Public relations is no quick win. Though first impressions certainly do count, you might not change people’s minds, their behaviour or make them act differently on your first engagement with them. It’s often a lengthy process, which takes time and patience – at the end of the day people don’t generally jump into decisions lightly.
In fact, according to research from marketing and sales software company, Hubspot’s State of Marketing Report 2021, 47% of people only begin to engage with a company or product after they view three or five pieces of content from them.
So, it is clear to see that it pays in public relations to continue to produce engaging, thoughtful and effective content targeted at potential customers in the long-term. Though, of course, short and powerful campaigns can work, when you’re looking at a strategic consistent approach to public relations, it has to be with a long-term view.
It takes time to build up a relationship with customers and, though reputations can be ruined overnight, it takes a concerted long-term effort to build them. That’s why, when business schools and universities are looking to plan a specific public relations campaign, the view of the project and the results and metrics have to be over years not months, if you are to see any impact for your efforts.
Those schools that do take this approach are much more likely to be effective with their public relations campaign, seeing real successful results. However, remember it can take time to perhaps convince non-public relations experts that the campaign is working, therefore it is important to stick to these tips when implementing a long-term PR strategy:
1. Don’t expect quick hits
Though news travels quickly, and the world of media is constant, when you’re trying to build a reputation, it’s not a short-lived effort. If you’re looking to implement a long-term strategy and really successfully change people’s behaviour, then you have to do it over time. At the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine that someone would become a customer after just one piece of advertising – especially when it comes to expensive products like investing in your education – a decision no one takes lightly.
So when implementing a long-term strategy, it’s important to keep your expectations, and the expectations of those around you, realistic. Do not expect quick hits, or customers buying products or courses after one article. Your name and what you do has to marinate in the mind of customers. One piece of PR coverage can give them a nudge to your site, another to download a programme booklet, another to follow your social media pages, and so on, it’s a lengthy process, but one that is effective if done well.
2. Don’t let your standards slip
When you’re not experiencing quick hits and wins, and being able to share the successes of your campaign early on, it can be incredibly tempting to become lax with the content you’re producing. Many could begin questioning the point of the content, and whether it is worth your time if it’s not having the immediate desired effect. But this is a dangerous thing to do.
Given that many people will actually fully engage after a minimum of three pieces of coverage, it is important that the standard remains consistently high. If people get to the fifth or sixth piece of content from your organisation and believe it to be below par, the previous steps of engagement will be verging on pointless, and you risk losing people’s interest.
3. Stick to your guns
Often, after not seeing immediate success from the campaign, it could also be easy to question whether your content has been right from the beginning. Are people perhaps not engaging with us because the content has not been impactful? Are people thinking the content is not interesting? Or, are people simply not even reading it at all.
However, if you’ve done your research correctly, and have developed a very specific, detailed and knowledgeable campaign, then you must stick to your guns. It’ll take time, yes, but if you know your audience and the content they want, and are matching this up with your own content, then continue to pursue this project.
4. Make sure your content is specific
One problem with many long-term strategies is that the content becomes less and less specific as the campaign goes on. If you want to be known as leaders in finance for instance, make your all your effective content is focused around finance. Don’t be straying into other similar areas, because something may be interesting for an audience, but doesn’t necessarily fit your actual goals. Make sure all your proactive content for the campaign is very specifically tailored to the campaign’s goals.
5. Know your target audience
A rule of thumb for public relations generally, and not just long-term strategies, is knowing your audience inside out. Any campaign, long or short, will not be effective unless it’s targeting the exact, relevant people. Therefore, before the campaign even begins, you must understand exactly who your target audience is, exactly what they read and what they are interested in, and exactly how to reach them. Don’t begin your campaign before doing this.
6. Set goals to see your progress
Goal-setting is important in any public relations campaign. Though quick hits don’t always arise, it’s important to set some distinct targets throughout a long-term strategy to just ensure you’re on track with the goals you’re looking to achieve. Whether this be through metrics, result-gathering, sales, growth or increased reputation, it is important to measure the results and revert these back to the campaign’s original goals.
It’s clear to see a long-term PR strategy is optimal when you’re wanting to change the behaviour of people, drive applications and sales of products or boost your reputation. Don’t be disheartened by the speed, always stick to your guns and your approach, and ensure that every single campaign is well researched before you even begin.