Did you know that it is not only larger companies with a larger marketing spend that can benefit from public relations and PR- but smaller businesses too?
This article will aim to break down the importance of a strong PR strategy for small businesses and will aim to explore the role it plays in growth and marketing.
Why are public relations so important?
In broad terms, public relations (PR) is a strategic communications tool used to generate interest and create a positive perception of a brand with the general public. A successful PR strategy will spread awareness, build positive relationships, and showcase the achievements and successes of a company whilst bringing them closer to meeting their business objectives. That is, good PR efforts will positively contribute towards a business’ wider marketing and advertising strategy. It also protects and strengthens a company’s reputation by building trust with its audiences and stakeholders; and serves as a reliable strategy for handling a crisis. As such, PR is a vital publicity tool that enables a company to stand out from its competition and gain a competitive edge, whilst building credibility and growing its audience.
How PR benefits small businesses
The biggest challenge for small businesses is implementing strong PR initiatives with a smaller marketing budget than a larger company. There are, however, many low-cost ways small businesses can utilise PR strategies to generate coverage and grow their business without compromising on results.
In her recent blog article, Katie Lundin from Crowdspring gives various proven cost-friendly PR tactics that small businesses can implement to engage with the public. For brevity’s sake, this article will only focus on four of these tactics:
1. Tell your story
Every small business has its own brand story relating to its origin, how it began, its missions, and its goals.
As Katie points out, people love reading about stories, which makes this a great way for a business to connect and relate to its audience.
But she emphasises- that before a company can tell a compelling narrative about its brand that engages all its target audiences, they need to know what that story is.
Katie advises that small business owners should take the time to evaluate what their brand story is and to consider which stories are worth sharing about their business.
This is finding their “why”.
This could be: Why did you start your business? How did your company begin? Why do you do what you do?
Once having evaluated and established what their story is, small business owners will then be well equipped to craft and share their stories – whether that be on their company website or in a blog post – and position their business as a brand.
2. Set Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a free content detection tool that can be used by businesses to receive alerts anytime their company, brand name, or keywords are mentioned online. That is, whenever Google identifies new results that match the phrases or keywords set by a user to conduct searches, it will send them an email with all the web pages containing their specified search terms.
So, how are Google Alerts good for PR?
As Katie mentions, by being able to monitor what is being said about its company, small businesses can gain a better understanding of how their online reputation and how their brand is perceived. For instance, if Google finds a link with negative content about a company’s brand, the said business can clean up its online reputation which, in turn, prevents the need for crisis management (a business plan in the event of a reputational crisis).
3. Write and distribute press releases
A press release is a concise official announcement about a business that is written and sent to local media outlets. News publications are always looking for content to create stories from. Distributing press releases, therefore, creates a ‘win-win’ situation – it allows small businesses to generate media attention whilst also benefitting the news sources themselves. This is just one of the reasons why press releases are such an excellent, quick way for businesses to directly connect with local media and inform the public about their company.
Press release templates are also readily available online, which small businesses can use to get started quickly with drafting press releases.
As Katie mentions, some situations when are small business might consider writing a press release are when they are:
- just getting started with launching their business
- expanding to a new location or changing locations
- launching a new service or product
- holding a local event
- sponsored fundraising to raise money for a chosen charity
- any other major development or news they want to share with their target groups
Katie’s advice is to create a list of local press contacts that should be included whenever a press release is distributed.
For any more significant or newsworthy information, Katie suggests creating a list of industry influencers or national trade association contacts, to whom businesses can send press releases if the news extends beyond the local community.
4. Build relationships with influencers
Social media is a powerful tool that can be utilised by businesses to engage and interact with their audience directly.
Influencers are essentially content producers who are experts within a specific topic or niche, and who produce regular social media content that generates a large following base. One main advantage is that, by researching and informally contacting influencers within their business area, companies will in effect be increasing the visibility of their brand and building awareness within their target audience.
Businesses should bear in mind though that the objective of networking with influencers should be to build relationships rather than to solely generate media coverage for their brand. In other words, interactions with any influencer (whether that be a blogger, Youtuber, or reporter) should be non-sales driven unless a paid promotional relationship has been established.
With that being said, maintaining regular communication with influencers covering their specific industry is a great way for companies to ensure they stay ‘top of mind’ whenever a media contact is looking for a business to write about.