Building an Awareness Campaign
Many professional firms’ PR campaigns are arduous hard labour for senior staff, costly, and ultimately counter productive. Let me explain:
Awareness campaigns should be built around client feedback, and lead to repeated and closer contact with them.
- “Arduous” – time and again senior staff are asked to dream up subjects to write about. They are not natural communicators, there will probably not be a topic of the moment that is a real crowd puller. They will spend valuable time trying to say something, ensuring its accuracy, editing and amending.
- “Costly” – most professionals will publish the article in a magazine or glossy paper that then will be posted to the client contacts – an immediate and comparatively significant expense.
- “Counter productive” – many of the publications will go to the wrong target, be binned en route, be unread. On those few occasions when the article is read, unless it really is of a staggeringly crowd pulling nature, it will do no more than confirm the reader’s awareness that your firm is what it is. It will hardly add to the firm’s identity, it will probably be boring!
The awareness programme could however be an entrée to a cost effective, easy and highly targeted Contact Machine . The process is depicted graphically below.
Step 1 begins with designing the questionnaire. Part of this is searching for accurate and operational feedback on your service. Part is investigating how former clients are responding to the market place, how they are foreseeing future trends, what special actions they have taken to help their clients, people, and management challenges (Golden Nuggets), and how their forward order book is developing.
Client feedback reinforces the mission, and underpins proposals.
As the responses come back and are discussed, so a picture will emerge, trends and golden nuggets, common ideas, opportunities and themes to be followed up and discussed. At the same time of course you will have started to redefine/confirm what your clients perceive as being special about your service, why and how they value you, why they rate you over the competition. It is vital to see the questionnaire not so much as a straight jacket as a platform for a structured debate. You are two informed business people discussing common issues, seeing how each can help the other, and whilst part of this debate is specifically about how well you and your firm have performed, this itself is also an example of a company wanting to use the recession to tighten its performance standards.
The responses lead to a simple paper setting out the clients’ reviews of you, highlighting your strengths and pointing up the action being taken to deal with any weaknesses. It also spends time summarising the results of the recession debates.
Send the paper to those clients, thank them for their comments and ask for specific follow up on a selected core area – a golden nugget, an area not covered etc. This gives the second contact point; it is direct, relevant, with the key decision makers, and over a matter that is of immediate interest to them.
Use the second feedback to edit the original paper. Now you may have an article for the media, for sending to all contacts, as the basis of a workshop with those client contacts and others, and you certainly have had two face to face opportunities to test your market. There is no waste of money or time.