No matter how small your business is, having a sound public relations (PR) strategy is an essential aspect of brand building. Contrary to what most SMEs or micro SMEs believe, PR is not only for large companies. In fact, small businesses that engage in PR see the benefit of getting brand exposure and increased credibility little by little over time.
PR helps to promote your brand communication and goodwill to your customers and stakeholders. For professionals, investing in PR helps to raise your personal expertise and elevate your personal branding, allowing you to reach a wider audience and gain more collaboration opportunities.
Hearing or seeing your brand or expert views on a positive third party platform will likely increase your chances of having more people engage with you because of the trust of an independent party. When people are familiar with you, they can help spread the good work you have done to others.
No need to burn your pocket.I know what you are thinking. PR costs alot of money. I will agree to a certain extend, but investing in PR is essential. You can work with something you can afford or consider other alternatives. For small business owners, consider engaging boutique public relations agencies to work on a campaign that is within your budget. Some agencies can do a one-time adhoc campaign and charges performance-based PR . This means on top of a project management fee, you pay an $X for every outcomes. No need for long retainers. That may work better for you on a tight budget.
Self-promotion. You can also start your own PR effort by engaging with local reporters and helping them out by giving your views as an expert in exchange for free publicity. Empower your staff and get them to be your brand advocate, of course with proper guidelines. Encourage them to share content and knowledge across their social media platforms to raise your brand awareness – all these at no cost.
Expand your wings globally with social media. The other misconception that many small business owners or professionals have is that they need to invest in a press release for every news. Not true. Social media has changed traditional PR as it allows you to share information on these platforms to reach a wider audience. Take advantage of new media opportunities such as podcasts and online web interviews that can make your brand reach a global audience.
Let me highlight several reasons why small businesses do PR.
It raises brand awareness and creates strong relationships with your clients. The first thing to note is that PR is essentially brand building. For a small business or professional, building awareness and developing a strong connection with your clients about your product, service, or expertise is key. Once your audience feels the connection between your brand and their needs, they are more likely to work with you and spread the word. Use social media and convey your messages by tailoring to a specific group of audience. Put up regular, consistent, and relevant content to get people to know what you have to offer.
Helps build credibility. PR helps to raise your credibility as a thought leader or the go-to expert in your industry. You can do this by exposing your expertise and brand through media interviews via expert comments, podcast interviews, social media blogs, articles, engaging in exchange of views and ideas with people that matter or via speaking engagements. If you are starting out, take advantage of social media as an excellent platform to raise your brand visibility.
Free positive publicity. A positive article exposure on any earned media is a definite brand booster and an excellent brand-building tool. While investing in a paid editorial is an excellent alternative to getting exposure, nothing beats free publicity by a credible media agency or journalist in the local print, international trade or broadcast news. In fact, with the increasing hype in podcast interviews, exposure through these shows is also a good PR building engine. Besides these, word of mouth recommendations by your clients and influencers’ comments can also help boost your brand visibility.
Compliment marketing efforts. PR and marketing efforts should work like a hand in glove. You need to understand that while marketing is a tool to promote goods and services to get sales, PR promotes your brand goodwill and communications between your company and your customers. PR should be seen as a component of your marketing strategy and acts as a complimentary activity to marketing instead of as a solo activity.
Less expensive than advertising. Advertising is a good way to impress your customers directly with your product offering. If you have a reasonable budget, advertising is a good way to promote sales. However, getting a positive story out in the media can cost you almost zero dollars or much less than placing an advertisement. If you have a unique story to tell, journalists will want to tell your story for free. A good media placement in a magazine or local media is a good form of PR as it can bring you more value in the long term.
Client value add. When you share your client’s feedback and success stories while doing business with you, you are also putting them in the spotlight and helping raise their brand awareness at the same time. It is an effective way to add value to your client’s business and garner more potential leads for you. A win-win situation!
Reputation management. PR can help you prepare for a crisis by reacting to them quickly, with the right messages. You can help prep senior management or spokesperson on the right messages to counter the issues and monitor for sentiments in the media. These PR activities can help you manage and mitigate the situation and save your business in times of crisis.
One thing to note is that public relations is a long haul process. Just like Rome is not built in a day, developing good PR for your brand will take time. Do not confuse PR with marketing and expect your PR team or agency to give you immediate ROIs. Do take time to understand the function of PR so that your expectations are measured.