Communications Consultant Paul Allen, Managing Director of Public Relations firm Paul Allen & Associates, gives advice on how communications can help in the COVID-19 Recovery.
As our focus turns to getting back to business amid the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, we must be ever mindful of the role communications and the media can play in our rebound to recovery. Each and every business has a story to tell.
Times of great challenge and crisis are times when we must all look at new ways of doing things and keep looking out for new opportunities. Surrounding our world is media, online or TV. There are endless topics that can be exploited and backed into every business that should be seen.
This is especially true when it comes to communications and the media. All businesses, including those in the hardware sector, are being forced to improve their communications with customers, suppliers and media. Many have captured smart thinking loyalty programmes to win favour with the customer. However, in a similar manner, consideration should be given to engaging with the media which is all around you. Furthermore, by setting up your own podcasts or presentations on Instagram, you can quickly capture the attention of traditional media, who are always looking out for smart thinking professionals in this sector.
This means taking a look at how your business currently communicates, from social media platforms to interactions with customers and presence in the media. There are plenty of canny YouTube tutorials available to you to improve skills similar to the ones you share with customers when learning about DIY techniques.
However, while we are staring into a new era of modern methods, the old principles of good communications haven’t changed and still apply. Fancy new power tools are released each year, but the old reliable measuring tape is still king of the toolbox.
The Message is Key:
Messaging is a critical element of professional and effective communications. A good message is something that highlights a unique strength of your business, be it customer service, price or quality.
Messaging is only successful if the messages are repeated often, and the message only beings to sink in once you are sick and tired of saying it over and over again.
Hardware businesses will need to take a look at what differentiates them from their competitors, and spend some time deciding how to get it across. This is where communications gets interesting.
Using Your Message:
Once you have a strong message, the next thing to do is think about how to use it, and where to use it. The most important interaction your business will have with a client or customer will always be the face-to-face one.
A customer may not remember what made them walk into your shop over any other, but they will remember their experience of being there. They will remember the person they talked to and how they were treated.
Big is nice, but small is beautiful. Communications isn’t just about big pieces in the national newspapers or online; it’s also about what your staff say to customers and the expertise, knowledge and helpfulness on display.
In terms of media, think local fi rst. Local newspapers and radio have a much greater connection with their readers than national ones. If you have a news story such as a business anniversary or opening a new store, pick up the phone and talk to the local radio station or newspaper and let them know. Don’t be afraid that they won’t run the piece, as those who don’t ask, don’t get.
In a world with dwindling newspaper sales and declining respect for traditional media, added to new and emerging forms of entertainment such as YouTube, podcasts and Netflix, social media is the ever-widening field of battle for communicators. With social media, no matter what platform you are using, you must make your content entertaining while conveying your message. For example, a great way of demonstrating your expertise is recording ‘How To’ videos, product comparisons or funny content about life in a hardware store.
People will follow certain brands on social media for various reasons, be it handy information, entertainment, humour or because they like the characters. It is crucial to engage with your followers and analyse what they like and what gets greater views and reach.
While many PR professionals may indeed be a dab hand with a circular saw, if we need advice we will probably ask the expert at the local hardware store. Likewise, if you feel like you need assistance with communications its always good to get advice from a communications professional who knows what they’re talking about. Many of us have made a mess of a DIY bathroom job because they didn’t get advice or listen to an expert, so listen to the experts as it will be well worth your while.
If any HAI members require assistance with PR, communications or social media, please contact us on 01-676-9575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Business Support article featured in the May/June 2020 edition of The Hardware Journal.