Let’s just get this out of the way: Small Businesses CAN get media attention. Furthermore, the media cares about small businesses.
Once you’ve spent the time building your business and streamlining your messaging, you’re now a pro at sharing your story. You could probably share it in your sleep. So, how do you navigate the media to share that story more broadly?
Recently, we joined forces with Allison Bowers, Roxanne Ricketts, and Valerie Sharp to provide our community with a panel discussion that provided the basics for navigating the media as a small business owner. Here are some of the highlights.
What does PR mean in 2019 going into 2020?
Public Relations, or “PR”, is ever-evolving. It’s one piece of a complete marketing plan for your business. If you’ve ever wondered what “earned media” is or how businesses get it, PR is the answer. Today, working on a PR strategy can include everything from traditional media like radio, print, or TV to new media channels like influencers, speaking opportunities, and podcasts.
What’s the first step for small business owners to take when creating a PR plan?
Understanding your overall business goals is where any good PR plan starts, it’s the backbone. Small business goals could range from expansion to general brand awareness and everything in between. For instance, a small business with a national e-commerce site could be focused on generating traffic to their website while a brick and mortar boutique could want to become THE go-to shop for all things beauty and wants to increase the awareness of the local community. Each of these goals will navigate the media using different tactics to achieve their goal.
Should small businesses always invest in PR?
Before a small business should invest in hiring a PR expert, it is important to ensure they are positioned to handle the result of any PR campaign. For instance, if an e-commerce site is trying to reach its goal of doubling website traffic, the site must be able to handle the increased traffic without crashing. Once the small business is able to handle the results of a successful campaign, then the next step is to consider what budget is available to determine if a professional can be hired or whether a DIY solution is necessary. Lastly, take the time to interview several PR experts to find one that is in your niche market. Part of what you’re investing in is their relationships with the media, so they should be in your market and understand your company and your goals. That expert may or may not be local, take the time to find the best fit.
How are businesses incorporating events into their media strategies?
Events marketing can be an incredible tactic to use in a PR strategy. Businesses of all sizes can use them for product launches, celebrations, expansions, and grand openings. The list is endless. More and more companies are focusing on making these events true experiences for attendees, making sure there are activities or tactile stations where attendees can interact with the brand and leave wanting to tell everyone they know about it.
What are some budget-friendly tips you have for small business owners that aren’t able to hire a PR expert yet?
This one can be fun. Research the media outlets that you feel would be great to be featured in/on. Then keep researching to find the reporter, editor, or journalist who specializes in stories like yours. Reach out to them directly with an email, a note, or a call to introduce yourself and your brand. Don’t send a carbon copy email or simply attach a press release. Make it personal. Add a message that speaks to your audience. Maybe you both attended the same college, or maybe you read an article of theirs that spoke to you. Share those bits with them and you’ll probably be surprised by their reply.
Are there any resources that you’d recommend a small business invest in or completely avoid?
It’s tempting to find a media list online and think it’s going to be all you need. Those lists are often inaccurate in any number of ways and are likely a waste of your money and time.
These tips are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of a robust PR strategy, but it’s a start. It’s important to remember that earned media is one piece of a complete marketing strategy, just as social media and advertising are. They work best when executed together to propel your brand forward.