Why PR Is Key to Your Marketing Mix

By Alison Gallagher-Hughes. of Tillymint Communications

When it comes to marketing building products, providing potential customers with a reason to buy is as important as any other selling point around the product itself. Specification, technical capability and functionality are all key elements but demonstrating understanding of your customer’s needs and applying context are also critical.

This allows us to communicate on a more subtle level and peel back the layers of buying psychology to convey the values of your brand, such as quality, consistency and customer service – clearly defining a differential in an increasingly competitive market.

PR in action: Trade press journalists attend a facility day for the 30th Anniversary of GEZE UK. Photo courtesy of GEZE UK. Copyright Richard Wakefield.

Often in the desire to hit sales targets, manufacturers and retailers abandon a marketing and revert to a sales-led model. However, ignoring the wants, needs and desires of customers and prospects is a strategic error. Marketing is a holistic cycle and only by tapping into this reserve will it stay ‘in step’ with the requirements of today and develop the products and solutions for tomorrow.

Understanding our customers and learning how to communicate with them effectively is where public relations comes to the fore. It is a vital facet of the promotional ‘P’ and develops an essential two-way method of communication. Often dismissed as a ‘soft skill’, in reality it performs a fundamental function by generating awareness, increasing visibility and communicating with your relevant audiences.

Now, PR can come in many forms: media relations, bespoke features, expert voice and commentary, events, social media, brochures and catalogues, newsletters, sponsorship, employee, stakeholder and community relations. Each method can be applied across a variety of different channels – traditional and digital, but essentially it comes down to a core component: the word,

Crafting these words is a skill in itself. So, here’s our top tips to producing perfect product PR:both written and spoken.

  1. Commit and plan – PR is best undertaken as a rolling programme of activity. In this way you can map and plan your output around your wider marketing activity, seasonality and topicality. 
  2. Know your customers – You probably have many, who undertake different roles, across different sectors. Profile and segment them so that the delivery of your communications is right on target
  3. Apply context – Set the scene by considering themes or demonstrating products in practice through case studies and examples of application.
  4. The Devil’s in the detail…but not always – Your products and services may inhabit a highly technical world, but the fine detail technical data doesn’t need to be applied in every case. Instead, choose your vehicle wisely – brochures and product literature, yes, but in some cases it’s better to pull out key facts and figures that convey the wider key selling points.
  5. It’s not all about pushing a product – People do business with people. Highlight your values, customer service and success stories.
  6. Don’t be frightened to try something new – finding different ways of ‘engaging’ with your publics and providing added value to the customer experience can win you fans. So, whether it’s developing CPD or a user guide, online tutorial or customer user group event…give it a go.
  7. Technical doesn’t have to be boring – whether you are producing widgits or core processors, you have a story to tell. That can include colour, experience and achievement – convey these to help people connect with your business at different levels.
  8. A picture paints a thousand words – and a strong image should always accompany your PR. It can provide standout, apply context and perhaps demonstrate your product or service in action. Attention spans can be limited – especially when reading content online – so a photo is ideal for grabbing and holding your readers’ interest.
  9. Develop dynamic content that will inform, educate and entertain – This is particularly useful for embedding online platforms or digital magazines, like Brickwork and Xtra Build, which can offer the advertiser and the reader a different experience to the printed page. Consider things like film, animation, interactive infographics, surveys and polls.
  10. Choose your PR partner wisely – yes, skills and experience are important (you want to feel confident that they can do the job) but finding a ‘fit’ is key. Big agencies aren’t always the answer – they have more resources but also more clients and where will you be on their pecking list? It is perhaps more important to find an account director with whom you have a ‘meeting of minds’, who is prepared to drive your account and generate ideas that are aligned with your brand and its values.

Tillymint Communications is a marketing and PR agency which specialises in providing services for construction, building products and architecture clients.

For information email: info@tillymint.co.uk or visit: www.tillymint.co.uk