Establish what your brand is and what you want it to be first
No PR strategy can begin without a plan. Think through who you want to reach, why, where they are, how you are going to get to them, and how brand building helps your business.
Just because more people know about your brand's existence doesn't automatically turn them into customers—they might just know your brand exists but not be more interested in it than they were when it didn't exist to them. Any message is not better than the wrong one.
Align charitable giving with your customers’ values
Choosing a charity or a group of charities and organizations to donate to should not be done haphazardly. While some companies might donate to things they believe in, that their employees support because of their own experience, or any number of other reasons, brand building through PR could be a better option.
Consider who your customers are—are they likely to donate their time or money to this organization? Why or why not? If your goal is to reach customers that value animals and the health of the planet, say, because you sell organic dog treats, then donating to the American Cancer Society is great and all, but the PR it may or may not generate is not optimized.
While doing good should not be reduced to a cold calculated maneuver, it is not much effort to simply shift contributions to different organizations to help build your credibility and brand in the marketplace that you desire to occupy. The previously mentioned company could instead donate to animal shelters, green organizations, or anything else more closely aligned to their customers’ goals and values.
The best PR is genuine, non-solicited, and from a third party
Any company can buy an interview, an advertisement, or paid money to force their way into the spotlight. But these days consumers are savvy and getting smarter by the minute. Millennials know when they are being advertised and marketed to, and they despise it. A third party who you did not pay or solicit sharing or talking about your brand, however, is pure gold and the end goal of every great PR or brand building effort.
The reason this has such a big impact is that the end consumer sees the extra layer of filtering and credibility. This is not the company telling me their product is awesome, this is somebody else putting their reputation on the line to tell me it is awesome or not, and that I can get behind. But how do you achieve this?
Make something great. Something worth talking about. A cucumber infused soda is much more interesting than the next marketing widget or program. But if that marketing program has a better story or is more well known, it might have a stronger brand presence. Story is important as well, and we focus on that next.
What do they mean by story?
Storytelling is an essential human need, condition, and want. It comes in many forms whether it is pictures, video, oral dialogue, a fake story that we build up in our minds and convince ourselves is true, books, media, or almost anything. This is what PR can do for your brand. It is not enough to simply tell a magazine that your product exists anymore. No one will care.
What you need is the story behind and in front of it. Why did you make it? What motivated you? How does it change the users’ story in their own life? Does it let you spend more time with your family, creating great memories and scrapbook moments? Does it take grocery shopping into virtual reality, letting you embrace your wildest childhood dreams and fantasies? Then tell customers that. That is what customers want to hear.
Don't neglect your internal brand
Many people focus purely on their external brand and the perception of it. Whether it be their products, their packaging, what kind of furry animal is in the commercials, or the reputation of their services, that kind of brand building is no doubt important.
But what can be just as important is your internal brand. This is sometimes referred to as your company culture, but it is more than that. Google and other tech companies have become infamous for their unique working conditions that go against the mold of rigid schedules, pointless meetings, structure, and cubicles.
Instead, Google aligns their internal brand with their external one to create a cohesive message. When you hear a news story about Google, whether it is their basketball games at lunch or the latest amazing invention, the story is the same: this a company at the forefront of innovation and is not afraid to be different. They are going places.
Aligning your internal brand can help employees at all levels to embody and believe in their external brand building and approach. This can reduce employee turnover and increase productivity with a healthier workplace to boot.