One of the most effective ways for a company to build its reputation, increase awareness and strengthen relationships with existing customers is to execute a public relations program built on a solid plan. Many companies value PR but end up with a series of disconnected communications with minimal results. By taking a little time to concentrate on your PR plan, you can better synchronize your communications and accomplish your goals.
Step One: Identify Your Target Audiences and Publications
The first way to enhance a public relations program is to take a hard look at whom you want to reach. Target audiences may include:
- Small Banks
- Large Banks
- Credit Unions
- Payment Processors
- Specific C-Suite Executives within these financial institutions (CIOs, Bank Directors)
Identify the publications that reach each audience. Many new or even established companies have not taken this important step, causing communications efforts to be less effective and more costly. The list of target audiences often evolves over time and needs to be updated on a regular basis to account for new products and services, modified organizational goals or changing demographics.
A common mistake is to send out information that is not specific and applicable to target audiences. Formally identifying and understanding the needs of each target audience and corresponding set of publications is the best way to attain measurable results.
Step Two: Define Your Customer Benefits
Another issue that companies, especially small technology start-ups, often have is not clearly defining benefits they provide customers. What unique aspect of your product or service is of value to your customer?
Be aware that offering customers “superior service” may seem to be a key benefit; however, audiences are increasingly suspicious of such claims. Too many other companies call themselves providers of “superior service,” making it difficult to determine which of these claims is actually true.
If you are trying to promote your service, be sure to have data that can back up your claim. Solid examples are recognition within the industry or a customer service award.
Step Three: Develop Key Message Points
A third way to enhance your PR plan is to evaluate your public relations message points which are derived from the list of customer benefits. Many organizations either do not have key message points or have not updated them.
Important features of good message points are:
- Simple enough to avoid being misunderstood
- Powerful enough to make the point
- Include searchable terms to boost search engine optimization