There is an old saying: “Advertising is what you pay for; publicity is what you pray for.”
In 2012, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defined public relations as follows: “Public Relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually benefits relations between organisations and their publics.”
Why pray? Because “publicity” in traditional media or through digital or social media is free, and has the advantage of being a third party, independent opinion or view of the positive side of your business. It is also called “earned” media. Earned media, or earned content, is any material written about you or your business that you haven’t paid for or created yourself. Although this type of media is always published by a third party, there are ways marketers can position themselves for earned media opportunities – that is the strategic communication process designed to build relationships.
Many have called “publicity” earned media’s nickname. Your business did not pay for this media to be created – the way you would for, say, an advertisement – and, therefore, your actions alone “earned” you this attention.
The SEIFSA Awards for Excellence is an intrinsic part of the strategic communication process that earns companies publicity in various media and exposes them to additional opportunities and networks. SEIFSA is an “engine” for media exposure as the organisation is well-known in the South African media community and carefully nurtures its reputation as the authoritative voice for all-things metals, engineering and manufacturing. SEIFSA’s structure as a Federation apex organisation representing 23 Associations ensures that by its nature, SEIFSA must create platforms for the 23 Associations to showcase their work or their members companies and the 180,000-plus employees they represent. The SEIFSA Awards for Excellence and the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba are two of the biggest platforms, where individual companies get together to share experience, learn and communicate with stakeholders such as Government. These events are hubs for media attention and are news-worthy events which feature prominently in the general media.
These platforms can also level the playing field. Smaller companies with little access to PR professionals can put themselves on the same level as the larger companies because entering the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence comes at no cost. The only cost is excellence and the time of completing the application form, which is all online and is
designed to be as user friendly as possible. Therefore, smaller companies should ensure that they enter the awards on an annual basis – and this can mean that they constantly improve by using the award categories as a barometer to measure their success. Companies can choose to enter in more than one category per year or choose to enter a different category each year.
So, how do you or your company use the public relations practitioner’s toolbox to leverage the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence and generate earned media for your company? You can:
- Write and distribute press releases about the Awards;
- Include the Awards in all your speeches;
- Include the Awards in new business pitches;
- Write and blog for the web (internal or external sites); and
- Share the Awards in your social media promotions.
The power of public relations can be understood by doing a direct comparison between traditional advertising and trying to generate earned media, as can be seen below:
Think about it. A company purchased one full-page ad in a weekly magazine that cost R250 000. The company expected a wave of phone calls. They got zero. In contrast, getting mentioned or quoted in The Star, Business Day and Engineering News resulted in national speaking invitations, calls from new and existing clients, and solid credibility. Not everyone can afford R250 000, and advertising can be expensive when you figure the cost of the space or time plus the creative designs and production costs – and most advertisements need to be repeated several times before the consumer can be influenced.
Recognition is powerful! Industry-wide awards such as the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence provide spiraling benefits for the recipient. The Awards are optimum benchmarking, indicating that the recipient company’s work and its professionals are standard setting. The Awards build the credibility and strength of the company, validating the business’s position with prospective clients and other publics. The Awards demonstrate the value the company has brought to the market and, in this metric-conscious world, there is little better than that. Such Awards communicate to the individual and their peers that the winners are filled with conscientious people and professionals whose achievements stand out. Consistently winning awards like the SEIFSA Awards For Excellence is a reinforcement of all of these points.
It’s time for your company to tap into the potential of the SEIFSA Awards For Excellence.