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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Ambassadors in Business Boost Brand and Referrals

This is the start of a series of posts, re-visiting the 30 low cost or free publicity techniques featured in PHPR's MD's best-selling book: DIYPR, the small business owner's guide to 'free' publicity by Penny Haywood (pub: Batsford 1998). They are a mix of sales, marketing and PR tools because you need to work all three disciplines to effectively boost a business.

As the series develops, choose a few to trial for a few months. The aim is to work up to 10 varied publicity techniques that work for you and your business to create a rolling PR Plan for success.

The techniques can be used for most sizes of business and organisations.

At PHPR, we mainly work with business-to-business clients. We need to ensure that clients get the best possible PR, sales and marketing advice, so we have evolved a list of several hundred techniques to ensure we can cover most bases in most industry sectors.

These 30 techniques are more than enough to get started on. We are kicking off with one of the least used: Ambassadors.

Ambassadors - some people call them brand ambassadors - have the potential to bring great benefits to any business that thrives on recommendations: and that is most of them!

1) Ambassadors

Ambassadors are common for countries and NGOs, but companies rarely use them.

I believe ambassadors can particularly benefit small businesses and they should be a more widespread phenomenon. Why?
Being asked to be an ambassador is flattering to the most influential people in your field, which is rarely a bad thing.

Having a good ambassador aligns your business with the best people.

Ambassadors are eminently quotable and add kudos to your business

An ambassador programme leverages word of mouth recommendations from people whose opinion is respected.

Having ambassadors gets you closer to people who matter.

What's not to like about ambassadors?

If you have good contacts with prominent individuals associated with your field, could they become your ambassadors? Whether they are from business, industry, commerce, professional bodies, societies, associations or universities, local councils or governing bodies, potential ambassadors are people who are in a position to make influential recommendations. They might be customers, old colleagues, friends, fellow committee members in professional bodies or contacts from the past. Or a former mentor

Even if you can't immediately think of anyone, just remember that most people like helping others and hold the thought in the back of your mind that you are seeking an ambassador. Once you acknowledge that you are looking for one, a suitable person is much more likely to appear. That's because we tend to see what we are looking for.

Most successful people work hard, but also admit to being lucky. But you can give your luck a helping hand

If you visualise being successful and attracting a helpful ambassador, your subconscious doesn't know the difference between imagining and reality, so it will start drawing you towards things that help you achieve your goals. You won't find an ambassador just by imagining one, but visualising having an ambassador will make you feel more hopeful and energised and boost your chances of finding one.

Why not list finding ambassadors on your PR plan?

Ambassadors lend an air of credibility to your organisation. They are not colleagues or contacts on referral programmes, recommending you for some sort of reward or quid pro quo.

Referrals are more likely to be generated by equals. Ambassadors will actively promote your business because they believe in you and what you are trying to do. They like to see younger up and coming business people develop. And it's a two-way street. You will keep them fresh and up-to-date with new technology and the latest thinking in your sphere. And take them to interesting places to swap notes on the industry and your latest ideas.

I would also suggest that you periodically give your ambassador something that money can't buy easily.

Maybe you know a skilled artist whose style reflects your ambassador's own taste?

Or you have written a book you can dedicate to them?

Something special hand-crafted with their name that you have carefully judged is to their taste?

Or a bottle of their favourite and difficult to obtain single malt or wine?

Hard to obtain tickets to something they will love?

All of these things are worth more than a more expensive present and they force you to really pay attention to your ambassador's preferences: something that will make them feel special and appreciated.

Ambassadors may also be regarded by many as opinion formers and they may in fact be both. The difference is, opinion formers are useful, but are more remote than ambassadors. You may seek to influence opinion-formers, but it is unlikely that an opinion-former will actively promote your business in the way an ambassador does.

If they do make excellent comments about you or your business, your opinion-former has just re-classified him or herself as a potential ambassador.

The word-art for this post was created at

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


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Anonymous Jill Blake said...

What are the best ways to 'use' an ambassador in a PR campaign?

25 September 2009 at 12:43  
Anonymous Penny Haywood Calder said...

It's a fair question, but I would look upon an ambassador as a long-term positive influential relationship. Someone that can open doors for you or a client. They add status to a business. Every business will use them slightly differently depending on their objectives, target audiences and key messages. They might make introductions. Or provide a heavyweight quote that adds extra cred to the press release about a report you have authored or commissioned. Or a survey.
Having said that, you could appoint a campaign ambassador who has credible strong connections to a specific campaign theme and use their position and insight to add impressive sidelights on the issue, or an endorsement.
If they are also well known, they are sliding out of ambassadorial territory into the celebrity endorsement space.

29 September 2009 at 18:01  
Anonymous jill blake said...

Thanks for the insight Penny.

30 September 2009 at 15:58  

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