In recent times the consumer and retail industry has faced some hard times with a decrease in consumer spending and a tightened credit market. Many retailers slashed expenses, including marketing, in order to stay afloat and what has resulted is a marketplace that is considerably quieter in terms of businesses promoting their brands.
Now, with the light starting to shine at the end of the tunnel and consumer confidence beginning to rise, the time is ripe for businesses to stand up, be heard and tell their story.
In consumer campaigns public relations is an important part of the marketing mix for consumer brands as it serves to educate customers on new products and services as well as establishing a level of trust in a brand.
A PR program can work very effectively when it forms part of an overall marketing strategy, which may also include advertising, direct marketing, customer loyalty programs and online marketing.
Effective communication that achieves cut through with its audience is all about the repetition of key messages. These key messages communicate the brand's identity, its values and what's on offer. When these messages are consistent and repeated throughout the marketing mix, they are more likely to reach the target audience and have an impact.
While media relations forms an important part of consumer PR campaigns, consumer communication is becoming increasingly more one-to-one, particularly in the online environment. Audiences are looking to be engaged by brands but not be sold-to by them.
Online presents a new avenue for building a brand and enriching the customer service experience. Product and service information can be searched for at any time of the day and a customer can share stories about their good or bad experiences with a brand. Now more than ever, consumer brands have the opportunity to directly access their customers, allowing them to more readily identify with the brand and its values. Businesses can also begin to discover the wants and needs of their customers and immediately address these.
In order to make this interaction a success a public relations strategy that sets out specific objectives is needed. The strategy should identify the target audiences and puts into place a plan to monitor and engage audiences in a manner fitting for the medium. An overall consumer PR strategy will integrate traditional media relations, digital PR with an overall communication strategy.