PR Strate­gies for Small Busi­nesses

Enterprise - - Contents -

Be­hind nearly ev­ery news fea­ture, pro­file or re­view about any com­pany is a great public re­la­tions strat­egy. You might have a great story to tell, but get­ting the word out — and more im­por­tantly, get­ting the media in­ter­ested — re­quires some real PR know-how.

You may not have the bud­get to keep a PR firm on re­tainer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a pro­fes­sional-level media out­reach strat­egy. With a lit­tle bit of re­search, plan­ning and ef­fort, you can get your busi­ness’s name out there while keep­ing your com­mu­ni­ca­tions fresh and cre­ative.

Whether you’re han­dling your own public re­la­tions or think­ing about hir­ing a con­sul­tant, here are a few af­ford­able but ef­fec­tive strate­gies to boost your busi­ness’s recog­ni­tion and en­gage­ment.

Make friends with in­dus­try in­flu­encers. The first step in cre­at­ing a good com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy is to con­nect with the right peo­ple. This is es­pe­cially true if you’re do­ing your own PR, as you won’t have the ad­van­tage of es­tab­lished PR firms’ ro­bust media lists. One pro­fes­sional says that it’s crit­i­cal for busi­nesses to do their due dili­gence and iden­tify the ap­pro­pri­ate out­lets and re­porters who cover your in­dus­try and mar­ket. Then, reach out, cul­ti­vate a re­la­tion­ship and send your pitch.

Even if re­porters aren’t able to write about you at first, one ex­pert noted that you should try to main­tain reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion with these key in­flu­encers to keep you on their radar.

Re­fresh your mes­sag­ing. Not get­ting any press at­ten­tion? You might want to give your mes­sage a makeover. The ex­pert ad­vised an­a­lyz­ing a few of your com­peti­tors and cre­at­ing a “mes­sage map” by iden­ti­fy­ing key phrases and mes­sage points of com­peti­tors and com­par­ing them against your own. When done, it pro­vides a way for you to clearly see your com­pany’s po­si­tion against those of your peers so you can ad­just mes­sag­ing as nec­es­sary.

When you’re up­dat­ing your media mes­sage, be sure to fig­ure out a few dif­fer­ent story an­gles that you can “sell” to the media, who won’t be in­ter­ested in writ­ing a piece that’s es­sen­tially an ad­ver­tise­ment for your com­pany.

“Re­porters don’t just write about how fab­u­lous you are or how won­der­ful your com­pany is,” said one media ex­ec­u­tive. “Jour­nal­ists want to learn about what makes you tick and what ob­sta­cles you’ve had to over­come to get where you are to­day. Sto­ries are the heart and soul of PR.”

Hook into sea­sonal trends. Sea­sonal or event-based pitches can be a great way to of­fer a timely story that isn’t all about you and your com­pany. Look ahead one or two months — is there an an­niver­sary, a na­tional recog­ni­tion or cel­e­bra­tion day or a sea­sonal change that brings dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties, en­ter­tain­ment or foods into fo­cus? Cre­ate an in­fo­graphic around it to put your com­pany into that con­text for re­porters. In­fo­graph­ics are also great orig­i­nal con­tent to share through your so­cial net­works and with cus­tomers.

Dis­trib­ute a mul­ti­me­dia news re­lease. If you want to reach a large num­ber of news out­lets at once, you can try a dis­tri­bu­tion ser­vice that will send your news re­lease to many na­tional and lo­cal jour­nal­ists who might be in­ter­ested.

While long-term strate­gic plan­ning is best, your com­pany might ben­e­fit from div­ing right into some of these strate­gies to see what kind of re­sponse you get.

Do­ing ‘ac­tive’ public re­la­tions, even with­out a full strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions plan in place, al­lows you to test and hone your mes­sag­ing in real time, and get feed­back from ex­ist­ing cus­tomers and stake­hold­ers. It in­forms on­go­ing plans and pro­gram­ming.

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