Someone recently said to me that “any publicity is good publicity." Personally, I couldn’t disagree more. Bad public relations confuses customers and destroys brand loyalty. But what defines bad PR?
Running my own streetwear label I've had firsthand experiences the ramifications of bad, off-brand marketing and misplaced advertising.
Public relations is not just about what people say about your brand, it encompasses everything customer facing. Advertising, product placement, partnerships, sponsorships, customer support, etc.
Where you advertise and feature your brand, or products, is dictated by your brand identity and getting this right is paramount to successful branding.
Successful brands have a strong brand identity that resonates throughout their target market, connecting them to the brand on an emotional level. Simon Sinek puts it, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” That one sentence makes so much sense. The brands you love, and brands you like to buy from, should hold the same values you do. They represent your lifestyle and it’s this ‘like mindedness’ that connects you with the brand.
Too often I see and talk to companies that have fantastic products, but who fail to connect with their market because they have no defined branding. You can’t be all things to all people. If you are, then you’re mediocre and people will neither love you nor hate you.
Defining and understanding your target market and creating marketing material that emphasizes their lifestyle is key to market connection. There are plenty of successful companies that sell their products for exuberant prices because customers buy into the lifestyle that a brand represents.
So once you have your brand identity and know who your target market is it’s easy to see what publications, blogs and other media channels you should be featured in. It’s very tempting to just take any media placement you’re offered, but placing your brand alongside others that are thought lesser by your target market is bad for your brand. Those brands are only pulling your brand image down. This is bad PR.
What you want is to get your brand featured alongside brands you and your target market aspire to. You want them to ‘increase your brands image’.
Tina Moore, Fashion Editor of Remix Magazine says, “As a fashion magazine we too have a defined target market and we are constantly turning down advertising and placement requests from brands that do not fit with our readership base.”
I learnt a lot about PR and marketing though my now defunct clothing label. We grew fast and we did do a lot of placements into magazines and newspapers that, looking back, we shouldn’t have. We bastardized the brand, to a degree, and we lost a lot of core followers. Think about it like a friend who’s suddenly spending time with a crowd of people you don’t get on with. You feel disconnected with that friend and you’re more than likely going to go your separate ways.
Good PR is not easy but I believe it all comes down to your brand’s identity and values. Know your brand values, what does your brand stand for? Stay true to your values and base your marketing decisions from them.