I am often asked if PR is really necessary for small businesses or if it is just an extra expense that can be avoided. The truth is that PR is not just for the ‘big boys’. It could be argued that a decent strategy for a startup is the difference between success and failure.
However, I am well aware that cost can be an issue when your fledgling business is growing. You don’t need to hire an agency to do your PR for you, there is much you can do yourself, or if you don’t have the time and require some expert help, why not use a platform like The Work Crowd? Here, you can post your project and get the benefit of some short-term professional freelance support.
When growing your business, here are some top PR tips for you to action straight away:
1. Make your customer base aware of your product or service
This is probably the main reason that businesses think about investing in public relations. All businesses need sales or the use of their service to stay afloat and creating awareness of the product or service is the first step to achieving this.
Before you invest your time in PR, ensure you are effectively communicating who you are, what you offer and how you differ from your competition in your marketing material, web presence and messaging across all touch points to your prospective audience.
Locating and understanding your audience is key here – as well as understanding where your audience is and what sort of media they consume. If you work B2B, familiarize yourself with any trade publications within your market sector and start building relationships with Journalists working there. Seek them out at networking events or be old fashioned and ask them for lunch.
2. Build you brand online via articles and features.
Online PR is a real winner for small businesses because articles that mention your product or service are there to stay – always and forever! Your business will continue to reap the benefits of these for the foreseeable future, compared to print publications that are normally binned after reading. It may take time to reap the rewards of online articles – it is a rare thing that huge amounts of traffic to your website will be generated immediately uless you manage to get a ‘backlink’ from an exceptionally popular national. However, building up a bank of articles and features about your company and what you do, will help you increase your online reputation as well as the likelihood of new customers finding you via search, over time. Generally, new customers Google a product or a service, so if you have a good raft of online material, the likelihood is that you will be higher in the search rankings.
3. Get on to social media
Even in this day and age, many small businesses don’t quite grasp the importance of being visible on social media. Set up a company page on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ (Google+ is good housekeeping and will help make you more visible in search rankings). Twitter is a great tool, as are Instagram and pinterest – depending on what it is you do or sell. Make sure all your pages have a succinct ‘about us’ section that is uniform across the board. The same goes for company logo and background image. Don’t forget to include a link to your website.
Once you are set up, you can use tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule social media. It is important to keep up your presence. One tweet a fortnight is not going to have an impact – similarly, scheduling saves time, but make sure you engage with your audience, curate some useful content and answer queries promptly.
4. Underpinning and supporting other marketing and sales activity
PR is very good for underpinning and promoting any other sales activity. If you integrate all your marketing, you can ensure consistent messages are being delivered across different channels that support each other.
This is where it really helps to have a series of positive and informative articles about your company or a particular product across various publications, which gives your business extra kudos.
Additionally, your marketing activity can be enough to trigger a PR story in itself. However, do remember that a small business may have to work harder for coverage. New products, launching interesting marketing campaigns or new websites are all newsworthy stories to the right publications. This is where your networking will come in – remember those journalists you spoke to at that event or took out to lunch? Time to pick up the phone and sell in.
For free tips on how to do PR and get your business in the press download our PR Toolkit.