As a marketer, I often get asked the question what is the difference between marketing and PR and why is it important to engage in both?
Whereas marketing involves promoting a service in an attempt to generate direct engagement or revenue, PR focuses on managing a positive reputation to create a favourable public image. PR can be adopted by large brands, celebrities and even politicians, so where does it come into play when managing the reputation of professional service firms?
A subtle and effective PR strategy can create trustworthy brands and position a brand within the mind of its audience. This is even more important as a service firm. As the offering is less tangible, it is vital your brand’s positioning has positive connotations in the mind of its users. PR aids in creating and strengthening these connotations through a variety of clever marketing tactics;
First of all, communication will set the tone for all of your marketing activities. You might not think communication counts as PR, but if it contributes to the public image of how your brand is perceived, it’s PR. How you communicate and engage with your audience lays the groundwork for your brand’s identity. As a professional services firm, you will want to adopt a professional, yet relatable tone.
Corporate social responsibility is a great way to engage the people in your firm and give back to the local community. There are many ways to strengthen your firm’s CSR. You can partner with a local charity, whether it be a year-long partnership, frequently engaging your staff in raising donations by running marathons and holding charity events; or having a one-off office bake sale for a cause of your choice.
CSR can also take the form of environmental commitments. Pledge to go green by; promoting paperless working, recycling paper documents, focusing on sustainably-sourced office material or incentivising staff to cycle to work by offering a cycle to work scheme. These are all simple steps to ensure your firm is doing its bit for the environment and at the same time building your brand’s profile and culture.
There are endless possibilities for events in professional services industries. What about holding a local networking event for your clients and their contacts? Or a charity fundraiser for your chosen charity partnership? Events are a great way to improve staff engagement whilst also strengthening your external profile.
4. Press Coverage
Your CSR activities, networking events and business news are of interest to your community and are worth sharing on your website, email communications and with local or industry/sector press. Clearly, you need to communicate the usual messages to ensure that clients and your network of contacts are aware of your services and the key people they need to speak to for professional support. You can do this with integrated messaging including press releases and social media sharing case studies, key appointments, new business relationships and alliances and other firm or service news.
Fun social media posts about bake sales or the annual Christmas party show that your business has a human side which is more likely to resonate with audiences.
There is no single magic PR bullet, more so an integrated approach of various PR tactics that together create your firm’s reputation over time.
If you want to know more about how to integrate an effective PR strategy then get in touch with us! We support professional services firms in all aspects of marketing – from planning strategy to making the most of social media and networking.