The Art and Science of Brand Messaging

By |

The Art and Science of Brand Messaging

Whether you are the owner or manager of a garden center, nursery or other business, using cost-effective and results-oriented marketing programs are at the top of your annual objectives list. If not, you might want to consider that businesses with sound marketing programs survive at telltale rates far exceeding those without them.

Promotion has four subcategories – personal selling, sales, advertising and public relations. Of the four, public relations is the most cost-effective and equates to the highest level of brand development. It is also the most misunderstood.

What Is Public Relations, Anyway?

By definition, it is the science and art of managing communication between a company and its key publics (customers or otherwise) with the goal of building, maintaining, managing and sustaining a positive image. Companies often use PR as a marketing tool to convey information about their products or services to potential and existing customers. An element of public relations – publicity – refers to the management of brand-related communication between businesses and their target audiences.

Is It An Ad Or PR?

A brief look at the primary area of confusion can clear up the misconception that advertising and public relations are the same. Though similar in activity they are distinct in many ways.

Together, advertising and PR have the power to provide synergy that drives sales; conversely, they achieve separate marketing objectives and have fundamental differences. Advertising is paid, while public relations is essentially free.

Through advertising, companies purchase expensive ad space to communicate marketing messages and product information to current and anticipated customers. The ability to advertise in many places is always attainable for the buyer until budgets run out. Advertisers often have to eliminate desired ads from campaigns because they cannot afford but a few select ad buys.

On the other hand, public and media relations employ many techniques to influence opinions and buying behaviors through unpaid media. Options for placement are unlimited since there is no fee imposed by the publication. The editor shares the submitted news with readers because it is of interest. So, the latter is a win-win-win situation. Companies earn the chance to market their messages without paying the media, editors gain much-needed help in collecting trend material and news, and readers are educated and enlightened by what they read. 

Public Relations – Self-Help

The press release is a vital instrument in getting coverage. Follow these rules so your news stays out of the trash:
• Buy an Associated Press style book and study it.
• Detail who, what, where, when, why and how every time.
• Include company name, a contact, phone number, e-mail, a “release date” when the information can be published and 400 words presenting the topic.
• E-mail, fax or mail your release to targeted magazines and papers, and follow-up with a polite call. Never assume an editor will publish your submission. Your job is to influence editorial decisions, not control them.

Public Relations – Get Help

Anyone can send a press release, but few companies have the staff and time to execute public relations. While it is possible for you to manage your own publicity programs, you might decide to consider retaining the services of a professional public relations firm based on the following:
• Find a PR firm with verifiable expertise in your field.
• Use a firm because your staff members are sales experts (not marketing experts) and you need a specialist.
• Use a firm when your marketing employee or staff is too small to perform public relations.
• Use a PR firm that shows you applicable samples of published articles and news within the industry, in both trade and consumer publications.

Don Eberly is president and CEO of Eberly Collard Public Relations, an agribusiness and home/garden-based firm that specializes in public/media relations, marketing, advertising and branding for garden centers, professional nursery and greenhouse growers, grower consortiums, plant breeders, horticulture product companies and landscape designers. He can be reached at 404-574-2900 or doneberly@eberlypr.com.

Leave a Reply