Three Industries That Could Benefit from a PR Revamp
If you’ve ever watched HGTV, you know that revamping something old into something fresh can yield incredible results. A renewed look or unique vision can completely transform a space. The same is true with public relations strategies. Brands may need to shake things up or make a shift to see results.
You can’t just slap some paint on it and say it’s new. Just like a good renovation, revising a PR strategy may mean tearing out the old to make room for a more contemporary, updated look. Not every industry or brand needs to do this, but there are a few verticals that seem to be stuck in a PR rut:
- Financial services – This includes banks, accountants, credit card companies, stock brokerages, investment services and asset management.
- Lawyers/attorneys – All areas of law such as family, commercial, criminal, employment and corporate.
- Cell phone carriers – In recent years, mergers and consolidations have been a notable industry trend within the telecom industry. This has created increased competition among big brands and put more pressure on smaller carriers to showcase their benefits over larger carriers.
These three could benefit from taking a critical eye to any outdated or unsuccessful practices of their current marketing plans and draft a blueprint to rebuild and make the most of their customer relationships. PR can provide many benefits and is focused on the connection and communication between the brand and the customer.
Here are seven key benefits of leveraging a fresh PR strategy:
- Build trust
- Strengthen connection
- Clear messaging
- Valuable content
- Gain earned media attention
- Social listening
Keep reading to learn more.
What is PR?
Before we get into why each industry could benefit from a PR refresh, it’s important to understand the role that PR plays when it comes to engaging with a company’s target audience. Simply put, PR is the communication strategy that a brand uses to foster a relationship with its customers and other companies. It sounds broad, and it is. There are many different aspects of PR including:
Digital PR – Focuses on growing a brand’s online presence through search engine optimization (SEO), online press releases, blogging, digital ad placements and other online tactics. Most marketing today takes place digitally since its opportunities for online placements are plentiful and affordable.
Social media – This is often grouped with digital PR, and technically it is a digital strategy. However, social media marketing is its own beast. This uses a brand’s owned channels to directly communicate with its target audience. This can also include paid placements and user-generated content (UGC).
Influencer – Influencer marketing taps a third party to promote the brand. An influencer can be a celebrity, or a smaller, nano- or micro-influencer with a modest, but dedicated following. Influencers can promote their partner brands through social media, video, email, appearances and more.
Media relations – This involves connecting with reporters and other media to promote the brand’s story. Media relations could be for both traditional media like print, television and radio, or digital media such as websites, blogs and podcasts. This includes strategies such as pitches, follow up after press releases, arranging interviews and securing guest article opportunities.
Thought leadership – Let your customers know that your brand is at the top of its game. A thought leader is like a spokesperson for your company, except that it’s not only about promotion, but also about authentically connecting with your audience on the future of the industry and the brand.
The lines of PR are fuzzy, and many strategies can overlap or work together. These are just a few of the main areas, but PR can encompass other avenues including events, partnerships, pop-up stores and more.
Why do these specific verticals need a PR revamp?
Money and money management are delicate topics. For customers, money is tied up in hopes and dreams for the future, including meeting goals such as home purchase or retirement. It’s also part of daily activities like paying rent, bills, grocery shopping and the general feeling of being secure. The financial sector touches almost every aspect of life, and yet it sometimes struggles to gain the trust and confidence of customers.
In a 2021 poll, only 39% of U.S. adults said they trusted financial services companies in general, 36% said they trusted investment and wealth management companies and 48% trusted payment companies such as credit card providers. In fact, Moody’s cited a “rapidly deteriorating operating environment” when it recently downgraded the industry outlook to negative.
The financial sector has a lot to overcome, but that just means that the reward for an excellent PR plan will be that much sweeter. Sticking with the same old strategy won’t make the impression needed to gain customer trust. It’s time to try something new and truly connect with customers.
Lawyers have a wealth of knowledge and skill to share with clients. It’s likely at some point most people will require the services of an attorney whether for common items such as establishing a final will and testament or to help review a contract. Finding a good lawyer when you need one is vital, so it’s surprising that so many industry players struggle with marketing.
There is often a negative association with needing an attorney. For example, when you think of family law, your head might go directly to divorce. However, these professionals can also help with wonderful events such as adoption and marriage.
Sadly, the legal system in general has a public opinion problem, with confidence in federal courts dropping to 57% and state court to 60% in 2022. This unfortunate view will tarnish the image of attorneys as well, as most people associate legal professionals with the court system.
The legal industry could use a some reputational reimagining, and PR is a good place to start!
Cell phone carriers
Poor customer perception in this industry is rampant. Mobile service carriers are blamed for a litany of terrible experiences including hidden fees and billing issues, new customer deals that are much better than what they offer loyal long-term users, bad overall policies, understaffed stores with long wait times, lack of value, poor cell service and the list goes on.
When a small provider like Mint Mobile makes positive waves, it’s often bought out by one of the larger providers (in Mint’s case, T-Mobile), continually reducing the number of supplier choices and competition.
Consumers don’t often hear about the positive experiences with cell phone carriers. In fact, when searching for positive stories, we were only able to find those shared by the actual service providers themselves.
A strong media relations strategy could turn this situation around. Cell service providers should consider placing a call for help.
What can PR do to revamp these industry images?
So, what are brands in the financial, legal and cell phone industries to do? The answer is a strong PR plan. Here’s why:
- Build trust – One of the biggest issues that these verticals have is that there is a lack of trust, which happens to be an essential factor in gaining and retaining customers. Particularly over the last few years, trust has become a key factor for consumers, with 88% saying that trust is more important in times of change. Plus, 71% said they switched brands over the previous year, so keeping customer trust is imperative for retention and return business.
- Strengthen connection – It’s been shown that consumers want to have a relationship with the brands they buy. In fact, 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, and 70% feel more connected to brands with CEOs that are active on social media. This is a huge opportunity for brands to communicate through thought leadership.
- Clear messaging – People don’t like to feel like they are being deceived, so a brand that clearly and effectively communicates its marketing message will stand out from the crowd. This is especially true when a brand needs crisis communication if something may have gone wrong.
- Valuable content – Consumers are online and looking for information about new products or about brands they use. To cultivate a loyal following, brands must continue to deliver interesting content that provides value.
- Gain earned media attention – This is a big one. An unbiased third-party promoting the brand in a positive light can add to its credibility. Drafting press releases and then reaching out to reporters and other media to get stories and interviews is a good strategy to secure this type of coverage.
- Social listening – It’s vital that brands monitor and respond appropriately to customer feedback. Customers will often read reviews before making a purchase or moving forward with a service. Brands need to have a team that reads and answers reviews with helpful information that resolves issues. This will show that the brand supports customers even after completion of the purchase.
- Education – Try skipping the hard sales push and simply educate your audience for their own benefit. This is particularly prudent for the financial and legal sectors and can lead to customer buy-in without being overtly sales-oriented. When the customer needs something, they will remember your useful content and may return to pay for services.
Revamp for results
Public relations encompasses a wide range of services that can tackle a variety of marketing goals. For these three industries, building positive reputations and relationships with the customer base will be fundamental. Through tactics including digital PR, social media, influencer marketing, media relations and thought leadership, a brand can restore its image and begin to make positive strides in connecting with its target audience. This will lead to more business, loyal customers and even referrals. Now, those are results that are worth the effort!