Many SMEs want to create a basic PR strategy for their business, but don’t know where to start. This is the first in a series of two 360 Integrated PR blogs which will help you craft a PR strategy for your business.

This blog looks at why communications matters and how public relations can be used to build trust in your organisation. The second instalment will show you that steps you can take to put your PR strategy together.

Firstly, there are a lot of misconceptions about public relations. Here are a few misunderstandings I have encountered in discussions with clients over the past 30 years.

  1. PR is not just media relations
  2. PR is not a dark art
  3. PR is not a way to hide bad news
  4. PR is not simply a subset of the marketing plan

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (yes, we do have a charter) defines PR like this:

“Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

Three key points:

  1. PR looks after reputation – which is the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you
  2. It aims to influence opinion and behaviour – nobody changes behaviour when they’re being shouted at; businesses need to listen and build relationships with the people who matter to them
  3. It is planned and sustained – consistent communications build bonds with people, not just ad hoc announcements of what seems good to you

PR strategy to build trust

The aim is to build trust; after all, over 70% of people would stop buying from a brand they no longer trust.

The best public relations strategy aims to bring three elements together in your storytelling – presence, authority and impact. These three combine to generate an environment of trust.

Venn diagram showing trust in a PR strategy

Presence – many PR briefs start with the objective of raising awareness. It is, of course, essential that people know who you are, what you sell, how to get hold of you, and so on.

Authority – this is where you build your credibility. Your stories convey your area of expertise, the added value you bring your stakeholders, your original thoughts (hence the overused phrase ‘thought leadership’). It’s your intellectual property and appeals to the brain.

Impact – this is where you show the difference you can bring to people’s lives. It’s where you show your emotional resonance with their felt needs. It appeals to the heart.

Put stories together which demonstrate all three of these facets and you are well on your way.

So that is the context: good public relations builds trust. In the next blog, we will address the six steps by which you can turn your aspiration into the reality of a basic PR strategy for SMEs.

360 Integrated PR runs a series of workshops to help you develop your own PR strategy; contact us to discuss options and training for you and your team.