How does the public view your company? Are you top-of-mind for your industry? MSPs cannot live without public relations (PR), especially since all IT is local. Maximizing your brand's visibility within your community helps attract new prospects and define your current customers' opinion of you. You may think it's optional and really only useful for enterprise businesses, but it's a necessity for any company, regardless of company size, production, or goals.
In this post, we'll go over the value of good PR in managed IT services and provide some best practices when crafting a PR plan.
1. Know Your Audience
Clearly define your audience, your stakeholders, the people you touch and the audience you seek. Until you know who you are looking to serve or communicate with, you won’t know how to craft the message. That message should also be consistent across all of your other communications and channels, both written and spoken.
Hint: If you're not sure who your audience is, we give you pointers for identifying and engaging with your target market in Chapter 1 of the eBook offered below.
2. Define Your Needs
Public Relations comes in many forms:
- Annual Report
- Keynote Speech
- Message Points
- Press Conference Materials
- Fact Sheet
- Press Kit
- Social Media Techniques
- Print, Radio, TV or Website Advertisements
- Crisis Communication Plan – This one is especially important in the event of a breach or security scandal
- Special Event Materials
3. Think Social Media
The media is getting more social. While there are several applications for social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), maintaining an active social presence is an effective way to amplify your PR efforts. Not sure how to do this?
Keep in mind that as with any medium, implementation makes all the difference. Use social media wisely by adopting this strategy, and the investment of time can be a major payoff.
4. Align Yourself or Your Organization with a Nonprofit
This is a win-win for everyone. Backing a nonprofit is not only good for your image, but it also gives you a way to get to know your community better. The good PR from building a relationship with a nonprofit is just one benefit from this strategy.
At our company, we're committed to serving those who've served, providing preferential consideration in hiring veterans and having established the Continuum Veteran's Foundation (CVF) to empower veterans with distinction through financial support to organizations like Hire Heroes USA.
Aligning involvement such as this with PR efforts will help you reach more people and organizations with the same philanthropic-oriented focus, helping spread your message.
5. Position Yourself as an Expert
Be willing to talk to media about issues in your field even when you don’t have an agenda to push. Those same conversations can then be repurposed into blog posts that you can promote on social media, as described in the third step above. Make public appearances regardless of event size just so you can build a reputation as being someone of interest in your industry. The local component of this is huge and a great way for you to become more well-known in your community!
6. Have a Crisis Communication Plan in Place
Be proactive, organized and prepared for the worst case scenario. Making decisions during non-crisis time will guarantee that horrendous, emotion-based decisions won’t be made during an actual crisis—which does, of course, compound the problem. Obviously you don't want to suffer a business-crippling data breach, but do you have a PR plan in place should the issue arise? Journalists from local press outlets might bombard you with inquiries, and you could be slammed online. How do you mitigate the damage to your brand?
7. Communicate Internally
Some of the most successful organizations spend just as much time communicating with their own staff as they do communicating with the outside world. Appropriate internal communications can encourage company or brand loyalty, message control and a more productive work environment.
8. Update Your Website
There are very simple ways to ensure that your website is updated weekly. It not only aids search engine optimization (SEO), but it gives your employees, customers or other stakeholders a reason to stay connected. If you add a new service offering, for example, you'll want to put out a press release and alert local media so they pick it up and promote to their networks. Then, you can feed this press release and any media coverage that results to your website.
Do you know how to identify and market to your target audience?