Public relations isn’t just for large corporations. The emergence of social media and the power of the web means that small businesses can be quite effective at public relations. The secret is to approach it on a scale that you can sustain over time.
You won’t be able to implement the same types of campaigns as large corporations, but you should be able to generate some solid attention and move the needle forward over time.
5 Public Relations Tips for Small Business
- Take a news inventory. Here, you need to think big picture. Examine your business and ask yourself, “What do I have to offer that is newsworthy?” It may be that you have expertise to share and can work with reporters as an expert source. Your business may play a role in the community that is newsworthy. You may be launching interesting new products and services. Think through just how you can be of help to reporters.
- Figure out whom to pitch. Once you know what kind of news you will offer, ask, “Which outlets will be interested in this?” You are going to need to do a little research. If you operate locally and have stories of interest to your community, identify the local media outlets that you think will be interested. If your story is national, figure out which outlets you would like to cover your stories. Make a list. It doesn’t have to be huge. Just accurate.
- Invest in social media. I used the word “invest” for this one, but it needn’t be expensive. First off, start a blog. It’s the single best way to get your stories a home online. When you have something newsworthy to say, do a blog post. From there, you can link your stories to a variety of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Think of social media as the do-it-yourself (DIY) part of public relations.
- Maximize your stories. As a small business, you won’t have stories with the same frequency as larger companies. But you can work to maximize each one you do create. Send out your stories over multiple channels. When you have news, send a press release or pitch to local reporters, do a blog post, share the post on social media, offer a bylined article or op-ed to local publications, and email the news to customers and prospects.
- Be patient and persistent. Public relations is all about building relationships with reporters and news organizations over time. This doesn’t mean reporters are going to become your buddies. But it does mean that as you send them interesting pitches, they’ll get to know your company. And with familiarity comes comfort. And with comfort comes coverage. So stick with it, even if results seem slow in coming.
Small businesses can certainly be effective at PR. As you follow these public relations tips, you’ll begin to figure out which types of stories, outlets and approaches are most effective. Keep notes and focus on those strategies that work for you.