Although PR is generally viewed as being something used by large businesses, in reality it is something that’s equally as accessible to small businesses and sole traders. A well thought out PR strategy can be a powerful communications tool which helps SMEs stand out from the crowd, and with many different media channels available to engage with others, in 2021 it’s easier than ever to generate PR for your business.
How does PR work?
The purpose of a Public Relations strategyis to build visibility and awareness of your business, but ultimately, as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations states in its definition of PR, it is ‘the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you’.
Without getting overly technical, PR holds a unique place in the marketing mix. A key part of PR activity concerns itself with shaping and influencing the news agenda, but unlike other forms of marketing activity, PR can also play a vital part in the way your business reacts to potentially damaging scenarios.
Every business has a reputation. However, PR helps to amplify the way your business communicates with potential customers, suppliers and even prospective members of staff, all of which contributes towards building both visibility and goodwill associated with the business.
According to Matt From CannonPR “A great PR strategy will help establish and improve the image of your brand in the market.” This means better positive visibility, which is often associated with more paying customers and accelerated sales.
Is stellar PR the only thing you need to become a well-known brand?
Although a great PR strategy can skyrocket your business, it doesn’t always happen like that. Here’s why:
PR stories are built around developing creative, credible content that resonates with others. However, the first thing to understand about using public relations effectively in your business is being clear about what you are wanting to achieve. A common mistake some people make when using PR is to write an eye-catching press release, but forget the reasons why.
Examples of how Public Relations can be used effectively in businesses may mean creating greater brand recognition, building a better understanding of the services your company delivers, or becoming closely associated with a particular subject or issue. Those things take time.
Gimmicks, or publicity stunts, can be an effective way of pricking up the ears of journalists and influencers alike but this will only get you so far. It’s vital to think both strategically and long term.
Effective public relations strategies are all about building momentum. This is done, not by simply churning out press release after press release and sending to every known journalist on the planet, but by creating meaningful connections to those you are wishing to engage with.
That’s why SMEs, with more limited resources than their blue-chip counterparts often employ PR consultancies, helping them to tap into their wealth of knowledge and expertise to distinguish themselves from the competition.
Think about who you want to target and why. Used effectively, it can not only help your business to stand out from the competition for the right reasons, at the right time, but can build goodwill and trust in your brand.
How and why small businessesgenerate PR
If you have made the decision to consider PR for the next couple of months for your business, there are a number of things you should consider:
1. Media relations
Storytelling is a very important element of Public Relations works. Most businesses have great news to tell; however, the challenge facing many is how to communicate that message effectively. New appointments, new business wins, innovation and comment are all staple stories of the business pages. However, when it comes to the news pages, it’s all about people. A carefully crafted press release, especially when accompanied with eye-catching photography and even video can all help to make your story resonate with journalists and helps them to write about your business.
2. Social Media
Social media marketing should always be a consideration when harnessing a PR strategy, but it shouldn’t just be used in isolation, or used to push products and services on your audiences. It’s about building relationships and trust with your audience. Share hints and tips, celebrate your success and use it as an opportunity for your customers to get to know the people behind the business. Post regularly, but always make sure your content is relevant to your target audiences.
Working with influencers, whether that’s individuals with a large social media following, trusted individuals working within your industry field, or even celebrities can be an effective technique for amplifying information about your products or services, but the same rules apply. How will it benefit your business? What do you aim to achieve from the relationship? Is it likely to help you build and grow your own audience? It’s worth remembering this usually comes with a price tag. However, influencers can also be found in other walks of life, for example, MPs, councilors civic and community leaders etc.