If you’re in business, no matter the industry, chances are, you’ve thought about your competition from time to time. After all, if you are to succeed then you must know what the competition is doing so you can outperform them right? For many in the corporate world the answer to this question is a resounding yes- an answer that is, of course, backed by research and data supporting. In board and strategy meetings around the world, it is commonplace to find business executives and corporate strategists pondering this question. This is why many resort to underhanded tactics such as corporate espionage. But do you really need to pay attention to your rival’s PR strategies. Here are a few thoughts on this.
When Your Rival’s PR Strategy is Relevant
It is not always necessary or even worthwhile to look at the PR strategies being used by the competition, but some situations do call for it.
If you are losing customers to the competition, you might want to evaluate your business to see what may be going wrong. It could be the quality of the product or service you offer, customer service, price and yes, the failure of your PR strategy to stand up in the face of your competitions’ strategy. In a situation like this it makes perfect sense to do a comparative analysis of your PR strategy and that of the competition with a view to making improvements to yours.
It may be, for instance, that your strategy is stuck in the traditional world of paper and real- time physical engagements, while the competition has marched on ahead with the times, you have some catching up to do and should definitely pay some attention to what the competition is doing.
If you choose to explore your competition’s PR strategy, remember to use ethical and legal methods like reaching out to the target market itself and asking for comparisons (questions that require that respondents say what they like about each brand, for instance). And of course, you can always use web searches and spend some time looking at their social media pages.
When You Can Ignore The Competitions’ PR
Regardless of how successful or unsuccessful your rivals’ PR strategies are, once the strategy you use is the right fit for your brand, then you have won half your PR battle. When you are confident that your PR strategy is informed by the best data and is designed to deliver the end results your brand aims for, you don’t need to pay attention to the competition’s PR. In general, stay away from acts that may seem underhanded or count as corporate espionage.
Sometimes it is really unproductive to spend time exploring the competition’s PR strategies. This is because each business has its unique features and the PR approach that works company for one may not work for another, even when they operate in the same industry. If you operate on a small scale, for example, and only target people in the local community, your PR strategy will look very different from a multinational company with international target markets. Additionally, if the demography you target also differs significantly from your competition, then it would be fruitless to spend time trying to understand their PR approach.
In a nutshell therefore, you shouldn’t ignore the competition. Knowing why the competition is outperforming you may offer insights into what you need to do to keep your footing in the market. Or conversely knowing why they seem to be failing may offer lessons in moves to avoid. But ultimately, the success or failure of your PR campaigns really depend on the work you and your team put in through all the stages from conceptualization to implementation.
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