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Why Every Business Needs PR While They Grow

Michelle Garrett

Whether or not you do it yourself, use a consultant, an agency, or have an in-house PR pro, every business stage needs public relations. Since businesses need to interact with the public, government, their competition, partners, and clients (whether that is other businesses or the public), managing relationships and perceived business value are essential.

While PR is experiencing a bit of a renaissance as the value of earned media and backlinks seems to be at the top of many brands’ list of digital marketing initiatives, there are still those companies who seem to feel they won’t benefit from public relations.

The truth is, companies at EVERY stage can benefit from PR.

Every business needs PR, even companies at the top of their game shouldn’t overlook the value of what public relations brings to their brands.

Why PR Is Beneficial to ANY Brand

As ways to get the word out about your product or service increase with the proliferation of social media and consumers’ access to information, public relations still leads the pack. Why?

“PR, unlike paid marketing, creates a different dynamic,” says Peter Himler, founding principal, Flatiron Communications and president of the Publicity Club of New York

Earned media coverage, as third-party validation, still has the greatest capacity to generate action.”

Why? “Positive news stories, amplified in social media, can serve as powerful endorsements and a boost to brand reputation,” Himler says. “Unfortunately, the reverse also holds true. Think of poor Papa John.”

And because the news cycle moves so quickly now, Himler says it’s vital that businesses persist—in good times or in bad—in engaging editorial decision-makers to maintain a positive branded footprint in the media.

Brands at Different Stages Benefit in Different Ways

Companies at various stages, such as those growing, struggling or succeeding, can all take advantage of what public relations helps them achieve.

Growing Brands

Early and mid-stage companies need visibility. They benefit from media exposure and brand recognition. Well-timed articles can help boost efforts to launch new products or roll out solutions.

“Early on, PR creates crucial awareness for your company. A new business is like that tree in the forest that falls down with no one around it. If no one is talking about your business, does it even exist?” Jesse Ghiorzi, director of brand strategy at Charge

Working with a PR firm can also help early-stage brands define messages that resonate with their target audiences. Public relations pros are skilled at helping clients position themselves for success.

Yet another benefit of PR can be drawing talent to a brand. If a company is growing, it needs to hire strong employees. If it appears in publications and on social media in a favorable light, it’s more likely to be compelling to potential new hires. Further, it can help retain employees who may take pride in seeing the name of the company they work for in lights.

Struggling Brands

For companies that are struggling, a PR pro can help uncover stories they can tell that will bring them more visibility.

“If your business is struggling, you might be cutting back on marketing and ad budgets. The right PR tactics can help you stretch that marketing budget by getting your business covered in key publications at a fraction of the cost compared to a paid placement,” says Ghiorzi.

And, if a brand has spent time in the past building a following, it can leverage that audience to help support it during tougher times.

Successful Brands

Brands with momentum may believe they have no need for PR. Quite the contrary, says Himler.

“Many esteemed brands with large followings on social media may have less of a need for traditional PR, i.e., media relations. They simply announce their news via their ‘owned’ channels and it propagates from there.”

Himler continues, “However, most companies—big and small—do not enjoy the same luxury as an Apple or Google or Amazon. They must engage the beat reporters who follow their industry, or company awareness and esteem can deteriorate. Then, they may just end up in the trash heap of brands that have lost their luster.”

“When the going is good, why not start telling your story to your audience? Because there will come a time when the economy is not so good, and you need customers to know who you are,” says Brad Marley, consultant, and owner of Yelram Media

“When that happens, it’s not as if a brand can snap its fingers and generate momentum. if you’re waiting until the bust to invest in PR to generate publicity, you’ve waited too long.”

Every business needs PR, no matter their size or age.


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Building your brand through Public Relations

With the pace of the technological innovation, the needs and desires of consumers change faster than ever. Companies need to keep up with these changes, adapting their brands to the ways people are communicating.

PR professionals understand this more than anyone and are always on the lookout for new ways to shape the brand strategy around the latest trends.

An essential aspect of a modern comms strategy is timing; it’s now more vital than ever that a company knows when it’s time to shift their brand message, with buy in from the C-Suite and that companies agree to consider a PR communications-first approach.

How Brands Have Changed

Historically, the idea of branding was a static concept focused on the way a company looked—the logo, the style guide, etc.—and how it made people feel. Nowadays, brands are dynamic; they breathe, live, and grow with the market and consumer preferences.

A comms team can encourage a brand to evolve by using some of what Dan Hill calls “PR Superpowers,” which include:

  • Leveraging influencer relationships
  • Understanding the new industry trends
  • Gaining insights from listening to their audiences, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more

The job of a communications team has gone from telling stories, to crafting one based on real data from their customers and market.

How to Be a Brand Leader

If PR professionals want to lead their company’s brand strategy, they need to assume the role of a “brand leader,” and not just a “brand manager.

Here’s how Dan breaks down the differences between one and the other:

pr can lead

The key to becoming a brand leader is to be an active member of the communications team, think strategically, focus on the vision, and on the people that make the company.

Active Communication

In order to be able to listen to what the market and consumers are saying, a PR professional needs to implement an active communications strategy.

Active communication means that the PR professional needs to stop broadcasting messages and focus on creating an opportunity to listen to what their audience has to say, what they like, and how they behave. It means taking those insights and making actionable business decisions.

Brand Analytics

A communications team needs to be able to base its decisions and craft their brand’s story based on real data. To this extent, there is a suite of media intelligence tools that allow PR professionals to:

  • Find the right tone around a conversation, see the number of people having a given conversation, and their geo-location
  • Track key themes
  • Measure share of voice

This data allows a PR and marketing team to pinpoint and broadcast messages based on what an audience says they want to hear.

How to Build a Brand in Motion

If a brand wants to stay up to date with trends, it needs to stay competitive by:

  • Formulating clear and defined goals
  • Making data-driven decisions
  • Striving for continuous improvement
  • Focusing the mission on what it’s best at

You can see the differences between a brand in motion versus a static one:

pr can lead


Brands will continue to evolve. Instead of guessing what they need to do to create change, PR pros have a variety of media intelligence options that allow them to listen to their audience to evolve organically and market more actively. This opens up an opportunity for active audience engagement; find what your audience likes and with this information, improve the way you communicate messages.

PR can lead the way by implementing these tactics. Soon you’ll be on the road to cultivating a brand that is able to adapt, change, and grow exponentially.

By Ivan Kreimer


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The real power of a brand lies in memory

I have seen ‘brand’ referred to as if it were something to rank alongside production, supply chain and capital; a part of doing business rather than something reflective of how people remember their interaction with a brand. But to do so diverts attention from the importance to shaping and framing those memories to best effect.

The real power of a brand comes from its ability to alter future category choices in its favor: to make people more willing to buy the brand than they would be otherwise and pay the price asked. This is why it is so important to establish motivating feelings, ideas and associations linked to the brand in people’s memories, so that when they try to make up their own minds about a purchase those impressions shape the way they respond.

Brand is not just a thin veneer created by a distinctive logo, a nice design and some carefully crafted ads; it is everything that people experience, which means that whether a brand adds value to people’s lives is paramount. Experience of the product or service is ultimately going to trump anything else the brand owner says and does. But like everything else that experience is mediated by memory.

“There is confusion between experience & memories, we actually don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences.” Daniel Kahnemann

Only exceptional experiences make a difference to future behavior, most people do not think about their use of a brand, and most interactions leaves people’s memories unchanged, even if it might habituate them to using the brand. In the absence of a really positive experience that makes a customer feel valued marketing can frame their experience, influencing what people remember and guiding future purchase behavior.

Similarly, marketing activities that create positive memories before people even think about shopping a product category can influence what people remember when they do come to buy. The influence of this marketing is all the more powerful because exposure is decoupled from the purchase decision. People do not fear being manipulated by advertising because they cannot remember when or where their impression was formed.

Of course, this does not mean that marketers can forget about search marketing or sales activation, but now the challenge becomes one of triggering positive and motivating memories rather than trying to make a sales pitch, helping people respond to ideas and feelings that already exist rather than trying to create them on the fly.

So why do you think that so many people relegate ‘brand’ to being one more thing to do than encompassing everything people experience?

by Nigel Hollis


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The Art of Business Story Telling for Small Businesses

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Launching your marketing plan successfully in 3 phases

By Riro Jeremy

Having a concrete marketing plan therefore becomes a necessity for your business right from the onset when you are developing your start up and growth strategies. As opposed to the traditional marketing strategies which mainly involved mainstream media marketing through newspapers, radios and television; today marketers are turning online to reach their target audiences there. With high internet penetration across the world today, most people are spending more hours looking for information, news and entertainment online. It is therefore futile to invest heavily on offline advertisement while most of your customers will be found on different online platforms at any given time of the day.

Reaching out to your target customers online can however be a big challenge due to the noise found in the internet. To successfully maneuver through the noise in the internet and get your marketing messages across to your customers much effectively you will need to plan ahead and execute your marketing strategy in a systematic manner. One of the successfully proven strategies to launch your marketing plan includes three phases starting with strategic market positioning, followed by blogging and finally advertising.

Phase 1 – Strategic Positioning

To aim your guns in the right direction during an assault, you will need to be positioned in the right place and at the right time. Strategic positioning of your business within the industry therefore comes first even before you start developing your marketing content and designing your marketing materials. You first have to define who exactly your customer is and why they should buy from you and not from your competitors. Having a specific market segment that you are targeting helps you to refine your value proposition for them and customize your products for them such that you are able to deliver a compelling sales pitch to them at ease.

After establishing your strategic position, you need to accumulate enough ammunition and protective gear before you launch an assault. As a business owner, you will need to develop unique branding for your business in order to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Your business name and your business logo must all communicate the values that your business stands for. Most importantly, your business name and logo should resonate with your customer needs and the solution you are providing for them. Making both attractive and easy to remember will give you an edge over the rest of the competitors.

Finally, to ensure you are ready to start your live marketing, you will need to create an online presence by developing a website. Gone are the days when your website used to be an information centre about your business; today, your websites needs to have more functions such that your customers are able to interact with it and even transact business without your physical input in the process. The key thing to consider is having excellent user experience on your website.

Phase 2 – Blogging

Much on information, news and entertainment is found online and people are spending increasingly more hours in the internet nowadays. Having a social marketing and communication strategy will help you reach out to this online audience much faster and more efficiently than using the traditional methods of marketing. To kick off your marketing after developing your brand and online presence, you will have to invest in an excellent blog that sets you aside as a thought leader in your products, sector, industry and the markets that you operate in.

To support your blogging initiatives, you will need to launch digital PR and partnering in order to also monitor conversations about your brand, word of mouth and online reputation that your business is creating over time. Using viral videos and guerilla marketing will also drive traffic to your online site and you stand a chance to convert the traffic into customers. In addition, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and link-building will increase your visibility incredibly within the noisy and congested internet environment.

Phase 3 – Advertising

Building on the already established online presence and the growing online traffic and brand recognition through blogging, you can now venture into the final step of advertising. This will take different forms both online and offline; but you will definitely need to invest first in online advertising channels such as Google AdWords among others. Strategic PR campaigns through the mainstream media such as TVs and radio will at this point perfectly compliment your established brand name and create massive offline awareness of your brand and products. Other silent advertising strategies involve speaking at conferences or in media interviews in order to establish yourself and your brand as an authority in whatever business you are in.

Essentially developing and executing a successful marketing plan by following the above three phases should take you about 18 to 24 months; but the resulting brand loyalty will help keep you ahead of your competition and generate rising profits for your business, hence growing your wealth in the long run.

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How this Accra Restaurant Uses WhatsApp Marketing to Keep 6,000 Customers Coming Back

By Emmanuel Quartey

Burger & Relish is a popular American diner-style restaurant with two locations in Accra, Ghana — one in Osu (a commercial district), and another in East Legon (a quiet, upscale neighborhood).

In this exclusive article, Sean Burrowes, General Manager of Burger & Relish’s East Legon location, takes us deep into how his restaurant uses WhatsApp to keep his customers coming back.

Think of WhatsApp as a customer service channel for your best clients, *not* a mass advertising medium

WhatsApp is undeniably one of the most dominant forms of communication in the emerging world, and Accra is no different. Everyone uses WhatsApp — it transcends age, gender, and socio-economic status.

Because WhatsApp is so pervasive, marketers have been quick to attempt to use it to push their wares, but Burrowes recommends that a better approach is to think of the app as a direct line to your best existing customers.

“I think people are a bit fatigued with receiving marketing messages via WhatsApp,” says Burrowes. “A year or so ago, few companies were sending WhatsApp messages, but a lot businesses are doing so now, most of them badly, with the result that you’re starting to see less engagement.”

A more effective WhatsApp strategy, Sean suggests, is to think of WhatsApp as a direct line to your best, most engaged existing customers.

“When I send out a WhatsApp broadcast, I often get replies back. Sometimes they want to know if a certain dish is still on a menu, and this is a great opportunity to educate about our offerings and even upsell them on new ones. Other times, they want to flag an important issue they were uncomfortable mentioning in person, and that becomes an opportunity to address a customer service issue and improve our operations. We’ve found WhatsApp to be great as a customer support tool.”

 To get people to opt-in to receiving WhatsApp messages, tap into their FOMO (fear of missing out)

Across both restaurant locations, Burger & Relish has nearly 6000 people signed up to receive WhatsApp messages — about 4000 phone number for their Osu location collected over 2 years, and about 1,500 phone numbers for their East Legon restaurant, collected in about 4 months.

To acquire these phone numbers, Sean and his team first get a sense of whether the guest is clearly enjoying themselves. If so, they mention events that’ll be happening at the restaurant throughout the week, and ask if the guest would like to receive a reminder about future events via WhatsApp.

“We have multiple events at Burger & Relish during the week, so we use that as a hook to pique people’s interest. I train my waitstaff to collect numbers, but there’s only a light script, otherwise the delivery will be too robotic. Each team member is invited to bring their own style to it.”

Waitstaff are held accountable for growing the restaurant’s WhatsApp phone number database.

“Each waiter has a sheet where they list the numbers they’ve collected that day, and I make sure to review it so that my team knows that this is something that is important, and that’s a core part of their responsibility.”

Segment your WhatsApp Broadcast Lists

At the end of each day, the new numbers collected by the team is entered into WhatsApp Broadcast Lists on a company phone.

These lists are very intentionally organized.

“What most other companies do is that they just dump numbers into lists. What we do at Burger & Relish is that we add their number to a variety of named segments. For example, a guest who came with kids will get added to the Families Lists, young adults and college folks get added to Student Lists, etc. This helps us tailor messages to specific target groups in a way ensures that the message resonates.”

Create a distinct brand voice and tone

Every company has a personality that reflects their target audience, and Sean recommends ensuring that the WhatsApp messages are similarly on-brand.

“There’s actually a difference between how the two Burger & Relish restaurants talk to their respective WhatsApp lists. Our Osu location is very popular with expats, whereas most of our clientele in East Legon is a Ghanaian audience that usually comes to our restaurant to celebrate a specific event. This definitely influences my tone when messaging our East Legon customers, all the way down to the kinds of pop-culture references I make.”

The timing of messages is important

Sean recommends thinking carefully about when your target audience is most likely available to engage with your message.

“I send out messages at one of three times during the day: around 7 AM (so that it’s one of the first things people see when they wake up), around noon (so they see it during their lunch break), or somewhere between 5 to 7 PM (when people are deciding where to go eat out). I find that messages sent during times when people are likely to be busy result in fewer responses.”

Train your audience to respond

Businesses get the greatest return on investment when customers think of WhatsApp as a two-way communication channel. To get them there, it’s important to “train” them to respond to messages.

“Occasionally, I’ll do a small giveaway (eg. a free soft drink with any purchase) where people need to reply via WhatsApp to qualify for the deal. I find that this is a great way of getting people to reply for the first time, and after that, they start to think of the Burger & Relish WhatsApp not as mass advertiser, but a direct customer service line to their friends at the restaurant.”


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But some new entrants aren’t bound by this narrative, and are uncovering opportunities with lucrative potential. 2K Market is one of those.

Launched in January, the online retail store has cornered a niche for itself and is so far proving extremely lucrative. By offering largely household products under the price of N3000 ($9), it is managing to capture an attractive number of cost-driven online shoppers who prioritize cost whenever making shopping decisions.

In this interview, the founders of 2K Market, Kelechi Nwaozuzu and Emeka share more on the inspiration behind the brand and why they believe it will blossom into a household name.

Your motivation for being an entrepreneur

There are a million and one reasons why people become entrepreneurs. To provide a solution, to help people, to bridge existing gaps. When we decided to start, it was because we felt challenged to help create a platform for people whom we felt have great potentials but were not recognised for the lack of a platform. Being entrepreneurs put us in a better position to channel our vision of helping people live comfortably without breaking the bank. We are taking full control of the platform we have designed to impact positively on the lives of people.

Were you always certain the entrepreneurial life was for you?

Kelechi: For me, I always knew there was so much more to life than running a 9 to 5. I never pictured myself doing that for a long time. I always wanted to be my own boss but I knew that it would not be easy to attain but I was and still am willing to follow on with that dream however long it takes.

Emeka: Not really. As a child, I had dreams of having a white collar job. I envisioned myself working in an organization with an ideal environment and a mouth-watering salary. But that mindset changed later. For one, there are thousands of graduates that are unemployed, so there was no guarantee that I would get my dream job after graduation and NYSC. Secondly, I saw a need in Nigeria’s Ecommerce space, one which its solution will better the lives of many. So, rather than focus on white collar jobs, I started thinking about problem solving.

What is the story behind the 2k Market brand name?

We wanted a unique name, one that that will perfectly describe who we are and what we do. We are an online market where buyers shop for products that are only two thousand nine hundred and ninety nine naira(2999Naira) and below. Hence the name 2kMarket.

What kind of products are you focused on, and why?

When the idea of 2kMarket was birthed, we planned on having products that cut across as many sectors as possible. For now the products available on 2kmarket are products whose price range fit into the scope of our market and majority of them are household items as we are looking to meet the immediate needs of Nigerians. Since our launch on the 15th of January, we have had several people and companies reach out to us and we’re working to ensure that in the near future, we will expand our site to accommodate products that cut across many more sectors in order to meet the needs of many more people.

You seem to have launched right in the thick of Nigeria’s current economic crisis. Did this in anyway influence the brand strategy in terms of retailing largely low-cost products?

Our major goal like we mentioned earlier was/is to solve a problem, in this case the high cost of quality products especially in this period of recession. We had planned our launch much earlier but due to some unforeseen circumstances, it had to be postponed. As a matter of fact, we think it is pure coincidence that the economic situation makes our market even more appealing. We are sure many people find it comforting to still get high quality products at an affordable price especially in this period of economic crises.

If managing a business during an economic crisis is usually a struggle, then starting out should feel like hell. Has this been the case for 2k Market?

Every business faces several challenges but what distinguishes a business that is able to survive and thrive is consistency, hard work and commitment. In all sincerity, It has not been rosy at all. There are a plethora of challenges and obstacles that we have faced starting up 2kMarket. It was challenging from the onset getting sellers to trust our platform. It was a challenge deciding on the right quality of products to put up on the site. It was also a bit difficult getting some sellers to adjust their prices to fit our market price. Managing the business as a whole and keeping it running has been a herculean task. It takes a lot to gain the trust of Nigerians, to create brand awareness, as well as to get people to actually shop on 2kMarket. All of these cost time, hard work and money. All three we’re willing to give.

Currently, what would you consider your greatest daily challenge(s) in managing 2k Market?

It is quite difficult to single out one challenge as being the greatest daily challenge. Each day poses a new challenge, which most times we successfully overcome. There are challenges with processing some orders, delivery of some orders, creating awareness, building trust and managing our social media pages. For now, we could say one challenge we are hoping to overcome soon is getting word out there to millions of Nigerians that there exists a budget-friendly, pocket-friendly online store with high quality products.

What measures do you put in place from a strategic point to address these challenges?
We make it a point of duty to learn from every new experience and to ensure that in all, we satisfy our customers. For the issue of processing orders, we try to make the process as seamless as possible for both the sellers and the buyers by working with a host of competent and efficient courier service providers. We’re currently working on creating a system where we can easily process an order swiftly. The good news is that so far, we have not failed to meet the expectations or needs of any of our customers and we hope to continue to maintain such good records. As for the awareness, we’re utilising our social media pages to the best of our ability.

The ecommerce wave that stormed Nigeria, and Africa as whole, just a few years ago seem to have cooled off. Do you think this is accurate and if so what can you attribute this to?

We are of the opinion that Nigerians are slow to embrace change sometimes and when there is no more “thrill”, are also quick to let go of it. The ecommerce wave hit Nigeria real big, but due to many repeated bad experiences, people are losing faith in online shopping. Also the economic recession is not helping matters. Things are getting much more expensive to buy, so shopping online is not much of a priority for some. The fact that there has been a calm is definitely not accurate and we hope to be able to help create that excitement and excellent customer service once more.

How is 2k Market strategically positioning itself to push beyond the limits of the sector?

Like every organization that means business, 2kMarket has big plans for the near future. We are looking at expanding our business and reaching our full potential. We have plans to house many more products from many sectors of the economy (especially agriculture), we have plans of partnering with so many companies and individuals. We hope to bring them on to our platform with our carefully mapped out strategies. We are also looking to expand beyond the Nigerian borders but as we earlier highlighted, these are feats that will not happen in one day but we’re willing to and are already working towards achieving them.

What key trends do you expect to see in the ecommerce sector in the coming years?

Each day, technology all over the world is expanding and newer concepts are emerging. We anticipate that once again, the ecommerce wave will hit Nigeria and this time with much more force that will have lasting effects. Many Nigerians will embrace this and fully utilize all that the sector has to offer. Many other ecommerce sites will emerge and try to win the hearts of Nigerians. It will take something special to be a major player then and we are gearing up for this. We expect to see the reintroduction of trade by barter ecommerce style too.

What do you think the coming years hold in store for this brand?
The future of 2kMarket is a very bright one. In just two months of existence we have achieved quite a lot and we hope to achieve many more great things. We have chosen not to rest on our oars and we foresee 2kMarket being a widely recognized brand in Nigeria, Africa and hopefully, the world. We will win the hearts of Nigerians and constantly exceed expectations by offering at all times the Ultimate Customer Experience.


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