PR (or public relations) can be defined as the practice of managing your organisation’s public reputation. Building and maintaining a good reputation is critical for any organisation, but it is especially important for small businesses who need to make themselves known – and for the right reasons.
Successful PR is an effective way to generate new business. But how can it be achieved when your company doesn’t have the money or resources to employ a PR agency? Here are our five top PR tips for small businesses:
The core mantra of PR could be “telling is better than selling”. Engaging storytelling helps you generate sales without any overt promotional push. Having a strong brand story that engages the public is an excellent way to build your business’s reputation and revenue.
Your brand story could come from a combination of you and your customers. Tell the tale of your brand’s origins, its evolution, and the key values underpinning its existence. You can enlist loyal customers to tell the stories of their relationship with your business. Stories like these can create a clear and impactful image of your business.
Develop your brand story with the goal of humanising your business, allowing the audience to connect with it emotionally. Giving your small business a human-like persona can put you at a competitive advantage. According to a study by Forrester Consulting, 57% of consumers have stated they would be more loyal to a brand they perceive as “human”.
Recent figures have shown that only 60% of UK businesses use social media. That means almost half of businesses are not taking advantage of a key tool for effective do-it-yourself PR.
Social media platforms allow you to interact with your customers and respond to their feedback. Of course, customer feedback is not always positive. Some companies fear opening themselves up to public criticism and the commitment of responding to potentially difficult comments.
But, if done successfully and consistently though, this can establish your brand reputation as responsive and human (57% of consumers say that human communication would raise their likelihood of staying loyal to a brand).
Social media can also help you reach out to an audience that hold the key to your business getting valuable press coverage…
Getting a journalist to cover your business in the press can be an excellent way to get your story out there. Journalists are in the business of finding and reporting stories. Their professional need matches your need to get your business noticed.
Journalists can be approached with a pitch or a story that has value to them, when it has the goal of winning press coverage for your business. However, a pitch that reads solely as promotion for your business is unlikely to win any coverage. You need to ensure that what you offer journalists presents something unique or valuable to their readers.
One way to achieve this is to keep track of journalist’s media enquiries. Following the hashtag #journorequest allows you to see the kinds of stories journalists are looking for. They may be eager to interview an expert in your sector or talk to local business owners. Maybe your business becomes relevant to a trend that’s receiving a lot of press. Opportunities like this give you a valuable opportunity to get press coverage.
This tip relates to all of our other points. Establishing yourself as an authority in your sector is a great way to reap reputational rewards. Share your expertise with the public in whatever form you can. Examples include submitting blog articles as a guest poster, creating or networking at events and even publishing short videos of you sharing industry tips and advice.
This is another area where social media can help you reach your goals. LinkedIn especially is a useful platform where you can publish posts that demonstrate your thought leadership.
By taking the effort to continually share your expertise using the above methods, you may become recognised as a leader in your field. This can open even more opportunities to build your reputation, including invitations to speak at public events or requests to be interviewed.
The PR potential of an effective press release cannot be underestimated. A recent survey of over 200 journalists found that an incredible 100% considered press releases their number one way of finding stories.
Press releases are an excellent way to gain coverage of your business’s news, events, or achievements. But like pitches, they have to offer value and relevance to the audience. This takes some effort, but fortunately press releases do not need to be long-form pieces of writing. We recommend keeping their length to 500 words at a maximum.
Some more tips for writing successful press releases: use simple language, attention-grabbing headlines and a first paragraph that covers all of the key facts you want to convey. Be sure to include some good quotes and a relevant photograph that visually supports the story. Following these tips should maximise the odds you get good coverage from the press release.
To conclude, although PR is often thought of as a tool exclusively for big business, there are many ways a small business can use their existing resources to build and maintain a good reputation. Use reliable storytelling techniques to craft a compelling brand story, then put that story out there by taking advantage of social media, pitches and press releases, and any opportunities you find to demonstrate your thought leadership.