PR Strategies for Small Businesses
Public Relations, or PR, strategies are not exclusive to large Corporations. Small Business can use PR to grow their business as well. In fact, small businesses can benefit even more by gaining exposure to new customers. One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is to create awareness. PR can help to create buzz and word of mouth so more customers become aware of your unique product or service. But how do small businesses get that exposure through PR? This article will walk you through 7 simple PR strategies to get people talking about your business.
What is Public Relations?
You have likely heard the phrase any publicity is good publicity. Well, this is certainly debatable. Just ask the restaurant owner that just received a bad food review if they are happy. But even if you subscribe to this belief, it’s safe to say that most businesses would prefer good publicity over negative. This is where Public Relations, or PR, comes in.
Wikipedia defines Public Relations as “the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public in order to affect the public perception.” As a business owner or manager of marketing for a business, you have a specific job to do when it comes to PR. It’s to create the information/story, define who needs to hear it, and devise a strategy for getting it to them. The medium that information, is disseminated out to the public through can vary. It can be a traditional publication, such as newspaper or magazine, an online publication, TV news, radio, or social media.
Why are PR Strategies Important?
PR is a tool in your Marketing toolbox. But many business owners and even marketers have a difficult harnessing it’s power as it’s trickier than other marketing tools. PR requires a bit of strategy, a bit of storytelling, a bit of who you know, and a bit of luck. But, if you are able to include it in the mix for your business, it’s a great way to raising awareness for your business and driving Customer Acquisition. PR can give you reach to new audiences you might not reach otherwise. It can generate word of mouth and credibility in ways that other marketing efforts cannot.
Another reason to consider PR is that it’s low cost. PR is generally has no marketing cost. If there is a cost associated with it, then it likely is not PR, but rather advertising or promotion.
That said, to be successful with public relations, it can be time-consuming. Whether it’s your time or that of a member of your team, that time is money, so make sure to weigh that into your overall marketing plan. As you read through the strategies below, think about how you will carve out time without distractions to think through your strategy, your story, and the tactics for getting the story out. Renting a temporary office space, such as a Coworking Space, can be very helpful in giving you the time and focus you will need for this.
PR Strategies to Get Started
While there are many, many ways to gaining PR exposure, here we focus on the most fundamental and simplest in terms of getting started. If you are interested in more PR tactics and ideas, you can check out these 101 Public Relations Strategies, Tips, and Examples.
1. Create a Unique Story
In order to get picked up by the media, public personality, influencer, or other public medium, you will have to have a unique story that people want to talk about and hear about. This can be a heartwarming story about how your business/product/service helped someone. It could be about how your business was the underdog, but persevered to success. Or perhaps how your business has risen in the face of severe challenges. There are many different types of stories that could be of interest, but it must be authentic and needs to appeal to your audience. You cannot manufacture a story just for the sake of a story. Always keep an eye out for these circumstances that can be brought to life in words and shared with the public.
2. Be the Expert
Another way to garner public attention is to provide expert advice or information to your audience. You could publish a list of tips or a guide to doing something or an article on a certain topic. For example, if you are a financial consultant, you could provide the 10 Steps for getting out of debt. If you are a realestate broker, you could provide tips for selling your home. Many of these ideas should also be included in an overall content strategy. Be sure that you are harnessing your expertise and using that to provide content to your audience and customers. Being the Expert in your field with helpful information is a great way to contribute to other publications, become a guest speaker, or have an article published.
3. Be Charitable
Donating your goods or services to those in need is not only a kind and decent thing to do, but it may also be a way to gain publicity. Start local and see where the opportunities are to help within your community. Let others know that you are looking to support them and other local needs. Check in with any local business associations or networks. You want to make sure that you identify an opportunity where your donation will really make an impact.
4. Speak at events
The next in the list of PR strategies is to look for opportunities where your expertise can be of value. Whatever your business is, you have an expertise that can benefit someone. You can start small to gain experience with speaking. For example, you can look within your own community for speaking engagements, such as business associations, clubs, Moms groups, fitness organizations, schools, and more. Once you are comfortable with speaking in public, you can start to look at bigger opportunities. This might be conferences, offline or online events, podcasts, or various corporate or group meetings. Look for places where you can speak to an audience about a topic that can help them.
5. Social Media
When it comes to social media, there are so many different channels to explore. You can creating a unique social media post or video that can go viral. Or you can look to influencers to share about your product or service. Focus on one social media app that you have a growing following, are actively engaging in, and have audience engagement in. Make sure this is part of your overall social media strategy to ensure brand consistency.
6. Network with Influencers and Media
As much as possible, try to connect with media contacts and influencers. Having relationships can help you when it’s time to share information with the public. Don’t be afraid to send your story or information out often, as it may not get published right away. Once you have your story, distill it down into an elevator pitch that you can share whenever possible. Be sure to tap into any collaborations or partnerships that you have as well.
7. Create a Media Kit
Finally, make sure that you have a media kit ready to go. The media kit can be short and sweet to begin with. It needs to have what your business, product, or services are all about. Make sure to outline who your customer target it, what their need is, and how you serve them. Highlight any key metrics that illustrate your success, including sales, distribution, social media, and other notable publications and/or awards.
Leverage PR Over and Over
Once you gain publicity, it can be difficult to replicate, so make sure to leverage it as much as possible! Share it to social media channels, in Email Newsletters, and send it to others in your Network. Finally, be sure to follow up with the media channel that gave you the publicity to see if there are more opportunities in the future!
PR Strategies Can Make a Difference
Developing and executing on PR strategies is not a slam dunk. There is often much trial and error before you see significant returns. However, with the right story you can truly make a significant impact and reach more customers at a low cost.
Be sure to check out these other articles for ways to strengthen your marketing efforts and reach new customers.