Everyone’s heard the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad PR”, but nothing could be further from the truth. PR, or public relations is one of those areas of business that people have a lot of opinions about, but there’s a lot of mystery behind the scenes.
Here’s the good news. PR is the perfect, low cost way for small businesses to market their business in a highly credible way. Compared with other forms of marketing, prospects tend to be more receptive to learning about a business through the media or a speaking engagement because there’s an external validation that says “this company is reliable and legitimate.”
Marketing has been radically transformed by the Internet, which means businesses of all sizes are now able to go DIY with PR. As a small business, getting started with PR is quite simple once you master a few basics. Here’s some ways to get started with your DIY PR:
Understand What PR Really Is
PR encompasses a lot of different marketing activities, but the simplest definition is the spread of information from an individual/organization and the public. Think media relations, speaking engagements and industry awards. At its core, PR comes down to building awareness and credibility.
PR is not something that can be bought. It is earned, which means as a small businesses, you’ll need to do some work to get noticed, but once you do, the payoff will be well worth it.
Find Your Story
PR that will help you stand out is about having a great story. For media relations in particular, you want to create a series of signature stories about your company, products/services and employees.
When creating your story you want to consider:
- What is the story of your business?
- What makes your business unique?
- What needs do you do fill in the market?
- What trends/issues do you help address?
In considering your story, you want to look at it from the perspective of your target audience. What interests them and will help them connect with your story. A great story will tap into trends, issues, fears while being unique. It doesn’t need to be revolutionary, but it should deliver a new point of view or approach.
Before you really get going with PR, it’s worthwhile to map out these stories so you have a strong foundation.
Do Your Homework
The Internet means you can find guest blog posting gigs, details on speaking engagements and the email addresses for your favorite media personality. Before you write that email and hit send, research should be done to source opportunities and map them to your stories.
For guest posting opportunities you can start off by Googling topics you’d like to cover plus the term guest post or look at where other companies in your field may have provided articles. For speaking engagements, find trade shows or local venues and find out where they get their speakers. Be on the lookout for calls for speakers where you can apply to speak. And finally, for media, get to know the types of stories they cover, understand how they work and what their contact preferences are.
Anyone can send an email, but taking the time to do things the right way will help set you apart.
Build a Manageable Plan
If you do decide to go DIY with your PR, you want to build a plan that is realistic and manageable as this is really only one thing you need to do in your business. Create an approach where you can do things on a consistent basis to move things ahead, and there’s a logical flow. For example, if you are not well known yet in your industry, start off with guest blog posting and local speaking engagements to build your credibility. From there, you can step into bigger national speaking engagements or mainstream media as you’ll have “proof” as to your expert status.
Also, try to avoid the trap of just doing PR when you have a major project or launch you want to promote. Consistent PR where you are consistently building your awareness and credibility will have greater impact in the long run.
PR has the power to transform your small business by helping you reach new prospects and establishing you as an expert in your field. All you need to do is master a few basics and you’ll be well on your way.
Maggie Patterson is a PR strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn the building blocks of PR. She’s a passionate advocate for smart PR that gets business results and businesses doing DIY with their PR. Learn more about DIY PR and how to get started using guest blog posts here. Image courtesy frontiersofinteraction