These days PR budgets are tight and everyone is trying to do more with less. Advertising budgets have been slashed as well, so much of the burden of attracting prospects, job seekers, and influencers to brands falls on the PR team. Well, the good news is that the most powerful weapon is something that you probably already have. Your customers. Happy customers who will talk can make the difference between a successful PR operation and one that struggles. Here’s why.
Would you like to increase the effectiveness of your media pitches? One of the most effective methods for doing so is to include customer quotes and offer journalist the opportunity to interview customers. Journalists don’t like telling stories that only include the point of view of the brand. If you don’t offer a customer, the writer is left to their own devices to get a different angle. Not only does this decrease the chances that they will write the story at all, but it increases the chances they’ll reach out to a competitor. With a customer (or two) on board your pitch can be the whole package.
The importance of customer reviews these days can’t be overstated. If you need some backup for that statement, chew on this:
- 83% of consumers say online reviews influence their perception of a company
- 8 out of 10 internet users say that negative information online has made them change their minds about a purchase
- 67% of customers read 6 reviews or fewer
- Google is increasingly giving weight to reviews and 75% of people don’t go past the first page of search results
No PR person or team can eliminate the possibility of customers posting negative reviews, but we can have a major impact on how many positive reviews there are to overwhelm the negative. The interesting thing about reviews is that unhappy customers are much more likely to give them than the satisfied ones. That is unless someone asks. Requesting reviews from happy customers should be a key part of your PR strategy.
Your customer contacts are very likely connected to other people who are potential customers for your brand. What they say and share on social media can have a huge impact on the behavior of those prospects as well as the general amplification of your message. If you create useful, interesting and visually appealing content, your customers are likely to share it and engage with it. (Once again, if you ask.)
Case Studies (Sort of)
I’m not a huge fan of the old fashioned 3-page case study, but short vignettes about how customers are using your brand’s products or service in an interesting way can catch the attention of prospects and influencers. In addition, just listening to customers tell their stories can give you fresh ideas for future campaigns and pitches. Do your messages align with how customers see and use your product? Conducting success story interviews can help you find out.
Leveraging your customers for PR means building some kind of advocacy program. It doesn’t have to be formal, but it does need to be a regular part of your PR planning. There are some great tools on the market (Influitive is one example) that can help structure your approach to getting help from your most loyal fans.