There are many important types of relationships in PR – relationships with reporters, relationships with clients. As a strategic public relations firm, understanding our client’s target audience and their marketplace is vitally important for helping them build the right kind of relationships that are going to strengthen their brand. In today’s world of social media, the opportunities for this are everywhere.
This past week, the “polar vortex” was all over the news and many of us experienced it firsthand. While some claimed this was an overreaction to cold weather, it ended up doing a number on my house in the form of a burst kitchen pipe. But it also demonstrated relationship building via social media.
Here’s what happened.
After a day of single digit temperatures, a pipe burst in my kitchen, sending water everywhere. We got the water shut off before too much damage occurred. However, we were left scrambling for a plumber during a time in which it seemed everyone needed a plumber.
While I was on the phone scheduling a plumber to come the next morning, my wife vented on Facebook about our dilemma. A general contractor who my wife is working with on a potential project with her business saw the post, called and offered to send one of his people. We graciously declined, saying we already had something lined up.
The plumber we scheduled did not show the next day, so we called the contractor back to see if he was still willing to help. He immediately sent one of his guys to come over and within an hour our pipe was fixed, the water was back on, and we were happy.
Recognizing the good service we just received, we turned to Facebook to announce our improved situation and to publically thank the contractor. Within the comments on that thread, a friend announced that her pipes also burst, flooding her basement. Guess who immediately jumped on this opportunity? The savvy contractor responded to the comment, offering help and including his phone number.
These types of opportunities for relationship building are not just for individuals. Companies can also benefit, resulting in brand building and even generating potential new business leads. Here are three steps you can take:
- Commit to Listen: Find out where your customers or prospects are on social media, and pay attention. Depending on the size and scope of your audience, this may be a major task, so prepare to invest the appropriate amount of resources. The online conversations that occur represent opportunity for you.
- Engage with Help: When an opportunity arises, make sure your outreach delivers value, preferably when there is a problem or need. Pushing your product or service when there is no expressed need will, at best, be ignored and, at worst, be perceived as off-putting and negatively affect your brand perception.
- Nurture the Relationship: Once the prospect has turned into a customer, the job is not done. Like any strong relationships, you need to put in the time to nurture it. Make sure to continue to offer value and be attuned to any future needs. You’ve earned their trust, now make sure you keep it.
Opportunities to strengthen your brand and build new relationships on social media will only continue to increase as adoption speeds forward. Make sure your organization is positioned to take advantage.
And if you need a recommendation on a good general contractor, just let me know!