PR is for everyone and embracing social media is a must, but with a little elbow grease you can manage your brand on your own (or at least until you hit the big time).
Today it’s called your brand but everyone – small businesses, corporations, you, me – needs PR to both build and maintain their reputation. There’s been lots said recently about the demise of PR, but with the increasing pace and flow of electronic information, actively building and managing your public profile is more crucial than ever.
You can’t just create, say, the new Ford hybrid, and then trust that repetitive adverts are going to keep people thinking you are America’s #1 hybrid carmaker forever. It’s about creation, and it’s about engagement.
The good news about social media is that all of us can build and maintain our online reputation – without hiring a team of marketing consultants. But like any engagement, commitment is critical. Define your goals ("I want to be recognized as Vancouver’s premier purveyor of peanut sauce") and then commit the time to writing the blog entries, posting the photos and engaging with the community through your social media platforms.
Think baby steps as you plot your PR strategy. Maybe you drop off jars of your sauce to the city’s top food bloggers. This engagement with online audiences not only helps to create buzz but can also provide you with insight about what your audience thinks of your product. Do Facebook comments show that the spicy sauce isn’t spicy enough? Maybe this is the time to tell them about your new Killer Spice sauce that hits stores next month.
Once you’ve become the Peanut Sauce Queen of Vancouver, you can take the bigger step of engaging a communications agency to increase your profile in major mainstream media (and possibly, a chance to show off your sauce to George Stroumboulopoulos).