If you are considering using branded items as part of your PR strategy or are rethinking your use of branded items you are not alone. These types of merchandises form part of PR and marketing strategies for brands around the world. They are not new on the PR scene but they remain very useful for brands that want to boost their presence on the market. But to be truly effective they have to be crafted and used strategically.
Choose the Right Merchant
The source from which you get your branded merchandise is important. Select a source that has a sturdy reputation for high quality and will be able to provide merchandise that fit your brand’s vision. If you are planning to secure a high volume ensure that the provider has the capacity to deliver. If customization is on your radar look into a merchant that has the capacity for this.
The very design of your branded merchandise should reflect your brand’s culture and identity. Of course this means features like the colour and the images used to adorn the merchandise must be consistent with those officially used by the brand.
Equally important is the target market’s tastes and needs. A brand that caters to other businesses (B2B) should focus on branded merchandise that will appeal to that demography. This may mean stationery and digital tools like flash drives and power banks. On the other hand, a brand that is targeting the general population may want to go for merchandise that is not so professional in nature. This means items like water bottles, can openers. A youthful target market may gravitate towards entertainment or fashion related gadgets so items like armbands or tech accessories like phone cases or flash drive strings.
If the target market is fitness and wellness oriented merchandise like stress balls, headbands and resistance bands will indicate that you understand and care about their needs and desires. But it is also important to remain current with your branded merchandise (hence the need to sue sources that are flexible). Take the current global situation characterized by a pandemic and mask wearing for example. Branded masks and face shields have become popular and the brands that were able to adjust in time were able to grab the proverbial early bird worm.
Your branded merchandise need to get into the right hands if they are to have the impact you designed them for. Branded items convert almost anyone into a brand ambassador as they carry your message wherever the person goes. Naturally therefore you want to distribute to those people who are likely to carry the message you’re sending far and into the demographics you have on your radar.
Distribute your branded merchandise at your events. You may be thinking ‘but many corporate events are virtual these days!’ While that is true it that many corporate events have moved into the digital space, it doesn’t mean promotional products have become obsolete. You can still deliver promotional goodies to your event attendees using delivery services such as those used for ecommerce.
Your partners and distributers are important so choose them strategically. Retail companies that carry your products for example are in a perfect position to distribute your branded merchandises. Branded merchandise can be issued with each purchase as a freebie and a great way of showing customers that you appreciate them while getting the word out there about your brand at the same time. In doing this you are establishing and building a positive relationship with existing customers while giving your brand well-needed exposure.
Undoubtedly, to reap the optimum rewards from branded merchandise, brands need to plan and act strategically, keeping brand image and the target market in focus.
Public Relations agencies promote a brand’s reputation through earned and owned media as well as paid communication. Their main aim is to endorse brand awareness and maintain promote good brand reputation.
Partnering with a PR firm helps you to tap into various channels that promote your brand. At times this all can be overwhelming especially to new business and as such you might contemplate outsourcing your PR efforts. You will always be the best spokesperson for your brand and doing your PR will give you more insight into the process and what you’re looking for which gives you a clearer expectation of what you’re to look for from a PR firm.
Before you decide on a PR firm you should do a reference check. Get information from within the business community for recommendations to find the best fit. Ask relevant questions and pay keen attention to their response. You also want to ensure that your PR goals and objectives are clear and easy to understand. A good PR agency will not only get your publicitybut publicity that will help to increase sales.
Before you decide on whether to outsource your PR efforts or to do it yourself you might want to consider the benefits and downsides.
Benefits of outsourcing PROutsourcing when correctly approached can have wide-ranging benefits to their business. There are many reasons to outsource such as
Ø Saving time
This is possibly the biggest benefit of outsourcing your PR needs. When you outsource to an agency, you can focus on the core focus of your business while allowing the firm to focus on the PR strategies.
Ø External Ideas
Outsourcing to a PR firm provides fresh ideas and an unbiased perspective on how to promote your brand. Outside perspective works because you get objective criticism that helps in the long run.
Ø Networks and Contacts
A large part of the PR industry involves networking and building contacts. PR agencies are constantly meeting new clients, which means new networks. They usually have connections with the press and media allowing you to get a connection with reporters who might cover your company. The connection a PR company has can allow you to reach your desired target audience which saves time rather than slowly building relationships with the audience you need.
The downside of outsourcing PRWhile there are clear benefits to outsourcing PR, there are some downsides to consider.
Ø Outsourcing can be costlyWhile you can assume PR is an investment and not another expense, outsourcing your PR strategies rather than doing it yourself is going to cost more than what it would cost doing it on your own. Although generally considered cheaper contractual agreements tend to be lengthy and include fine print which could contain unexpected costs.
Ø You Lose Some ControlWhileoutsourcing allows you to focus on your core business responsibilities, you lose a bit of control over how tasked are performed. If you want to maintain a large amount of control, outsourcing may not be for you.
Ø There are security risksWhen you involve a new business partner, you increase security risk. You need to do your due diligence to avoid this as much as possible if you intend to outsource. If you intend to outsource processes that include personal data, there’s the possibility that it may be passed on to other people.Ø You can do the work yourselfIf you decide to outsource ensure you have the right intention. Outsourcing just because can put you at a disadvantage. If you enjoy doing the work on your own, do it.Ø Being on the same pageYou know your company and the vision you have for it better than anyone else. It can be hard to find the right team who sees your vision the way you do. To ensure you get the most out of the merger it is important to understand who you’re working with. This could cause time and money to be wasted. It is important to find a PR agency to learn about your business and culture, so your company’s values and goals are achieved.Ø You can lose focusPR firms tend to have multiple clients at any one time. As such, your projects might not get the attention it needs. Lack of focus can harm your business.
Ø InstabilityThe outsourcing company can go out of business, or the firm decides not to supply your business anymore. Luckily, this can be fixed by finding a new supplier
Ø Service deliverySince the PR firm you hired tends to have multiple clients, you run the risk of your service falling below expectations. Some PR firms may be motivated byprofit and not necessarily the quality of the output.Ø Impacts company cultureIf you are outsourcing you need to consider the possible impact this might have on your company and take steps to ensure it doesn’t produce a negative impact. Employees may not understand why you are outsourcing and feel they are being replaced. Outsourcing can lead to friction and make the day to day workflow of the company challenging. When you outsource increase new opportunities for the external firm that grows more than your own.
Although PR agencies can help your business to be profitable and increase brand reputation, there are limitations you may face. Not every business needs to outsource its PR needs. Outsourcing your PR needs should be assessed thoroughly.
Using PR strategies can make or break your brand so it is vital you find the right PR company fit for your company’s vision. PR professionals help to create a positive brand reputation as well as manage crises should the need arise.
What does a PR company do? A good PR company helps a brand image through:
PR is a critical element in successful business communications. When done well, it can have a positive effect, just as a poorly handled issue can promptly become a crisis. Selecting the right agency is so important since selecting the wrong one will not only waste time but cost you money.