Trust: The Key to PR’s Success or Failure

Trust in MarketingWhat’s the most important part of public relations? You might think that the answer is in the word “public”—in other words, how wide an audience you can reach with information about your organization. However, an equal amount of attention needs to be focused on the “relations” component of PR. PR is less a set of tried-and-true formulas for communicating with customers, and more a discipline of building trust. The relationships you cultivate with audiences will ultimately determine your company’s success or failure.

This is borne out in recent conversations across cyberspace about the role of “influencers” in social media marketing. According to data from the PR firm Edelman, more and more existing and prospective consumers turn to trusted technical experts, academic experts, peers, and even CEOs for information on what products to buy. These “influencers” are opinion leaders because they have earned a given population’s trust and can therefore powerfully affect consumers’ purchasing choices.

As one author describes it, “Influencer marketing is yesterday’s word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.” Interestingly enough, even though 21st-century consumers seem to prefer the “old-fashioned” concept of trust when deciding to make a purchase, the media they trust have shifted significantly. Edelman’s data also revealed that millennials tend to place their trust in search engines and social media more than traditional avenues.

Whether your business uses primarily traditional or online marketing in its approach, it’s safe to say that you’ll see greater results only if you use public relations to cultivate trust and build relationships with the clients that matter to you. This will strengthen brand loyalty, as people will genuinely enjoy your brand and your product. Some of our most successful clients have already developed relationships with customers who love them and what they do, and it shows.

The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) can help your organization develop a comprehensive public relations plan to connect with your audiences. As a full-service public relations, marketing and digital advertising agency, we understand the public with which your business is likely to interact, and we can connect you with influencers who will further help you develop a relationship of trust with consumers. If you have any questions about our social media or other marketing services, please contact us at (631) 207-1057 ext. 107 or at johnzaher@theprmg.com.

Community Welcome Packets Greet New Homeowners

John recently moved to a new home with his family. One of the first pieces of mail he received was a Welcome Packet from Community Survey, a corporate outfit with a local franchise in Smithtown. The packet included coupons and gift certificates from a host of local retailers and service providers, as well as a welcome message from Community Survey.

These packets give local business owners a lot of potential to reach new homeowners in their towns. They are entirely affordable for organizations of any size and target a very specific demographic that is generally ready and able to spend a lot of money on things like home improvements. These families are also looking for local businesses to fill their day-to-day needs. Often the first shops and providers a new resident patronizes become the places he or she will frequent over the course of residency.

If you are looking to reach the new families in your town for as little as $25 per month, contact PRMG and we’ll help you get started.

Whose Brand Is It Anyway? A brand is defined by its customers

Imagine this scenario: Your company decides to rebrand its logo by changing its font. No big deal, right?

Wrong. Or at least not if you are IKEA. Last week, a Swedish resident was reading an IKEA print advertisement in a local newspaper when he noticed the IKEA typeface looked different. He sent out a message over Twitter and learned from IKEA’s advertising agency that IKEA had recently adopted a new font. As Time magazine reported in its recent article, very soon customers from Tokyo to Dublin to Melbourne were tweeting about how they thought the new font was “just plain ugly” and how disgusted they were with the font change. The IKEA font issue soon became a trending topic on Twitter, with fans across the globe talking about it, drawing even more tweets than Senator Edward Kennedy.

IKEA’s font furor proves yet again what many brand theorists have always asserted: A brand is defined by its customers, not the company that creates it. The book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, quotes Ricardo Guimaraes, founder of Thymus Branding in Brazil. According to him, “the value of a brand belongs to the market, and not to the company and the company is, in a way, only a tool to create value for the brand.”

With brands being defined by your customers, it becomes even more important to pay close attention to what they have to say. Because, whether you like it or not, customers can talk and connect with each other over social networks and exchange reviews and opinions about you and your product or service. Instead of avoiding participation in these conversations out of fear of criticism or a backlash, companies are better off jumping in and leveraging the buzz to crowdsource ideas and better improve their product or brand.

Take Dell for example. In 2006, “Dell Hell” became a popular phrase over the Internet – with online bloggers and customers complaining about Dell’s poor customer service. The company learned its lessons quickly, and soon launched its blog, Direct2Dell, to listen and engage directly with customers. Soon after, Dell launched IdeaStorm, a site where customers could brainstorm, discuss and submit ideas relating to Dell and its products, allowing them to directly participate in shaping the Dell brand. Since its launch, Dell has implemented 366 ideas submitted by customers.

Many companies spend heavily on costly market research to glean consumer insights. Though all your customers or audiences may not necessarily be online, social media allows you to obtain these insights for free by monitoring blogs, microblogs and social networks in real time, often allowing you to spot trends, test ideas, identify influencers or to respond quickly to what could brew into a potential PR crisis. Using tools like Google Alerts, Technorati, Google Reader, GoogleBlogSearch and Twitter search, you can easily monitor and listen to what’s being said about you. Hiring an agency may be a good idea if you do not have the time or the resources to keep an ear to the ground for you.

In the end, no matter whom the brand belongs to – customers or your company – listening more closely to your customers will make them feel valued, creating more brand loyalty and better engagement. The positive word-of-mouth publicity this will generate will give your brand a tremendous boost.

For more information on our social media and digital marketing services, contact PRMG at johnzaher@theprmg.com.