I had an interesting exchange with a potential new client, a Finnish high tech company with an exceptional product that is already becoming recognized in its field. The company has only about 300 potential clients around the world, all at very large companies. Their head of marketing wanted to know what PR could do for them. Moreover, like many start ups who have bootstrapped their success, customer-by-customer, this company was doubtful that something as mass market focused as public relations could have any impact on them and more importantly their customer.
I agreed. A traditional PR program which builds credibility and visibility by "influencing the influencers" and extending that base of influence to customers is becoming less and less effective. Both in terms of what it costs to build such an effort and its likely impact today. In a world turning increasingly to search engines for information and research meetings with analysts and editors, traditional press releases carry less and less weight.
So what does a small company in a small town in far away country with an exceptional technology and highly targeted, customer base do? I would suggest they start with their web site and see how well it is built to leverage what the Internet has to offer.
Today, most web sites are constructed as a kind of online brochure or business card which provides customers with enough information to demonstate that a company is real. The problem is that approach does nothing to enable your customers to find you in that immense ocean of information found on the Internet. This "findability" is key, says Google expert, Dave Taylor. "It means when your customers search the Internet they find your product or service" and not a competitor's or that they find you at all.
Findability offers a small company in a faraway country, selling to a handful of highly targeted, customers, the best most effective way to reach them. And this is where your PR program should start. Has your company's web site been designed to optimize its visibility on the Web? Has it been built to help customers and search engines find you? If not, start here. It will improve how you communicate, market and sell.