Public relations (PR) is one of the least understood aspects of a business when it comes to marketing. You might think that it is something costly that exists solely to create hype for your business. The truth is, PR is all about communication and persuasion through mainstream and online media to reach and engage with your potential customers. Here are 5 reasons why you should do PR for your business, with real-life success stories from Malaysian and Singaporean brands.
Establish your business as a thought leader
Customers' loyalty often goes to businesses that they trust and recognise. One way to cultivate this trust is to portray your business as an expert in the industry who is able to walk the talk , figuratively speaking. As PR consistently highlights your brand in a positive context, especially through the mainstream media, potential customers come to trust your business through these credible media that they have been following.
Myeongdong Toppoki leads the F&B industry
Starting out as a small kiosk in Sunway Pyramid in the year 2014, Myeongdong Toppoki (MDT) has expanded to 40 outlets nationwide within 6 years. They have consistently leveraged on PR to spread their brand story and initiatives. Just to name a few:
- In December 2019, Berita Harian reported that MDT has obtained Halal certification from JAKIM to reassure Muslims diners that the food served is indeed Halal.
- In April 2020, when MCO has started, MDT launched their own meal kits, known as MDT Apron, and made it known to the public through SAYS and The Star.
- In September 2020, MDT obtained MeSTI (Makanan Selamat Tanggungjawab Industri) certification from the Ministry of Health for its Food Processing Centres to prove their commitment to food safety assurance.
- In November 2020, Vincent Lua, the CEO of MDT, shared about his journey of growing this business and revealed that the business is expecting to go public in 2 years.
- In January 2021, Cravito Group, the parent company of MDT, launched a service that helps Malaysian restaurants by converting their under-utilised kitchen equipment for use by new virtual restaurants.
Besides attracting a wealth of customers to their Korean food business, MDT has established itself as a thought leader within the Korean food industry, positioning themselves in a favourable position for future partnerships and investments.
Build connections with your customers
Getting discovered by customers is just the first step in gaining their loyalty. Building a long-lasting relationship with your customers is the key to making them stay with your business. Customers want to be heard, they like businesses that listen to their needs. Effective use of PR not only engages your customers but also shows that your business is on the same page as them.
GSC kept their customers close despite the lockdown
Despite the pandemic that resulted in the closing of cinemas countrywide in early 2020, Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) managed to keep their customers engaged through social media by resonating with their feelings as one of them, who was also affected by the lockdown, through jokes and memes. Their iconic "Hello. Cannot." has since gone viral, they have even started selling merchandises with the social distancing and MCO theme. PR is a way to get close to your customers even in a situation where they are not able to engage in business with you.
Manage communication crisis at the forefront
Social media and the internet have enabled businesses to convey information easier but, like a double-edged sword, they also make issues spread like wildfire as it gets shared and becomes a hot topic among netizens. Issues about your business could start as a small complaint on the Facebook due to a misunderstanding. If left unattended or mishandled, it could spiral down quickly as the initially small complaint gets exaggerated and twisted along the way. PR initiatives help your business to communicate clearly and manage the crisis in a timely manner.
The dead lizard crisis in the packet of Irvin Singapore
Getting attention on the internet due to complaints of unhygienic food products could be a disaster to the entire business. Irvin Singapore faced a similar crisis when a customer discovered a dead lizard in their salted egg fish skin packet. The business apologised publicly and took matters into their own hands by carrying out an investigation immediately, besides offering refunds for customers who are not comfortable with consuming the snacks that they bought. This unfortunate incident was turned into good publicity, thanks to a good PR response.
Tell your story to influence others
There are millions of businesses out there vying for customers' attention, this influx of information could potentially drown out your business' voice. PR helps craft the story of your business from the most engaging angle that customers can relate to. It is often the story that makes people remember your business, not how well your product or service performs.
The nostalgic salted peanuts of Malaysia Airlines
With the international travel ban due to the pandemic in place, Malaysia Airlines reminded its customers the good old times of flying with them by selling their signature salted peanuts on their online store. The nostalgia of travelling on an airplane and memories of receiving good services from Malaysia Airlines had prompted its customers to share their experiences with Malaysia Airlines on social media, amplifying the organic buzz and word-of-mouth that has drawn more people to their business.
Save on advertising costs
Traditionally, the visibility of your business depends heavily on how much you are willing to spend on advertisements. Due to the expensive cost of advertising, the narration and copy of the advertisement are often straight to the point and appear hard-salesy, which can deter your audience. Unlike advertising, PR is about earned media that gets people to talk about your business without paying advertising fees.
A comparison between advertising costs and PR costs
The cost of getting featured in traditional media, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV, varies from RM10,000 to RM45,000 per feature, depending on the length and segment of the publication. For out-of-home advertising, more commonly known as outdoor advertising, costs at least 5 to 6 figures a month. These are usually one-off initiatives where once you stop paying, your visibility goes down as well.
The cost of a PR project can range from RM18,000 to 25,000, depending on the PR agency. A PR project is done with the aim to get a lasting impact on your brand visibility through unbiased feature and focuses on educating and informing the public. The scope of work usually includes:
- Building relationships with the media on behalf of your brand.
- Providing consultation and strategising the positioning of your business i.e. how to make your brand known to the public.
- Creating media materials, such as press releases, media pitches, articles, etc.
- Securing coverage and media opportunities for your brand through various platforms and channels.
- Evaluating the performance of each PR campaign by providing insights and secured outcomes throughout the campaign.
"Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for," said Helen Woodward, the first female advertising executive in the US. PR is not just about press releases, press conferences, engagement through influencers, online campaigns, or physical events. It is a channel that when used wisely, can result in exponential growth and increased brand recognition among your potential customers. Hence, it is recommended to work with a PR agency that has good track record to navigate the media landscape in Malaysia and get the most out of your PR efforts.
Special thanks to Elliot & Co for the content collaboration in this article. Elliot & Co is a PR agency that is devoted to telling the untold stories of their clients, bringing founders and businesses the recognition they deserve.