Over 80 percent of public relations experts and digital marketers believe that meaningful brand growth in the future is rooted in storytelling.
But despite the growing prevalence of digital marketing platforms such as content marketing, videos, social media and pay-per-click ads, it turns out that investing in valuable publicity strategies remains the key to communicating a powerful story to consumers.
DesignRush sat down with chairman and chief executive officer of leading PR agency Dukas Linden Public Relations to learn exactly how brands can generate positive publicity in 2019 and formulate strategies that foster widespread brand awareness, encourage conversions, and increase revenue.
The 10 best tips for generating great publicity are…
“Credibility is the number one business-growth benefit that public relations provides,” says Richard Dukas, chairman and CEO of Dukas Linden Public Relations.
In fact, 64 percent of users believe that shared values help them build a trusting relationship with businesses – and communicating your brand value will add to this trustworthy relationship.
Luckily, this is surprisingly easy to do within business-centric publicity – particularly because there is a big difference between business press and political press.
“Business press traditionally doesn’t take a strong point of view,” says Dukas. “It tries to be informative because people who are reading it want to learn. They want actionable tips and items to help them make smart business decisions – and that is a lot less controversial than politics.”
Business reporters – while they want to get to the heart of the story – generally are filling more of a service role, which is to provide viewers or readers with actionable information that will help them in their line of work, investments, choosing the right bank, or another business-centric topic.
According to Dukas, the main reason that publicity and traditional PR are better than tactics such as social media and paid ads is the perception that it's genuine.
After all, upwards of 80 percent of customers completely ignore online ads, and 91 percent believe that online ads are more invasive than they were as little as two years ago.
Publicity has third-party credibility, which is extremely important. People are typically very impressed with media publicity – especially if it’s something in a top-tier outlet or a featured article in a local publication.
“It feels much more authentic, real and earned, as opposed to ads which are clearly paid,” says Dukas. “When you look at an ad, you know that someone paid for it, positioned it, and communicated the exact message that they wanted. But people perceive the media as truthful – despite what the President or 'the other side' might say! So, an article or a guest appearance on a business or news network has a greater ring of truth to it.”
The biggest mistake that brands can make regarding PR is not communicating clearly to the media or to their clients, customers or prospects. A lot of businesses get caught up in too much financial babble, technical talk, and so on.
However, a study from 2016 found that about 94 percent of all customers are more likely to be loyal to a business that is completely transparent in their communications with them.
For example, an accounting firm’s website might say that they stand for “client service," and people trust them because they are "client-centric.” Well, they haven’t said anything interesting to differentiate themselves yet, so they aren’t showcasing their true value or making people care.
Companies have a difficult time communicating who they are, what they stand for, their value propositions, and why others should do business with them – and this negligence can be detrimental in all forms of public relations.
Many (but not all) companies don’t understand communications and marketing as well as they could (or should!). They have a lack of awareness, don’t know how to communicate properly, and don’t have an understanding of the way in which the media works, according to Dukas.
For instance, companies without the guidance of a PR agency may put out a press release about something that the media just won’t care about (such as an award, a new website, or a small charitable event). While it may be big news within the company, such things typically aren’t important to the media.
But when brands learn how to decipher what constitutes news to the media AND what their consumers actually want to know about them, they’ll likely find that their media coverage will improve exponentially.
Press releases are the most overrated form of PR because, as mentioned above, a lot of companies don’t understand what constitutes news. So, ultimately, press releases are drastically overused.
Instead, Dukas generally advises businesses to work directly with the media and reporters to share information without a press release. And this is one of the value-adds a PR agency offers.
A good PR agency will have great relationships with the media, and businesses don’t necessarily need press releases when they have those good relationships.
“Cultivating relationships with reporters and media contacts is extremely important,” says Dukas. “That’s how you develop and implement a media relations campaign with journalists and producers.”
The media needs to have a certain degree of trust in a brand. They need to be familiar with it and have background information about it. If they don’t, the result could be quotes taken out of context that make a company look bad in the public eye. For example, one mistake that companies make in public relations is related to “headline risk.”
According to Dukas, journalists may call and ask for a quote on a scandal, and a company will provide one – and then the resulting headline may be a salacious quote or discuss a crime or wrongdoing. When consumers Google the company, the article can be a very prominent result.
Although the company may not be affiliated with that scandal or may, in fact, be providing helpful or positive insight, people scan Google quickly. They could see a negative article and associate it with the company.
For this reason, Dukas advises companies to create media relationships so they can understand the angle of a particular story and the direction it is moving in, and secure valuable press mentions.
62 percent of millennials say that online content is the key aspect that fosters their brand loyalty. Plus, almost 40 percent of users will stop interacting with a website if it’s unattractive, the imagery doesn’t load quickly, or the website as a whole takes too long to load.
Therefore, businesses that are just beginning to formulate a public relations strategy need to focus on their website first. After all, one of the first things a possible customer will do after learning about your brand will likely be to search for you online and visit your website.
“When I look at a company’s website, I immediately visit the About Us page,” says Dukas. “The second place I visit is the news or media section.”
Dukas believes that these two pages are particularly crucial to building and enhancing a brand because they communicate what the company is all about and demonstrate its value to the public. But it is important to keep current.
“Companies will often put media clips on a website initially – but then they don’t update them,” Dukas says. “If your last clip is from 2017, that sends a negative message that you are stodgy, you don’t understand marketing, and you haven’t received press coverage in two years.”
People are very brand conscious and it all boils down to credibility. Websites are the key. “Invest in a good website and make sure that the copy on the website tells a story – an effective narrative,” says Dukas, “Your website should engage visitors and demonstrate a good understanding of what you do, what you stand for, and why potential consumers should do business with you.”
“Brands need to plan for the worst case and, if a crisis strikes, get out ahead of a scandal,” says Dukas.
A negative situation can be anything from having a senior executive leave the company to a sexual harassment complaint or discrimination situation to poor earnings or a recall or something else. Businesses need to have plans in place to be able to deal with such issues if they break in the news.
Ultimately, Dukas says the general idea is to deal with a situation before it becomes public. Do whatever you can to prevent negative news from becoming public information, but if it does go public, you need people who are skilled in dealing with these things ready to handle them at a moment’s notice.
“One major mistake that companies make is that when they do have a crisis, instead of bringing in good communications council, they bump the situation to their legal counsel,” says Dukas. “But while lawyers are often helpful in those situations, most lawyers do not know how to adequately deal with the media. They tend to default to “no comment,” which is not always the right thing to do.”
“It may sound self-serving, but the best advice I can give to any growing business is to hire a good PR agency,” says Dukas. “They have excellent relationships with journalists and know how to position brands within a market to ensure a company sees long-term success and can weather any storm.”
It’s important to note that the right kind of publicity takes several steps – many of which companies are simply unaware. But public relations agencies know how to create positive interactions across all media channels and foster positive actions from consumers.
“Conventional wisdom used to be that all press was good press, but that has totally changed – especially with the prevalence of social media,” says Dukas. “Now, when there is a negative story, a negative quote, a quote taken out of context, or something else, it lives forever in cyberspace and the Twittersphere.”
Dukas notes that reputation management is very important for brands because searching online is the first thing people do before giving business to your brand, and the court of public opinion is strong.
Luckily, when you partner with a leading PR agency like Dukas Linden Public Relations, you’ll have a team of experts who are qualified to grow your brand, protect your reputation, and ensure that your company generates positive buzz that ultimately increases revenue.
Are you searching for a reliable public relations firm to bolster your brand’s public image? Richard Dukas and the team at Dukas Linden Public Relations (www.dlpr.com) can be reached at [email protected] or 212-704-7385.