You may think of PR, or public relations, as something that only big organizations and corporations practice. But on the contrary, PR is integral to the marketing efforts of all businesses. After all, all companies are built upon and defined by their relationships with their customers and other organizations.
With this in mind, the only question is whether you want to be proactive with how these relationships develop or for your brand's public image and status to be decided by forces outside your control.
Handling your PR as a small business comes with several challenges. Not least of which is a likely limited budget. But thankfully, there are plenty of methods and strategies you can utilize to get around these challenges, which we're going to show you here.
This guide details what PR is, how it can be helpful to smaller businesses and a list of strategies smaller companies can implement to improve their own PR efforts. Here are the main points in this guide:
- What Is PR?
- PR Strategies for Your Small Business
- Write a Press Release
- Build Connections With Influencers
- Create a Media Kit
- Engage in Your Community
What Is PR?
PR stands for public relations and relates to building and maintaining relationships with an organization's external stakeholders to develop brand awareness and trust.
It extends and differs from a company's general marketing strategy, which focuses on promoting a business's products and services.
Why Is PR For Small Businesses Valuable?
Good PR is valuable to small businesses for many of the same reasons that it is advantageous to larger companies. And though a small business's PR goals will be smaller in scale, they often remain the same in concept. Such goals may include:
- Establishing trust with a target audience
- Fostering a solid brand identity with its unique voice and values
- Improving brand visibility and reach
- Developing a reputation by showcasing expertise
- Building communication channels with the media
- Managing negative press
Let's take a look now at how you can go about achieving these goals by utilizing common PR strategies.
PR Strategies for Your Small Business
Public relations (PR) is a strategic communication process used by small businesses to create and maintain a positive public image, build relationships with customers and other stakeholders, and increase brand awareness.
It incorporates a set of tactics and approaches to public relations that are explicitly tailored to the needs of small businesses. These strategies include creating press releases, developing relationships with local media outlets, leveraging social media, hosting events or attending trade shows, creating press conferences, and more. These strategies aim to increase brand visibility, create positive publicity, and ultimately drive sales.
Small businesses can use a variety of PR tactics to reach their target audiences, including press releases, media interviews, social media campaigns, events, and more.
For example, a small business may send out press releases to local newspapers announcing the launch of a new product or service. They may also host an event for customers to learn more about the company’s offerings and interact with staff members. Additionally, they might create social media accounts on platforms like Facebook or Twitter to engage with their followers and promote special offers or discounts.
By utilizing these tactics, small businesses can effectively communicate their message to the public while building trust in their brand. Let’s see the steps to implement a PR for small businesses.
1) Identify Your Goals
The first step in building your PR strategy is to identify your goals. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with PR and how it can help your business grow. Consider what kind of reputation you want to build and how you want customers to think of your brand.
2) Develop Your Message
Once you have identified your goals, it's time to develop a message that reflects them. Think about the core values of your business and the unique selling points that will make customers choose you over competitors. Determine the key messages that will be used in all future communication, from press releases and media pitches to social media posts and website copy.
3) Write a Press Release
A press release is a written statement prepared for and delivered to media members. They are typically associated with big news stories. However, a press release can effectively be about anything so long as someone is likely to consider it to be newsworthy.
Press releases effectively increase your brand's reach by leveraging media exposure. It’s an essential part of PR for small businesses. And when done correctly, this can result in a significant boost to your SEO and link-building efforts.
Furthermore, the nature of a press release allows you to control the narrative around your brand. As such, it can also be a valuable tool for challenging bad press.
How to Create a Press Release?
The first thing you need to create a press release is a newsworthy announcement. Some common examples of information that might warrant a press release include the following:
- The launch of a new product line
- Event announcements
- Hosting a Local Event
- Sponsoring or partaking in a charitable venture
- The Publication of new research and studies
- A new book launch
- Official reaction to a story involving your brand
The actual press release itself should be concise and punchy as possible. Typically, a press release should be a page long at maximum. Within this page, there should be two-three paragraphs detailing your announcement. It should also include information about your company, accompanying images, and contact information.
4) Establish Relationships
Establishing relationships with journalists, bloggers, influencers, industry experts, and other relevant contacts is essential for any successful PR for small businesses. Reach out to these contacts through emails or social media platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn so they can learn more about your brand and become familiar with your offer.
Building Connections With Influencers
Influencers are individuals who have a strong following in a particular niche. They may be experts, professionals, or media personalities. But in any case, their opinions are seen as reputable and valuable in the eyes of their audience. And as a result, their endorsement (or disapproval) of a product, service, or brand can make or break a business's success.
Understandably, there are many benefits to working, either directly or indirectly, with an influencer:
- Help grow your social media following
- Lead to endorsements that improve your sales
- Extend your brand reach to new audiences
- Lead to high-quality testimonials
- Drive traffic to your website
- Help you reach your target audience in a manner that feels exciting and authentic to them.
How to Work With Influencers?
There's a lot more to working with influencers than you might think. And it's not a case of simply googling influencers in your industry and then sending through proposals.
For starters, the top picks on Google will likely be out of your price range. And influencers aren't going to endorse any product from a random offer. After all, they have reputations to upkeep.
Instead, you'll want to find mid-tier accounts by looking carefully through social media or working with a PR agency. Don't just focus on an influencer's follower count, but the level of engagement through likes and comments they inspire. You'll also want to ensure that their personality and audience are likely to match up well with your brand.
Once you've found an influencer that seems like a good fit, you must be courteous and respectful of their time. And if they do choose to work with you, ensure you provide them with everything they need to promote what you're offering correctly.
5) Create a Media Kit
Putting together a media kit may be an excellent first port of call if you're looking for quick wins concerning your PR efforts. And if you think there's even a remote chance that some form of media will cover your brand's efforts, there's no reason you shouldn't have one.
A media kit serves as a PR ambassador for your business by providing journalists, content creators, bloggers, and other media pros with the resources needed to accurately present your brand's identity. As a result, it's a valuable tool for ensuring the narrative surrounding your brand stays within your control.
How to Put Together a Media Kit?
A media kit is relatively easy to put together and is one of the most essential elements of a PR for small businesses. Still, ensuring it contains everything it needs to serve its purpose is crucial.
What your media kit contains will depend on the nature of your business. However, it should typically include the following at a minimum:
An introduction to your brand story, including its origin and goals
- Bios for critical members of the business
- Headshots of key individuals
- A company logo
- Images of products you sell
- Pictures of your services in action
- A fact sheet regarding your organization
- Any other unique information or images that provides insight into your business
You should also ensure your media kit is easily accessible, preferably available to download from your website from a dedicated media page.
6) Engage in Your Community
Whether large or small, local or entirely online, all businesses depend on their communities to exist. And it always pays to give back to those communities in some form.
Not only does this make a good impression, but it's also a great way to pull together your team and do something that your brand can be proud of. Not to mention it will help foster a community spirit.
It also shows that your brand is willing to back up what it claims to be its values with actual tangible actions. And when it comes to PR, your track record will often speak volumes for itself.
How to Get Involved With Your Community?
There are a seemingly infinite number of ways that you can engage with your local community and develop a PR for small businesses. And whether it means doing charity work and supporting local businesses to partaking in local events, finding ways to get involved shouldn't be too difficult.
Showing genuine interest is key here. And it is not a case of doing one good deed for a photo opportunity and never showing interest again. Instead, keep up to date with what's happening within your communities. And then lend a helping hand when you can.
7) Monitor & Analyze Results
It’s essential to track the results of any PR campaigns so that you can determine what works best for your business and adjust accordingly if needed. Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Hootsuite Insights to monitor website traffic, engagement on social media posts, etc., so you can see how effective each campaign was at reaching its goals.
8) Respond & Adapt
As part of an effective PR strategy, responding quickly and effectively when something goes wrong or when a customer has a complaint or concern about your product/service is essential.
This shows customers that you take their feedback seriously and are willing to make changes if necessary to improve their experience with your company. Additionally, be sure to adapt your strategy as needed based on customer feedback or changes in the industry so that it remains relevant and effective over time.
Managing PR is an inevitable aspect of any business. And while your PR strategy may not need to be complex, it does need to be consistent and proactive. But now that you know the basics of PR for small businesses, you can start taking the necessary steps to start building your brand's PR strategy today.