April 10th 2012
Sharing all the exciting news about your company – new projects, products, promotions, special events, charitable involvement and more – is the foundation of solid marine industry public relations, whether you’re targeting the marine trade or consumers. Publicity positions your company as newsworthy and “pushes out” your messages to the audiences you need to reach. When your goal is to “pull” people toward your business, however, one-way marketing alone won’t do. Here are some engaging PR ideas to help bait the hook.
One size does not fit all. The cardinal rule of marketing is to know your customers. It’s obvious that all customers are not alike, and with so many marine related companies and service options to choose from, consumers need to know why they should come to you. So while your quality, reliability and new products and services are outstanding, you also may need to engage your customers on a more personalized level. Effective PR offers many different ways to help build loyal relationships and valuable referrals. Some people are excited by special offers presented to them via personalized correspondence; others appreciate your supporting their charity of choice or inviting them to special events. The bottom line is that boat owners have multiple places to find reliable products with attentive service at acceptable prices. Your job is to convince them that your company is personally better for them than the rest.
Social media build community. The marine industry is inherently a social place. Chances are your customer is already involved in online conversations. Twitter, in particular, is the real time forum for all types of chatter. Other sites, with Facebook at the top of the list, draw substantial traffic. When you join the conversation, you show that your company is listening and learning from clients and potential clients. Responding to the good and the bad shows that you care about what people think. Social media platforms such as Facebook and blogs offer many creative ways to converse with the boating public and get them actively involved with what’s going on in your business. The barrier and cost element is almost nonexistent, especially if your public relations firm has strong capabilities in both traditional and social media. Join the conversation by creating a community for your brand. Start small and gradually expand your use of social media platforms. You will get out of it what you put into it, and many of your customers are already there.
Embrace mobile marketing. Speaking of conversations, by 2014, mobile internet is projected to take over desktop internet usage. One other thing to consider is that Americans on average spend 2.7 hours per day socializing on their mobile devices. This only scratches the surface of the potential for staying connected through customers’ smartphones. Custom applications allow companies to inform consumers about special events, new products, promotions and everything that’s going on. Don’t forget about optimizing your website for mobile as well.
Get the crew on board. All the external PR in the world won’t work without positive support from front-line personnel. The manager or owner of a business may have the best intentions in the world, but the service team has the most public contact. While training your team is more an operations responsibility than a PR function, it is profoundly important to a company’s relationship with the public and can sink a good PR program like the Titanic. Companies can build loyalty among associates through participation in news stories, company newsletters, awards, charitable projects and other activities that foster a sense of community and mutual commitment. Public relations professionals work with companies on tactics that engage their sales and service teams in ways that promote their vital role as public relations ambassadors.
Consumers have many choices and loyalty is hard to build. Visibility and engagement should be the goals of every company’s public relations plan.
By Daniel Grant