Fostering a trusting relationship between businesses and the public is the goal of public relations (PR), a strategic communication strategy.
You don't need a journalism background to partake in PR—simply being creative and tactful will do.
Businesses of all sizes should consider employing public relations and brand awareness methods in their regular marketing strategy. While PR can help businesses short-term, it is ultimately a long-term play to achieve visibility, awareness, credibility, and trust.
PR for Small Businesses
By creating connections with journalists and other writers who can include you in their publications or websites, PR aids in spreading the word about your products or services.
PR is about more than just getting your name out there.
Building trust with target audiences can help them perceive you as an expert on any subject you choose.
Consider this: Prior to opening its doors in your area, a new coffee shop shares a press release. Local news websites pick it up, it comes across your social media feed, and a TV reporter might speak on it for 30 seconds on-air.
The week of the opening comes and you see advertisements for a grand opening on social media, in your local newspaper, or even driving by the new store location. You remember the coffee shop's name since it was mentioned in the news a few weeks ago.
The holiday season arrives and the local coffee shop wants to bring the community together by holding a toy drive. They submit another press release that gets circulated online, and this time, the store manager is being interviewed by a TV reporter on-air.
As a result of their PR efforts, this new local coffee shop has had steady customers since their opening, shines a positive light in the community, and increased seasonal sales drastically given that a higher amount customers were visiting the store and buying coffee more frequently during the toy drive collection.
That is one small example of the power of effective PR.
When to Use PR
Small businesses can use PR for a variety of reasons, including:
Opening a new location: Alert your local customer base that a new store is opening in their area. Build excitement for the store's grand opening by offering freebies or rewards.
Offering a new good or service: Let your customers (and prospective customers) know of your latest offerings! If you're offering a service they were considering purchasing elsewhere, they might choose yours, instead, just by knowing it exists.
Launching a new program: Your loyal customer base wants to know about anything new happening at your business! Execute PR efforts for in-store events, charitable giving, or anything that'll catch their eye.
Starting a new company initiative: Are you aiming to reduce your carbon footprint by a given year? Did you remodel your store? Enlighten your customers on your changes and initiatives to build more rapport.
Crisis mode (reputation management): In the event of a business crisis, how you chose to react is imperative to your company's future success. Depending on the severity of a situation, consider consulting with a lawyer before making public statements. You might need to run a reputation management campaign, too, which aims to repair any damage done to your business by the public eye.
6 PR Tactics for Small Businesses
Now that you understand the positive results and use cases of implementing PR in your business strategy, here are some effective ways to execute PR campaigns.
1. Send Newsletters
E-mail newsletters are one of the easiest, most effective ways to convert leads into customers and increase customer retention.
Not sure what to include in a newsletter? Start here:
Keep customers informed about your business such as new services offered, altered holiday hours, and new locations.
Promote your goods or services including sales, events, and new releases.
Share your expertise via articles, interviews, and video content.
2. Share on Social Media
Engage consumers across social platforms. Social media content ideas include:
Announcements about new products or services
Sharing tips on topics related to your business
Providing great customer service
Addressing FAQs about your products or services
3. Connect with Influencers
Find influencers, journalists, and bloggers through search engines, social media, and even asking friends or colleagues.
Consider your target audience first. Which influences, news outlets, or websites do they consume? Build out a list of prospects and determine how you'll reach out to them.
Cold outreach isn't a thing of the past, despite some belief in its effectiveness. Rather, an influencer or journalist might be appreciative you shared your new product or service with them first, giving them an opportunity to share it with the world before others.
Keep in mind: Influencers and journalists are people, too! Don't let their status intimidate you, but also be considerate of their time and only communicate respectfully.
4. Promote Through Video Marketing
You can use video platforms like Vimeo or YouTube as promotional tools to connect with more customers.
YouTube has more than 122 million daily active users and is able to be integrated with countless other platforms, making it a go-to for most businesses and marketers.
You can easily share YouTube videos across social platforms, embed them in emails or on your website, and track engagements along the way.
The key to video marketing is no secret, yet no simple feat: You should create engaging videos that appeal to potential customers and encourage them to buy your products or services.
5. Have a Professional Website
Businesses must understand the importance of having a great website. After all, why have a website if it isn't useful to your consumers?
Just a handful of website must-haves include:
Use Call to Actions (CTAs)
Easy user navigation
Optimized for SEO
Collect leads through sign-ups
6. Send Press Releases
Press releases successfully reach many potential clients and important individuals who can aid in word-of-mouth marketing campaigns that promote your business. They also enable companies to establish themselves as authorities in their specialized fields.
Press releases give you the opportunity to get more media coverage than you may otherwise using only conventional advertising techniques like print ads or television commercials.
Do your research, select a dedicated press release provider, and start sharing your business' happenings with the world!
PR Mistakes for Small Businesses to Avoid
An ineffective press release—or any marketing campaign, for that matter—can be attributed to the following mistakes:
Missing a call to action: What should your consumer say, feel, or do after engaging with your content?
Lacking a compelling backstory: Let your consumers immediately know why they should care about your business initiative.
Omitting newsworthy details from your message: Customers want to know the who, what, where, when, why, and how, so don't miss out on your opportunity to share every little detail with them! Company honesty breeds consumer trust.
Missing contact information: Should a consumer, journalist, or other individual want to get in touch with your business, ensure they can. Provide a contact name and email address, at the least.
Leverage Your PR Strategy for Growth
Implementing PR tactics in your digital marketing strategy can help your business thrive. There are many opportunities for small businesses to be proactive in their brand awareness and PR efforts, so don't miss out on easy press opportunities and sacrifice broadening your customer base.
As a rule of thumb, be creative, be honest, and earn more business through respect.