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5 Ways to Get Good PR

August 2010, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Scott Pinsker

Public relations is the art of activating news outlets, social media sites and influential members of your community to advance your brand. For any dealership, large or small, an effective PR strategy ensures that your most important register-ringing marketing messages reach your target audience.

For some dealers, that target audience is elusive and varied, perhaps limited only by geographic region or a baseline salary. For others, the target audience is much more specific; it can be defined by a combination of many factors, including geography, income level, education, family size, age, gender, marital status and other interests.

When implemented effectively, a public relations strategy puts your financial model on steroids by building a personalized “roadmap” that literally drives your target audience to your dealership. It’s the world’s most dynamic, cost-efficient means for activating new consumers and reminding your past consumers precisely why they should remain loyal. Let’s review the five initial steps to making a PR strategy work:

1. Determine Your Target Audience

Which members of your target audience are of greatest value to your dealership’s financial model? Answering that question is a matter of deciding who your target audience is, as well as who you want it to be in the future. Public relations is not just about where you are at the moment; it’s also about where you want to be in the days, months and years to come. And if the two destinations are different, we use long-term PR planning to bridge the distance.

Think of it like this: PR is a tool for moving your brand from point A to point B. But if your PR team doesn’t understand where you are right now — and where you hope to be in the future — then how can it possibly navigate you to where you want to go? It can’t. 

My advice would be to avoid any self-declared PR guru who starts telling you how to market your business before understanding what your business is, and who you need to activate to remain profitable.

2. Create a Profile of Your Target Audience

How does your target audience think? Whom do they rely on for information, and where do they go to get it? Learn which local TV and radio shows, newspapers, magazines, Websites, social media platforms and newscasts they frequent, as well as which local “thought leaders” and trendsetters they admire. You also want to know which local events and community activities they support.

Dealers who purchase billboard ads on busy streets and highways can catch the eyes of thousands upon thousands of drivers buzzing up and down the highway. But they’re also spending lots of money — probably most of their advertising money — to reach thousands of people who simply aren’t qualified for their message. That’s wasteful.

With PR, your message is more impactful and your marketing dollars go further because it’s infinitely more targeted.

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