Here’s a checklist of pointers to help small business owners to raise their firm’s profile within vertical markets.
1. Be strategic. Ensure you select the teams and vertical markets which meet the firm’s broader commercial objectives. The goals of the individual teams need to marry with those of the firm to ensure any media relations activities benefit the business as a whole.
2. Select the teams which will showcase the firm’s talents and help it achieve its objectives. Factors such as track record, client base, expertise, unique selling points and media appeal should all be taken into consideration.
3. Once you’ve identified the teams and vertical sectors you want to target, segment the markets as much as possible and work out who you want to communicate with. Use this to focus on specific publications, websites and broadcast media best suited to your audience.
4. Put your time and energy into no more than three or four sectors at any one time. Delve into those markets and get to know the key issues and challenges. Hold brainstorming meetings with the relevant teams and identify the topics which they feel most comfortable with.
5. Work your way through your target media list and get to know the relevant journalists. Find out what they are working on, and generally get a feel for any opportunities. Provide synopses of your best ideas and suggest case studies and features which are relevant, timely and new.
6. Good photography can determine whether a news story or feature is published. Budget for professional, colour press shots which are relevant to the sectors you are targeting. Don’t expect your artistic marketing shots to suffice.
7. Integrate PR and marketing to optimise results. For example:
- Commission a survey whose results can be used on your website, in marketing material and as the subject for a seminar, while creating meaty statistics for media relations purposes.
- Launch a CSR campaign, sector-specific initiative or competition in partnership with a key client prospect, existing client or major publication; this will allow all parties to share data and maximise PR and marketing potential.
- Investigate sponsorship opportunities or a regular advice column in key trade journals.
8. Communicate your strategy and the rationale behind it to the firm to ensure they understand why certain teams are getting ‘special’ attention. Showcase the material you create and the results you achieve on your intranet, in your reception areas and cafeteria, in internal publications and on notice boards.
9. Handling PR in-house is no mean feat as every team will want a piece of the action. If you decide on a vertical market strategy, you need to be realistic about the amount of time required to implement it and achieve the desired results. Set yourself an action plan, allocate sufficient time, agree goals and go for it.
10. If you decide you need additional support from an experienced PR team or are considering outsourcing all your PR requirements, ensure you select a consultancy with skills and experience.
The calibre of consultants is important as they will need to inspire confidence and respect in the fee-earners they work with. Commitment, creativity and pro-activity are essential. Communicate your expectations clearly and don’t be afraid to hold your consultancy accountable. They should be continually striving to add value to your role and the firm as a whole.
Kelly Davis, author of this article, is Director of NB! Public Relations and has been working in the field of PR and marketing for the past nine years. She has extensive industry knowledge of the recruitment, human resources and people management arenas. She can be contacted at NB! Public Relations on 0117 925 4946 or via www.nb-publicrelations.co.uk