In today’s dust storm of fake news accusations and declining trust in the press, it is more important than ever to use a variety of tools and tactics for effective, transparent communications – not just traditional media relations.
Public relations professionals and communicators are the driving force behind how individuals and brands are represented; what messages and stories are shared and how. Clients rely on us to manage their brand reputations – and a good reputation requires trust. With trust in the media sinking, any PR strategy that invests in media relations should be highly scrutinized. But being smart about where you place your media bets is only part of the solution; now is the time to diversify to other communications tactics.Communicators can no longer rely on media coverage alone to share stories and build brand trust. It’s time to re-evaluate your PR strategy.Click To Tweet
You Don’t Need Media to Tell Your Story
Here are six ways you can share your brand’s story, and build credibility and trust with your audience directly, without engaging in traditional media relations.
- Control your message with content marketing. Why wait for the media to tell your story when you can tell it yourself? Create and share informational and educational content – videos, infographics, thought pieces, case studies – that tells a story: about how you are changing the marketplace, and how you help solve problems. You should stay objective and think like a journalist to create content that will resonate and isn’t just hype. But you get to control your message.
- Make your website a news source. Your website is your home base and a place where you want your customers and prospects to return time and again. Seize the opportunity to make it the place where your story lives and breathes. Don’t just talk about your products; focus on issues in your industry and be an information resource for your customers. Blog, share all the content you’ve created, curate industry news, or even invite your customers for guest commentary.
- Focus on friends + family first. Chances are you already have a database of current and former customers and others in your circle that could be excellent referral resources. Talk to them directly. Whether you share a simple newsletter or engage in sophisticated marketing automation, email marketing is among the most underrated tactics to build relationships and brand trust.
- Go to the party and socialize. Unlike traditional media, social media gives brands a chance to interact directly and immediately with their customers and prospects. The key to using social media to build trust is engagement. The best way to lose brand credibility is to simply post company and product information. Instead, consider social as the place to listen, entertain, teach, ignite discussions and gain feedback.
- Connect with the power players. Much of the appeal of media coverage is in the third-party credibility it offers. Another way to gain credibility by association is to build relationships with people who have established authority and influence over your target audience – such as highly-networked customers, industry thought leaders, academics, consultants or even celebrities. Form a relationship with them directly via social, email and with live meetings and discussions, then give them a reason to share your story and content within their circles.
- Speak directly to your audience. Despite the increasingly dominant role of digital platforms in marketing and communications, the power of live, face-to-face interaction cannot be beat. Connect directly with your buyers and those who influence them in places they are already gathering: meetings and conferences. Whether it’s a chance to deliver a keynote speech, participate in a lively panel discussion or fireside chat, or talk one-on-one with a decision maker, conference opportunities offer direct ways to spur conversation and generate demand.
The bottom line is that communicators can no longer rely on media coverage alone to share stories and build brand trust. It’s time to re-evaluate your PR strategy to avoid the media relations minefield, minimize reputation risk and rebalance your investments toward more direct ways to connect with your audiences.