4 reasons you should be leveraging PR to grow your eCommerce brand
No matter the size and scale of your company, any savvy business leader will understand the importance of building and maintaining a good rapport with their publics.
Whether you're a local convenience retailer or a multinational conglomerate, we can all appreciate the fact that a healthy relationship between your business and customers is essential for long-term growth. One of the most effective ways to build that this relationship is through the use of PR (Public Relations).
Despite what you might think, every business utilises PR in some way or another. Whether it be via an entire team of expert publicists or simply a social media page managed in-house. If it involves communicating with your audience, it's the remit of PR.
So what exactly is PR and what makes it so powerful?
When asked what typical PR looks like, the average person would likely conjure up an image similar to Kim Cattrall’s morally ambiguous socialite, Samantha Jones from Sex and the City. Either that or a suited exec twisting the truth to get his client out of hot water!
Despite its reputation for fluffiness or downright deception, PR belies a clinical and strategic approach that can impact your business at every touchpoint. PR helps to build and maintain reputation, craft attention-grabbing messages and turn vast amounts of data into stories that will resonate with your audience. A good PR should have the mind of an analyst with the heart of a raconteur, providing the right blend of emotion and data. Below is a great example of how fast-food chain Burger King showed their compassion and support for restaurants during the Covid-19 pandemic in a clever and witty way - building their brand reputation - this is great PR.
So how does this translate to the world of e-Commerce and why should e-Comm managers be incorporating PR into their wider strategy?
1. Organic PR can make your Paid efforts far more cost effective
You may have designed and produced an excellent product, but its’ no secret that this alone isn’t enough to entice the increasingly discerning and well-informed modern consumer to part with their hard-earned cash.
So how do you cut through the noise? This is where PR can be worth its weight in gold.
The role of any good PR practitioner is to cultivate opinions, control narratives, and influence behavior, filtering through to every element of your business.
A strong brand reputation, cultivated through considered PR activity will act like a worm in the ear of your target customers, reminding them of all the reasons why your brand is the best option. This combination of data and emotive messaging can be a formidable force and allows brands to tag-team the two key influencers behind any purchasing decision: the logical need for the product and the emotive desire for it.
Solid PR helps to drive potential customers towards the purchase-ready mindset and therefore makes it far cheaper to secure the conversion. PR is often a slow burn, but the long-term value can make it one of the most cost-effective ways to take a new user from the awareness to conversion stage.
2. PR adds authority, trust and authenticity
When considering behavioural psychology, one of the most influential factors behind our decision-making is social proof. Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon whereby people will copy the behaviour of those they trust, outsourcing the effort of having to make their own decisions.
PR is the ultimate provider of social proof and is designed to first persuade those that hold influence over a select audience. Whether that be through media relations, stakeholder engagement, or directly through owned channels, social proof is the backbone of public relations. This makes it an ideal way for any eCom brand to add authority, credibility, and trust to their message, especially where traditional trust-building elements (like a friendly face) are not possible.
So, to build this trust, PR’s utilise compelling storytelling. Through their stories, they turn brand missions into a powerful narrative, built around the values of their customer base. The work of PR, therefore, goes beyond simply persuading customers to part with their money and is designed to flesh out brand values, drive brand culture and boost brand advocacy. This helps eCom managers unify every element of their business and ensure one powerful narrative is present through every brand touch-point.
3. PR is one of the most effective ways to enhance your SEO rankings
Despite what some might think, PR professionals and SEO experts actually have a lot in common. While their battle grounds may look a little different, both recognise the importance of building key relationships with relevant industry authorities. For PR’s this may be leading journalists and influencers, for SEO pros, it's Google and algorithms. Same job, different tools.
As such, it makes sense to integrate these channels to create a powerful joint force rather than considering them in silo. PR’s will work hard to secure strong, authentic backlinks, leaning on years of hard-earned stakeholder relationships, while SEO teams ensure visibility of key messages and drive traffic where you want it to go.
3. PR will kick in if things go wrong
It’s all well and good when business is booming and brand advocacy is high, but what happens when something goes wrong, and you start getting difficult questions you aren’t in a position to answer? This is where PR can make or break a brand.
A good PR is constantly playing devil’s advocate, asking the tough questions and preparing for the worst. That often allows them to provide an impartial take and keep a cool head when others are losing theirs. Their job is to consider the scale of the crisis and put together a detailed action plan which protects the brand’s most important asset; its reputation.
No other marketing discipline has the power to stop a crisis in it’s track quite as well as PR, and sadly, many brand leaders will only figure this out when faced with the sharp end of a communications crisis. When it comes to reputational protection, it’s worth thinking of PRs in the same way you would life insurance. You hope you’ll never need it, but not having it all? Not a good idea.
Final thoughts and takeaways
When it comes to marketing, a holistic approach will always be the best option, allowing you to engage customers through multiple touchpoints. While they can be powerful on their own, they’re better together and will feed off each other’s joint successes.
Now you understand the power of PR for an eCommerce brand, what steps can you take today to up your digital PR game? We suggest;
1. Learn how to build a viable brand and draw awareness. Check out Chapter 1 of our eBook for expert insights, brand examples, and actionable frameworks.
2. Learn how to create that irresistible hook by harnessing social proof. Check out pages 22-27 in the eBook.
3. Understand how to turn customers into loyal brand ambassadors. Check out Chapter 3 of our eBook.
If you’d like to learn more about Digital PR and how it can contribute to your eCom brand’s growth strategy, get in touch with Reload Digital for a free consultation here.