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Who Has Time for All That PR Stuff?

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Good question. The issue came up at breakfast with a partner in a very successful regional investment bank the other day.

He and his firm are busy. High-quality middle-market businesses are in much demand. Strategic and financial buyers are out there. Sellers—particularly owners of family businesses—have lots of reasons to sell now. Money's available for financing. Prices have stabilized. Capital gains taxes are on the way up. And competition for market share is only going to get harder.

But, in part because they are so busy, he and his partners just don't have time for "PR," which worries him, too:

  • Are we underinvesting when we're busy in ways that will come back to haunt us when the current pipeline is empty?
  • Are we missing organic search opportunities that provide billboards to owners who need to know about our services?
  • Do we not know about new ways to target those owners?
  • And how do we avoid just talking to our peers and competitors who are also out hustling for deal flow?

Good questions.

So, how can busy executives of emerging growth companies continue to do what they do best and grow their businesses while also ensuring they are continuously keeping up with their marketing efforts and staying ahead of the competition?

Here's what we told that busy investment banker.

1. Define your audiences by geography and industry segment

You don't need to try to reach everyone. Focus instead on the key regions and targets that mean the most to you and your business, and provide them with the information that they care about.

2. Create content that will put your firm in front of those audiences

With the limited amount of time that you have to devote to marketing, focus on content that can be used across multiple communications platforms.

The information from a single bylined article, for example, can be used for your website and posted on search engines as well as used as a marketing piece for potential clients, including newsletters and tradeshow collateral. The same goes for articles about you and your company in key trade publications.

3. Get inside your targets' heads

What are your potential customers concerned about? What information do they need to make good decisions? Once you know, developing point-of-view content that addresses those needs will be easier.

One suggestion is to develop search-engine-optimized proprietary content for your website, so your firm can stay in front of clients and potential clients when they are searching in Google for relevant topics and services. Another suggestion is to use that content for direct-to-target communications—think email campaigns.

4. Find something interesting to say

You can call it "thought leadership" if you want. But just do it. Pull ideas from your website and then elaborate on them with your industry expertise and market viewpoints. Your knowledge can then be shared via social media, press releases, and blogs (yours and others).

5. Get a program

Your company started with a business plan. Why not use the milestones laid out in that plan to demonstrate your momentum? Did you just hire a new managing director? Write a press release, post the news on your website, and then draft an email for your mailing lists.

Land a new client or customer? Repeat the process. Looking to exploit a market trend of interest to your targets? Write a bylined article on the topic, send an email to your list, and then post article in a highly visible place on your website.

Brainstorm with your partners or key employees on other tactics; they may surprise you with some interesting ideas that can be used in implementing the plan.

Remember, ideas are good only if they can be shared with others and are easily accessible to them—without your being in the way.

* * *

When people want to know about you, your products, and your success story, the first thing they do is go to Google to see what you're doing, even before checking out your website. And if you look as if you don't have momentum, you may never get that call.

It's not too late to start doing that PR stuff...

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Greg Miller is founder and president of Marketcom PR. He is a communications strategist whose clients have included large firms, including PricewaterhouseCoopers and General Nutrition Centers, as well as smaller growth companies and startups.

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  • by Decio Colasanti Thu Oct 4, 2012 via web

    Congratulations, Greg!
    You just said everything.

  • by Michael O'Daniel Thu Oct 4, 2012 via web

    Any organization whose leaders do not understand the strategic importance of PR-- at whatever stage of the organization's growth -- does not deserve to be in business.

  • by Kevin O'Doherty Fri Oct 5, 2012 via web

    Greg, I don't think I could have said it better myself. I always counsel clients to be as targeted as possible - by geography and by industry. It works every time.

  • by Muzzammil Bambot - Mon Oct 8, 2012 via web

    Great Post Greg.

    With reference to Point No 3. - "One suggestion is to develop search-engine-optimized proprietary content for your website, so your firm can stay in front of clients and potential clients when they are searching in Google for relevant topics and services." ; This might be only one URL that is content and search engine optimized for a particular Keyword.

    What about the other 6 URL's for that brand term? That also influences the consumer which in turn creates his perception

    For that I would suggest that, in addition to creating a SEO friendly website, also make sure that your Google Places listing is in place, Your LinkedIn page is in place only the positive articles that you have published on third party platforms are optimized for a potential customer to see. Also you need to see that websites like Glassdoor and Rip-off report or Yelp have good content on them in case of B2B businesses. If not, some immediate action should be taken.

    All this and more taken care of should ultimately help you achieve long term positive PR which could later on drive much higher sales.

  • by Alyona Kalachova Wed Oct 17, 2012 via web

    Good article. But nothing new. "Get inside your targets' heads" is really import point. I always try to put myself in my client's shoes.

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