How to get your clients to do your selling for you. Let’s talk SPEAK|pr 

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

SPEAK|pr is a proven methodology for anybody, regardless of the size of the business you’re running, to communicate effectively and consistently with all of the audience groups that matter to them so that they become evangelists and part of the marketing effort for the brand. There are five stages to this, and they are Storify, Personalise, Engage, Amplify, and Know.

There are five stages in the customer journey: ignorance, awareness, interest, engagement, and evangelism. Ignorance is where people have not even heard of your brand or may not even identify with the issue. Awareness is where that person starts to hear, see, read, or be told about your brand. Interest is where they start to make inquiries. Maybe they visit the website and they go through the beginning stages of due diligence prior to a purchase or to become an employee. Engagement is where they become a customer, where they actually make a transaction, they spend money, or they become an employee or a supplier. The fifth stage of the process is when they become an evangelist, when they start to tell others about your company, because they’re so delighted by the service or product and the customer, employee, or partner experience.

First of all, the S stands for STORIFY. To Storify means that we want to look at the narrative behind the business, why you started the business, what your motivation is, and what your vision is for why you’re creating this company, who you’re going to help, and prove what problem you’re trying to help them to solve. The creation of a narrative about you and your business, why it exists, is personal, authentic, sustainable, and it’s the heart of the storification stage of the SPEAK|pr methodology.

Storification is also about putting the customer or the client at the heart of the business. Customers are said to be the central focus of a business, but storification talks about having your customers as heroes on a journey, while your role as a business owner or an organisation leader is really to facilitate their journey to help them overcome the challenges that they’re going to face along the way, and you’re going to do that with yourself, with your organisation, and with the goods and services that you supply to them. Storification looks at creating a narrative, which includes personalities, challenges, opportunities, and ways that you and your company have helped to deliver those stories and those outcomes to your heroes. 

The second dimension is to PERSONALISE. This focuses on the three different audience groups: the internal or the people being employed, the external or the people who pay the company, and the third element, the allies. With communications, it’s important to think about the avatar. The avatar is the visualisation of the individual characters within those different subsets. This helps business owners identify what kind of messages are going to be important to them. The other dimension to the personalisation is the engagement process, because when looking at the individuals to be addressed, one must recognise that they’re not all in the same level of engagement with our company. 

The next element is to ENGAGE, and the only way to engage with these avatars and to move them along this process of engagement is through compelling content, which is accurate, concise, but most of all appealing to those different audience groups. Of course, different avatars will find different kinds of information interesting. But because they are processing that information at different times of the day, month, or year, they’re going to need different kinds of information in different formats delivered across different channels. Content is now at the very heart of all public relations, and in the SPEAK|pr program, we look at the different formats of text, of video, of infographics, of events, of signage, and of meetings. 

The next stage in the SPEAK|pr program is to AMPLIFY content. Amplification is the sharing of stories using technology, and it’s through what is called personalisation at scale. Every company needs more than one employee, one partner, one customer, so amplification at scale is a key part of the SPEAK|pr methodology. Because of social media and digital technologies, all companies have an equal opportunity to amplify their message. It’s no longer a function of size. It’s a function of using the best tools. And within the amplification module of SPEAK|pr, this looks at the tools individuals can sign up for and organisations can take advantage of, many of which are free, but all of which will enable the content you create to be repurposed and shared frequently, consistently, even globally, and most importantly, in an automated way. It’s going to be the ability to take content and share it without spending any additional time, and it’s going to be a game changer for everybody that takes the SPEAK|pr course.

The fifth element is to KNOW. Knowing your public relations activity is important, and so is productivity; in other words, how much effort you actually put in to the public relations campaign. EASTWEST PR has defined a term called the Active Communications Index which is a measure of [content x frequency x channels]. This is a practical way of measuring the work being done on public relations, because the alternative is to measure some of the vanity metrics like impressions and reach. Those are entirely dependent on the algorithms of the software platforms that you’re using and the vagaries of a trending story. In the SPEAK|pr course, people will be trained to use the Active Communications Index and to track it every week. By tracking productivity and inputting into the public relations campaign, you can ensure that you have a consistent approach and that will, as a function, create consistent communication over time. Public relations is essentially the necessary, consistent, and compelling communication with personalisation at scale. So, under Knowing, people can track what they send, where they send it, and when they send it. It’s very simple measurement, but a very effective one.

The overarching theme of the SPEAK|pr program is to enable business owners and entrepreneurs to run their own public relations program without the need of an agency. If they so choose to engage an agency, they will have a strategy or they will have a known audience and a known metric in the ACI to give the agency a guide as to the amount of work they want them to carry out. The SPEAK|pr course is taught along the STEPE methodology of training, which involves Skill, Theory, Example, Practice, and Evaluation. Each module will follow these five elements. By doing so, this ensures that people that take the course will understand the theory and the skills that they need, they will have learned about case studies of best practice, and they will then start to evaluate their own company’s activities in the light of this new  SPEAK|pr methodology. 

Overall, the plan is to enable people to develop public relations programs that will be profitable for their business, because it will generate more sales leads, encourage employees to take ownership, and ultimately transition anybody that’s involved in this business from a position of ignorance, through to awareness, to interest, to engagement, and finally to evangelism. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

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