In today’s world, it’s no longer a secret that consumers connect to brands and businesses through their story. Whether it’s a sustainable hotel or a four-generation boutique, consumers crave personal anecdotes — so what’s the best way to foster and promote the uniqueness of your business’ story?
I spoke with Zoey Gulmi, CEO of Gulmi Group, a media-relations firm, about her favorite tips and strategies to help your brand stand out — for free.
The Power of Emotional Marketing
“Neuroscience proves that we buy on emotion and justify it with logic,” says Gulmi. She advocates that loyalty grows once an emotional link to a brand is formed, and in order to make this happen, a brand needs to create a genuine story. “In today’s fast-paced, overly-automated, and digitally-driven society, authenticity is the new premium. Have you ever thought of your favorite hotel and what makes you love it? Or your favorite clothing brand? I’d bet that the storytelling the brand told along the way played a key role in your brand loyalty.”
88% of PR specialists say that digital storytelling is the future.
Though you can’t falsify a brand story, a public relations specialist can help you dig into the details of what truly makes your business one of a kind. When you think about how many hundreds of companies are launched every day, many of similar genres, it’s the businesses with a story that stand out and ultimately find success in the long run. “It’s important to wrap your brand’s message into a story that transports people and provokes an emotional response,” reiterates Gulmi.
For new businesses, it’s essential to craft this narrative and identify a strong brand story before launch. And for existing businesses, the story is ongoing — it doesn’t stop because you received coverage in a top-tier publication or because your business is coasting. You are, and always will be, your brand and sometimes it takes a gentle reminder from an unbiased source.
Create Lasting Buzz
“The media landscape has changed. It’s no longer only about just securing ongoing print, digital and broadcast features, it has to go beyond that, you have to create the story, and it has to have the ability to create lasting buzz across all platforms. That means telling a cohesive story through events, social campaigns, partnerships and press,” says Gulmi.
As with any component of your business, if you are continually behind the scenes building or managing your business, you aren’t going to be able to focus your attention on other important aspects of the company. You need to delegate and hire out. This is increasingly important owing to the shift in media landscape — demand for content has significantly increased and so have expectations for return on investment.
Content Is King
“In simple terms, it’s no longer about just content creation but rather about content marketing — and today, it means an entire world of difference,” explains Gulmi. “There is an incredible amount of strategy that goes into what we do. You have to be a great writer, you have to be a researcher and an analyst. You have to find the heart of the story and more often than not, you’re the one creating it.”
“It’s one thing to write a press release, its another thing to launch a PR campaign that’s relevant and attention-worthy,” she adds.
Though public relations and marketing are not equal, one discipline certainly helps the other, and vice versa. Public relations specialists will often tell you that public relations is storytelling, while marketing is putting money behind that story. But they’ll also tell you, marketing dollars alone will be wasted if you don’t have a story. For example, when you see an advertisement online that catches your eye (marketing), and then click the link through to the website only to find a blank page or that there’s no draw to the brand (poor storytelling), the money spent on that ad quickly falls flat. On the contrary, if you click that ad and there’s an engaging story that draws you in, that’s marketing and public relations executed in tandem.
“This type of marketing is meant to humanize or personalize a brand, allowing your customers to form an emotional connection with your product or service,” adds Gulmi.
The Future of Public Relations
Ultimately, public relations has evolved to fit the landscape of our ever-evolving world. Contemporary public relations is more than a press release, it’s campaigns, partnerships, and constant storytelling. Gulmi describes it as a “one-stop shop” where brand’s can trust in a public relations expert and marketing professional, combining the two realms for pinnacle results.
“It takes more than traditional PR to drive consumers’ engagement and awareness for brands,” says Gulmi, adding that strategic partnerships are also part of her firm’s approach. “A partnership with the right company on the right project goes a long way in helping you tap into a new audience and strengthening the brand identity through association.”
Speaking succinctly, it seems the future of public relations is the future of your business, and as long as the media landscape keeps changing, public relations will also have to adapt to ensure brand relevance and longevity.