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Public Relations

To stand out from competitors, you want to get people talking about your company and how it is perceived in a positive sense.  This requires a deliberate strategy for how you might cultivate that perception by reaching out and communicating, and sending a clear message about how much you value your customers.  This is what big companies call a “PR campaign” where much of the advertising is aimed at simply reminding customers of what is already there, rather than to introduce something new.

The key to public relations is quite simple.  People do not look for you unless they know at least that you are there and what you have to offer.  Getting that awareness is not as difficult as you might think, and certainly not as expensive as gambling on the big store opening ceremony that barely gets a mention in a medium-city newspaper.  However, if you get your 5 minutes of recognition, then what?  People will quickly forget who you are or where you are located unless you have a mechanism to tie everything you do into different aspects of your public relations strategy.  Your website is a cornerstone, but in a virtual sense: there are other tangible aspects that need to be addressed as well.

To do public relations well you need a strategic plan for the long-term care and feeding of awareness that your business exists.  This is not exactly where Write4hire.com plays a major role – our participation comes when we are aware of your strategic plan so that it becomes possible to blend our efforts with your goals and objectives, and to publish the right elements that complement


An obvious form of PR is to make public announcements about anything that involves your business that you want to share, such as adding a new specialist to your staff, or if you extend your business hours, or any other change that benefits your customers.  You can even brag publicly about the new website you have launched, and the creation and publication of newsletters, or even specific articles within newsletters that may attract specific news shows that can be featured and so enhance the stature of your business.

This part of your work effort involves the use of a press release (that we explained as a separate drop-down section) and mailing that to all the media editors or journalists that may want to follow-up on this “news item” (we make their life easy to increase the odds that we get our piece published).  It is important to link this release to other material on your website as part of a larger PR initiative by including the proper references to where you keep your “further information” in an easy-to-find landing page (a single entry point setup for that press release, from where we can control how people can navigate to all the relevant supporting information).

Press releases to not necessarily have to go to the formal media: it is also a format used to attract attention in other forums.  Sometimes people object to blatant advertising on a social site, but since the press release is “news” it may be acceptable, and the result is the same as what you wanted.  If people pursue the link (which may be active) then they leave the social site, get to your landing page, and from there the world is your oyster.  As explained before, so long as you branch out from your landing page to your site using a separate browser window, you maintain the link back to the originating website: that is one way to relieve objections over establishing a link out to your website.

CRM System Implementation

Our service focus has you execute powerful strategies with relatively simple tools that are based on Excel™ so that customization and integration with existing software is generally made easier.   We have pre-built CRM components that are ideal for business operations that need to be budget conscious, and Excel™ by nature makes it fairly easy to customize the information for specific business needs.  Our software components are built in VBA, and structured so that they can “recognize” core information vs. categories and adapt the operations accordingly, which means you can do minor customization at the Excel level on your own.

Turning to CRM as a targeted means of addressing customers requires a gradual change that does not have to be upsetting to employees: we do not focus on call centers with close performance tracking.  Start small, tied to requests for follow-up information that gives you an excuse to contact them (PR) when new relevant information emerges.  In time you will add categories – you will have the same customers responding to different categories for more contact opportunities.  Before long it becomes the grass-roots way to follow-up with your prospects. 

Introduce CRM to employees and deliver ongoing training in how to spot categories to expand the usefulness of your data.  Make sure they follow-up on queries, even if that information is not quite available you can tell the prospective customer that their query is on file and that you will make every effort to get back to them – that is not science but common sense.  It is part of a culture of continuous improvement that is adjusted to deliver a sharper competitive edge as a business evolves.  Keep employees in the loop to help supply the information needed to continuously improve how the system leverages customer information.  CRM cannot hurt, but it can pay big dividends in the long run.

Customer Relationship Management

The outcome of your PR efforts needs to be to cultivate customer relations.  CRM is a proven strategy to enhance business performance but an effective implementation is not always easy — for larger business organizations complexities arise from trying to align an entire company behind the concept.  Success that comes from leveraging customer knowledge, but it can be difficult to define how CRM will benefit business in terms of measurable ROI (return on investment).

Don’t focus too much on how the software will help customers — what will improve your bottom line is how CRM helps you use customer data more effectively: what type of business processes benefit most from different customer information items so that they can positively influence sales.  Small businesses have an advantage – large business enterprises can get mired in conflicting priorities for different departments.  CRM does not have to be costly or complex – you can execute powerful strategies with relatively simple tools like Excel™ so that customization and integration with existing software is generally made easier.   We can even help you with that if required.

The collected customer data is the core of a CRM solution: avoid keeping duplicate and outdated data in multiple files and use identifying keys like E-mail addresses to collate all new inputs, such as different queries from a customer on different interest topics. It is important to identify what you want to use CRM for, but you will find that simple can be better and the columnar arrangement and filtering in Excel™ can be very powerful for arranging targeted lists for follow-up.

In the News

This service consists of periodic searches of the company name to see what web spiders have found as references to the company.  This is not just about gossip referencing your business (although that is something you should know about), but especially in terms of how easy it is to find your business when people query relevant keywords.  If “elixir” is related to a competitor, you may find that you don’t want to be associated with dubious instant remedies, but to get noticed you might want to publish an article about “elixir” in which you can contrast the snake oil approach to your well researched products or to alternative home remedies: at once debunking the “elixir” and establishing PR.

We recommend that you search the Internet (Google or Bing) once or twice a month with a series of keywords that you develop on your company.  You can start with simply the company name and see what comes up, and competitor names to see how they fare by comparison.  As you do this you can see highlighted keywords that are associated with the company and you can search against those keywords to see if the company has a positive presence with respect to that search.  In the event of a negative connotation it is important to pursue that information and to use mechanisms to plant the corrected information so that it will be found and distributed.

For something that was hardly an issue even a decade ago, searching how a company is perceived on the Internet becomes extremely important.  A press release can remedy a bad press: even if it does not get picked up and reflected in print it will be accessible via the Internet media, so that anyone who pursues a particular angle will find your rebuttal and recognize a smear campaign for what it is.  Just make sure that the press release has all the relevant match keys by which tools like Bing and Google locate associations that then ensures your press release makes it in response to the same query that an offender piece responds to.  Other than that, well, this is a free speech society.

Seminars and Events

You can offer to speak or participate in someone else’s event or you can be bold enough to organize your own event, where you get the chance to gain community recognition in your own neighborhood.  You will be featured as an expert in your field and by default people will listen to what you have to say – even go out of their way to visit your store.

However, not everyone is comfortable in the role of speaker/presenter, and if you overstretch your abilities the opportunity can backfire and be detrimental to your business reputation, never mind the fact that most people are hesitant to step up to the podium to speak in public.  It takes time to develop a sense of being at ease in front of an audience, and to interact in a manner that exudes confidence, which in turn increases your credibility as expert on the subject matter at hand.  Start with smaller gatherings and familiar crowds to develop your skills before you work up to a larger audience: if you know the subject inside out you will discover that you have nothing to be concerned about.

The same confidence can get you in the public eye as a spokesperson, and that gets you invited to speak to the media, which is the best possible public relations coup when you get to add your website URL to your credits.  It is all about generating traffic to your site.

Trade Shows

Business owners may participate in tradeshows in a purely passive manner, or they can find opportunities to become actively engaged in public relations for their business.  The difference between someone leaving with a bag of goodies vs. someone who exchanged business cards to establish future relationships is what we talk about.  If they play their cards right, those bags contain promotional materials from your business even if you do not have a table at the show.   It is all about strategy and focus: when you have both it will amaze you what you can accomplish.

Of course active participation brings the most reward if you are setup to do business on the Internet, because you have no geographical limitations for reaching out to clients. In a small way, though, showing that you had a presence even at a remote show that has a high-end reputation sends the message within your own geographical area that you are playing in the big league, which is a good PR message, especially if you can feature your stand pictured on your web site even if it is not featured anywhere else.  Many website structures incorporate a section on events the company participated in.

Trade shows often produce publications, and you may have an opportunity to provide input in terms of one or more advertorials.  Sometimes that alone can get you into the show as a guest where you speak to the converted.  Contribute freely – eventually you will get name recognition and success will follow persistence as a result.  That is PR in a nutshell, to be in charge of your public image and to cultivate that image over time.  It is not difficult to see how a website can make a big contribution to creating that image as it is a public medium that is completely under your control.  Use it wisely.