Buying with a PR Objective

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When anyone in the retail sector is doing their purchasing they already have many objectives in mind such as:

  • The Margin that is available on the stock
  • Credit terms
  • Reliability of supply
  • Resulting Price points
  • Range of stock
  • Storage
  • Returns policy
  • Ability to compete versus competition
  • Will it sell!!

Buying with a PR Agenda

I know you probably have enough on your plate but (the famous but!), I would strongly encourage every purchasing manager to also include a definite “PR Agenda” as part of the criteria when deciding on which suppliers to buy from and which stock to choose.
If your purchasing is approached in this way then there will be opportunities for valuable Press Coverage, which will be terrific for awareness and for attracting shoppers into your store.

So.. what exactly do I mean when I say purchase with a PR Agenda? – I have a few tips that may help you as follows..

Look for suppliers that have a pro-active PR resource – what will they do to promote the stock you buy from them?
When choosing a supplier look for one that is actively engaged in PR, which when operated properly will result in your store being mentioned as a stockist in Press coverage that is achieved in your locality. Don’t be afraid to ask for evidence of this including copies of press clippings for other stockists etc (make sure your supplier also includes your details on their website as a stockist)

Choose suppliers that have timely press images available of the stock that you are purchasing
If the supplier does not have a PR resource the next best thing is that you are able to do your own PR in your locality and beyond. This will be made a lot easier if the supplier can provide you with timely, good quality, attractive (high resolution) images. With these you or your own PR firm can issue your own press releases. (another tip – include these images on your Facebook page)

Choose products that are exclusive and unique
When deciding on which stock to purchase, try to secure brands or ranges of stock that will be exclusive to your store. A second point here is to purchase “unusual” items that will by their very nature turn heads and achieve coverage. You may be tempted to play it very safe with stock and avoid unusual items that may not sell – take a risk here, even with a small quantity of “PR Stock”. Get this one right and the PR value will well exceed the cost of the stock purchased.

Frequency of PR
Try to plan your buying so that you have new stock and the ability to issue an interesting Press Release as often as possible during the year. The Press will write about your store quite often as long as you have a new story to tell.

National versus loca
Achieving PR is really valuable for your store as we have discussed – will your plan achieve local PR or is it possible to achieve national PR? Try hard to have something that will bring you attention with the press nationally. As discussed already this will be down to you being the “exclusive stockist of unusual items”

For example at Fuzion we have achieved national coverage for small stores as a result of them having quite unusual stock items in their range – this will generate curiosity with customers and press as well as a national reputation for your store.

Overall Review of your purchase plan
Once you have made the bulk of your purchasing decisions in terms of suppliers and stock sit back and review this to ensure that the plan has sufficient “PR Ability” applying the PR criteria as discussed above: PR Resource, PR Images, Exclusive Stock, Wow Stock, Frequency and National versus Local.

Maybe you need to make a few changes or add something into the mix to achieve your PR Objective?

Customer “Wow” & Word of Mouth
Not only will the unusual items of stock help you to achieve Press Coverage but they will also achieve valuable “Word of Mouth” with customers. Help this along by displaying unusual items prominently in your store and by distributing the images on your Facebook pages. Customers could well make the assumption that if you can purchase usual items in the store, then surely there will be a great selection of “other” stock?

At a time when budgets are very tight (or anytime to be honest!) bringing a PR “agenda” into your purchasing criteria could play a very valuable role in attracting new customers to your store as well as  building your reputation as being quite special.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

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