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Public Relations: It’s a Mindset, Not a One-Time Activity

Nancy Marshall, CEO of Nancy Marshall Communications

Three Tips to Generate PR on an Ongoing Basis

I frequently talk with clients who say that they want to do “a little bit of PR.” When I hear that, I sometimes have to bite my tongue so as not to say “there’s no such thing as a little bit of PR.”

Public relations is a mindset. It’s something you need to be thinking about all the time. Well, maybe you don’t need to think about it as much as I do, because I really do think about it all the time (just ask my husband).  But  if you are always thinking about your relationship with the public, and your targeted publics in particular, then you are more likely to experience success with building your brand.

Here are three tips that will help you think like a PR professional:

1. Share helpful information with your targeted publics

Leverage social media—post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on how to accomplish something in your field of work.

Give a speech to the local Rotary explaining the latest trends in your industry.

Host an informational workshop for your clients and friends at a local community center in your area of business.

2. Watch the news of the day to see how you might be able to offer expertise.

Recently there was a train crash and oil explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec, right over the border from Maine. Anyone with experience in how trains work, or the way oil is prone to burn uncontrollably, could speak with authority to the news about this tragedy. Or an expert in psychotherapy could talk about how you should talk to your children about tragic events.  Figuring out ways to adapt a national news story and leverage it for your own PR is called “newsjacking,” and it’s an amazingly effective public relations technique.

3. Look for opportunities to share the news of your business.

Have you hired a new employee?  Send out a press release with his or her head shot. Have you taken on a new client or customer? That’s a good reason for a press release, as well. How about an award or a published article? That’s newsworthy. A new invention, patent, or trademark? Yes, that’s also a reason to reach out to the news media. 

 

A little bit of PR will do just that:  get you a little bit of PR. But if you are always thinking about how to get your news out there to your targeted audiences and raise your profile with the public, then you are more likely to benefit from increased awareness in the marketplace.

Place Branding

Creperie a la Gourmandise Bretonne in the village of Mont Saint SauveurI just returned from a weekend trip to Mont Saint Sauveur, a small mountain town north of Montreal where my husband was working on a ski race. It’s located in the Laurentian Region of Quebec. It occured to me while we were there that the personality, or the unique ‘flavor’ of the region, was in evidence everywhere I turned.

The Laurentians combine the international feel of Europe with the outdoor adventure and heritage feel of the Canadian mountains. There’s a distinct ‘look and feel’ to the architecture, the interior decor of the hotels and restaurants, and even the signage. Nice touches at the resort such as outdoor wood-burning fireplaces and a horse-drawn sleigh to carry skiers from the parking lot to the ski lodge only reinforce the local personality or brand.

Several weeks ago I spoke to a group of economic developers in Maine. One of the audience members asked me about branding. He said,”Frankly, I think it’s over-rated. We don’t have the time nor do we have the money to spend on branding our region. We just want to get out and promote it.”

Ouch.

How can you go out and promote something if you don’t have any idea what differentiates it from the competition? How can you tell a prospect about your region if you haven’t taken the time to identify its strengths and its weaknesses, its opportunities and its threats?

I think that if you are in charge of marketing a place, you need to get the players together from the community and do some group thinking about the place you are promoting. Bring together the artists, the authors, the photographers, the business people, the school officials, and maybe even some local kids. Figure out what it is that makes people love your region. What makes if different? How does the local heritage impact the place that it is today? What is it that defines your community, your region, or your state?

When I was in college, I took courses in “American Studies” where we learned a great deal about how the art and literature of a region are a reflection of that region, and how it helps to create the unique personality of the region. The communities in a region are all part of the intricate fabric of culture, heritage, and the economy. The food is part of that unique culture, as is the architecture and even the recreational activities. My professor, the infamous Charlie Bassett, told us that if we don’t preserve the unique personalities of the regions in our country, we are going to become a nation that is ”pasteurized and homogenized.”

So please, if you are marketing a place, take the time to identify your brand. It doesn’t have to be an expensive process, but it does involve some dialogue and some good hard thinking. Make sure you know what makes your community different from others and what you have to offer to a new family, a new business or a new organization that might want to move there.

I’ll talk more in a future post about the way we go about doing branding at Nancy Marshall Communications through our “Marshall Plan” process. A good book on the topic is “Marketing Places: Attracting Investment, Industry and Tourism to Cities, States, and Nations” by Philip Kotler, Donald H. Haider, Irving Rein” available through Amazon.com.