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Express yourself

Eleanor Lester, a PR and marketing professional with over 20 years' experience in fashion and online retail, explains which tools are most effective for boosting your business' profile

Express yourself: Image 1 Last month I outlined the difference between PR, marketing and advertising. In this article I'm going to delve a little deeper and list some of the many tools that you can use to benefit your business. Public Relations helps to drive awareness of your brand and create brand loyalty. Put simply, the more people who are talking positively about your brand, the more people are helping to spread the word about your company. But how do you get your message out?

A well-written and targeted release is a great way of informing the media about your boutique. It is important to make sure it has been written with the audience of the magazine, newspaper, TV or radio station in mind. If you wish to create local interest for your brand, think about how you can make your story relevant to the local community. Topicality and charity angles can also help secure those all-important column inches.

Great photography – whether it's a cut-out shot or a lifestyle image – can be one of your biggest aids when it comes to securing media coverage. Include photos in your press release and keep them close by so that you can send them out when journalists ask for them. It's worth investing in some professional photos of your shop and team. Your suppliers will often have high res images of the dresses and accessories that you stock that you can use in the press, just make sure you have approval to use them and credit them and the photographer as required.

The medium of video is a brilliant way of telling your story, whether you go live on Facebook, use Instagram TV or choose to get a professional video made. Testimonials also work well, as do clips of catwalk shows and events. It all helps to get potential customers thinking and talking about you.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked-In and Pinterest all have their part to play in your PR strategy and can be great tools to help get your brand noticed. Make sure that your posts are engaging, relevant to your audience and that you don't bombard your followers. Choose the most appropriate platforms – if your customers are only active on Facebook or Instagram, it's not worthwhile spending your time and energy on Pinterest, for example. In addition, once you're getting a good level of interaction on one platform, consider adding another. Thisis particularly important if you're going to be handling the social media side of the business yourself. Remember that to be successful you need to engage not only with your followers but also other brands and businesses. Tagging people, brands and using the appropriate hashtags can really help increase the visibility of your business. Lastly don't forget that you will need to monitor your social media accounts regularly and have a strategy in place to deal with any negative posts that might crop up. Ifyou need help with keeping track of your social media then you might find scheduling platforms such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck useful.

A well-written blog serves two purposes, firstly it helps with your Google Analytics by providing fresh, author-owned content for your website. Secondly, it allows you to express your brand's personality. Share tips on bridal style, the latest hair and make-up trends, customer testimonials, hot industry topics and sneak peeks on the new ranges that are coming soon. You might also like to use it as a platform to talk about issues that are close to your heart, whether that's plus-size fashion or how to have a green wedding. Don't forget to share your blog on your social media pages to help spread the word.

If you've gone to the trouble of asking your customers for their permission to collect their data with a view to marketing to them in the future, it is important that you utilise this resource. Many businesses fail to do this for a number of reasons but often it's because they think it's going to be too time consuming. However, with a little bit of care and attention it is possible to create something that will really help you to grow your business and increase sales. If you're not sure where to start, Mailchimp is easy to use and you can create professional looking newsletters with minimal effort.

Eleanor Lester, a PR and marketing professional with over 20 years' experience in fashion and online retail, explains which tools are most effective for boosting your business's profile.