This month we wanted to take a step away from the marketing side of running your business, and discuss the importance of public relations. It is easy to group marketing, advertising and PR together, but they each have a different tactic and purpose.
The purpose of public relations is not to sell or promote your product or service, that is the role of marketing and advertising. Public relations is based on relationship management with potential and current customers, as well as maintaining and increasing awareness of your business to the public.
Incorporating four basic tactics of public relations into your business model will significantly increase the success of your business, relations with clientele and transparency with the public. The four tactics are:
- Social Media
- Media Pitching
- Personal Communications
Now, let’s break each of these tactics down even further.
Hosting events can have many purposes and be relatively inexpensive and simple or a little more pricey and large-scale. Events can be used to bring in new clients or connect with those who you currently work with. Below are two event suggestions and an explanation of their purpose and payoff.
- Open House/Boot Camp: Hosting an open house at your place of business is a great way to bring in new clients. A great way to encourage the public to come is to offer a free boot camp session on the day of your event. Saturdays are a great time to hold these events as you can draw in a crowd that traditionally works during the week. Having a day where people can attend your facility for free, have a tour or attend group classes allows people to learn more about your business in person and see if it is right for their needs.
This is a simple event to plan and would not require any additional resources. The only thing needed would be promotional materials to get the word out about the open house. This can be done by signs outside of the business or flyers around town.
- Customer Appreciation Event: Having a customer appreciation event brings together your clients and shows them how much their support and participation means to you and your business. This event could range anywhere from a day of free classes for current clients to a dinner party.
The planning required for this event would depend on the type of event you choose and what you want to incorporate. Overall, the purpose of the event is to keep your clients happy and continuing their service with you.
Events are an integral part of public relations because they provide a variety of opportunities for forming relationships and managing them. They also encourage a fun environment and deepen bonds made between customer and business.
We know all of you use social media platforms for your business, but it is becoming one of the most important components of public relations practices. It is not just about having social media accounts, it is about knowing how to use them and maintaining a balanced online presence. It is important to speak the same voice on each platform you use, and post on them equally.
Having a cohesive online presence shows that your business is technologically savvy, open to communication with the public and is transparent. Here are some suggestions on how to effectively utilize multiple social media platforms:
- Post about the similar topics on all social media platforms, but do not post the exact same thing on each platform. Variety is key.
- Understand who your audience is on each platform and gear posts towards what they are looking for. As a gym owner, posting fitness related content would be ideal.
- Respond to messages and inquiries you receive through social media.
- Use the same company image for all profile images.
- Don’t take on more than you can handle. It is better to be actively present on one platform than only post occasionally on a handful of platforms.
- Even if you don’t garner much interaction, it is still positive to post new content often.
- Encourage your clients to post about their workouts! A quick post from a client saying how sore they are from a workout can go a long way.
- As more clients post about your workouts, you can rapidly increase the size of your audience.
Pitching to the media can take many forms and requires extensive background research. This is one of the more tedious functions of PR, but tends to have the highest payoff. Media pitching is how your business can become featured in magazines, newspapers, television news, the radio or blogs. Any source of media attention raises awareness about your company and drives in new clients.
It is best to start local because that is where your potential clients are. These are our recommendations for how to effectively pitch to the media:
- Decide which kind of media source you want to target. (Blogs, newspapers, etc.)
- Research online to find the publications in your areas that have written articles about fitness or wellness businesses or small businesses in general previously.
- Compile a list of the author of these articles, their contact information and the title of the article you found.
- Reach out through email to each author and express your interest in being featured in their publication.
- Personalize the email and reference the previous stories they have written that relate to your business.
- Provide all of your information and details about your business, thank them for their time and wait for a reply!
- Check out this great link where you can get free publicity from reporters looking for articles to write. You never know when they need fitness content! http://www.helpareporter.com
In our personal lives, we place a high importance on open lines of communication in our relations with others, and your business should be no different. It is important to stay in contact with your customers and be sure to provide ample opportunities for them to express their opinions or give suggestions. These are a few ways we recommend communicating with your clients outside of their time in your place of business:
- Newsletter: Send out a newsletter bi-monthly or once a month to all of your clients. This can be a platform for new information, success stories or anything you want to communicate to your clients. Newsletters allow you to take full-reign on what you need to say and how you want to say it.
- Mobile Applications: We discussed the power of client-retention mobile apps in a previous blog post, and they come into play in public relations. These applications allow clients to stay connected to business happenings at all times and provide personal suggestions in another forum.
- Blog: Having a blog for your business provides a constant stream of information to your clients. Blogs allow you to post whatever you would like to share with your clients, whenever you want. They allow for creativity and freedom of expression and an opportunity for clients to feel more connected to your business.
Each of these four basic tactics will provide you with a comprehensive PR approach to your business. It would be daunting to take these all on at once, so we recommend starting with one or two of the functions and working your way up from there. Public relations is a lofty segment of the business model, so don’t let it overwhelm you right off the bat! It may take some time, but these tactics are long-term strategies that will have a greater impact and leave a lasting impression on the public.
Doing just one of these tactics, such as hosting a free boot camp or increasing your social media presence will noticeably increase your level of public awareness and improve relations with customers. We hope these suggestions will help explain PR and the ways you can incorporate more tactics of it into your business!
Natalie comes from a newspaper background with experience in field research, interviews and writing. She loves marketing and supports Fitness Website Formula’s mission in helping fitness professionals inspire our society with health and fitness.