different followers on your Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Instagram platforms and they’ll be interested in different aspects of your business. Simply copying and pasting isn’t likely to work. Social media is an investment of time and energy, but it’s a great place to listen to and join in, conversations. You don’t have to be everywhere – be where your audience is. Follow the organisations and people your audience follow. Understand what others in your space are doing. There’s a wealth of information out there if you have the time to delve into it.
- Work on your website’s digital authority. Again, like social media strategy and media relations, there’s a lot more to say about increasing your digital authority and being a trusted source according to Google. At the very least, ensure that when your organisation, products or services are talked about online, your web pages are linked back to. Also ensure the back-end of your website is up-to-date with tags that reflect your actual content.
- Finally, measure and report on what you’ve achieved. A good set-up at the start of your PR activities will identify the ways you can measure success of your PR outcomes, and the overall impact on your business. Look at your results clearly, make changes, and improve next time. You’ll be learning a lot along the way – and that’s a good thing.
If you are looking for support creating a PR strategy or communications plan, or need media relations, social media or digital PR support, reach out to us at Wright Communications. We’re here to help kiwi businesses through these difficult times, because we’re all in this together.