Mary and Eike from our Public Relations department have compiled everything that Spreadshop newbies need to know about PR. With these tips, you’ll be a pro in no time!
In Part 1, Mary and Eike explain what PR is and how to develop your own PR strategy. Let’s get started!
What is “PR” Anyway?
PR stands for Public Relations. Every company, organization, famous person and Shop builds and maintains relationships with the public.
As a Shop owner, your “public” consists of your fans, customers, and the press. It’s easy to confuse PR with marketing, but they are two sides of the same coin. Good PR isn’t just about freebies, so before you go handing out promotions like beads on Mardi Gras, read on.
Wise words from Eike:
“Advertising is an encounter; PR is a relationship.”
Stroke your beard and let that one sink in.
Your public relations serve as the foundation of your advertising efforts. As the name implies, PR is about building a long-term relationship with your target group. You communicate with a potentially large public. While advertising is clearly about selling, PR is about building trust with your brand or Shop. In relationship terms, advertising is the pick-up line, while PR is picking up the kids from soccer practice on time.
Ok, so now you know what PR is (a relationship with the public) and whom it is aimed at (your target audience)… but how do you build a PR strategy?
Form your PR strategy
If you are at the very beginning of your PR work, write down what makes you and your Shop special. Go ahead, brag a little. Do some soul-searching and ask yourself what the main theme of your Shop is. What are your goals? Is your Shop about entertainment, your business, a team or organization? This takes some work in the beginning, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
You should be clear about the status quo of your Shop. Where are you now and where do you want to go in the future? Analyze your successes, failures and important milestones.
Here are some guiding questions to start with:
- What are the goals of my PR strategy?
- What is my target group and how can I expand it?
- How do I communicate my Shop’s story?
- How do I reach my target group?
- How do I increase my reach in the long run?
1. What are the goals of my PR strategy?
If you’re like most people, you probably want your Shop or brand to become more popular. The more concrete your idea of “popular” is, the better (think numbers). Ask yourself first: What is the current reach of my Shop? Where do I see potential for improvement? How have people reacted to my Shop so far? What has been successful and what has flopped? Are there certain numbers that I would like to reach?
Then set yourself concrete and realistic goals:
For example, you could
- aim to gain 50 new Facebook followers next month,
- set up your own blog, or
- appear in the press at least three times within the next year.
Manageable, specific goals will set you up for success in a way that goals like “achieve world domination” or “make a lot of money” probably won’t.
Now that your goals are clear, it’s time to define who it is that you want to reach with your Shop.
2. What is my target group?
Target groups vary wildly: they can be very large (ie. football fans) or incredibly niche (ie. people who take their poodles paragliding). The better you get to know your target group, the easier it will be for you to reach them. You can read more about how to perform a detailed target group analysis in this article on brand building.
If you know who your target group is, ask yourself where they are and which media channels you can use to introduce yourself to them.
You can reach your target group either directly – for example via social media – or indirectly via media they consume, such as the daily newspaper or online magazines.
If you sell dog motifs in your Shop, dog owners definitely belong to your target group. Find out where and how these dog owners exchange information!
If you’re a resident of Manhattan with designs featuring the NYC skyline, your Shop is aimed at all the people living in New York who love their city, as well as the hordes of tourists who are reminiscing about their last vacation and other fans of the city worldwide. In this case, it would be a good idea to set up your Shop internationally.
If you work as an illustrator, art-lovers are part of your target group. But such a group can be huge! We recommend that you home in on a more precise target group, for example by having a thematic continuity to your designs.
3. How do I communicate the “story” of my Shop?
You know who your target group is and have defined the goals you’d like to achieve. You’re doing great! But we’re not through yet… Now it’s time to think about the story you want to tell and how you can best communicate it.
Do you sell dog-themed products and have a furry friend of your own? Then share your everyday canine adventures with your followers and put that cuteness to good use. If you’re a talented illustrator, your fans are interested in how your designs are created: your studio space, time-lapse videos of your drawings, or a description of your creative process. If you sell “I love New York” T-shirts in the Shop, you can focus on Big-Apple-centric topics. Tourists who buy in your Shop are mainly looking for insider tips. In contrast, bona fide New Yorkers are more interested in practical things, like complaining about the taxis who park in bike lanes.
Be authentic, subjective, funny or anecdotal… just be you! In any case, the contents of your PR should not be aimed at fast sales, but rather at gathering in your target group on Google, Facebook, etc., building up an audience there and then getting them to connect to your brand over the long term.
4. How do I interact with my target group?
You will connect with your target group primarily through online platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. Choose the channels that suit you, your Shop and your target group.
Mary chimes in:
“The extent to which your followers interact with your content has a significant influence on your visibility in the social media. In order to appear in the newsfeed of your followers at all, the social network must rate your content as important. How often do you get in touch with others? How often do your fans get in touch with your site? What kind of posts do you share? Photos, videos, text contributions? Your posts will rank well when people respond with likes, shares and comments.”
Of course, this dynamic works both ways: The more people interact with your posts, the more visible you are. Publish content that relies on your followers’ feedback, such as small polls, sweepstakes or polls.
“Meanwhile, all social networks offer these poll features. It’s an easy way to keep your fans happy, attract new followers and improve your visibility.”
Simply sharing posts on Facebook usually doesn’t help. (By the way, we wrote an article about the Facebook algorithm, which you can view here.)
5. How do I increase my reach in the long run?
Your public relations work should be designed to remain constant and keep your target audience buzzing about you over the long run. Hardly anything attracts as much attention as a trending story has gone viral on major platforms such as Google and Facebook. If your Shop can tap into these trending topics, you’re sure to add to your customer base!
A little example: In February 2019, the Rhine-Neckar Professional Animal Rescue in southwestern Germany rescued a fat rat stuck in a manhole. The photo of the “Fat Rat” became a viral hit and more and more people began clamoring for merchandise. The animal rescue team reacted promptly and has since been selling T-shirts, bags and more with the Fat Rat motif in its Spreadshop.
Such stories should be the goal of your PR. But how do you establish contacts with the press and bring your stories to trade journals, magazines, blogs and the social media?
In the second part of our series, Mary and Eike from our PR department will explain how you can increase your reach by interacting with the press, customers and followers, and what you need to consider when building and maintaining your press contacts.