Updated: Nov 24
Public Relations is that tool in a marketing arsenal which helps to build trust, credibility as well as positive reputation. Usually, smaller businesses do not have the budget to spend on advertising and this is where PR can come to their aid. Playing the communication cards right and using PR effectively can not only increase brand visibility but also build a positive image which will eventually translate into sales in the long run.
But, before you as an SME starts to employ any PR tactics, some questions need clear answers such as the target audience, and how one wants to position itself in the market.
To increase your brand visibility, you will need to reach out to the masses. To do so requires building and maintaining relationships with the journalists who can amplify your message. The first step of building media relationships starts with connecting and expanding your contacts. Keep abreast of the reporters who write about your industry and the journalists who focus on your topics of interest, so that when you reach out to them, you have enough knowledge to pitch them the right way. Rather than just reaching out for a feature, strive to build long- term connection. Networking shouldn’t be limited to the media, therefore connect with bloggers and influencers too. To engage with them, leave a positive comment on their posts and mention them on your own. This way, you’ll stay on top of their minds and when you email them a pitch, they will be more likely to open and acknowledge it.
As an SME striving to reach its audience through media, you need to provide value to the journalists, only then will they be willing to run your story. The most powerful story you have at hand is your own. How you came to be, how your values and beliefs drive you and how it reflects in the way you do your business. To avoid making it too focused on yourself, talk about the ways in which your work is impacting the community in positive ways. Think of various ways in which you can put a spin on how different you are from others in the business. Be creative and construct a compelling pitch with a personal touch. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches each day and to break the clutter, have an attention-grabbing subject line and keep your content interesting. According to Content Marketing Institute, 70 per cent of the consumers prefer knowing the company through articles than advertisements and getting your story out in the world through media channels will get the their attention.
Getting its voice out is extremely important for any business. Rather than going for the big guns in the media world, target smaller, niche publications which will be more open to your opinion pieces, guest articles etc. Contributing to a regular column in such publications can act as a springboard to bigger publications with a wider reach. Seeing your feature regularly may attract the mainstream media and they may contact you for guest posts or even interviews. Make use of your blog and other platforms that offer publishing option like LinkedIn and Medium and build a solid community of other contributors who wait for your expert take on industry topics. You can also reach your target audience through industry blogs that allow free contributions and if you provide quality content, it’s a win-win situation for all. All of these efforts will help you become an authority on your industry and people will look up to you for industry-related insights.
As you start making a name for yourself, you might come across opportunities that let you take center-stage and having relevant knowledge during such times helps you to rise to the occasion as well cements your reputation as a credible industry player. Your solid image may attract sponsors, collaborators and investors, all of which can help in the growth of your company. Staying informed is not only important to improve your business but also to help you in your PR efforts. Whether it’s your industry or your competitors, being in the know of what is happening around can give you an idea of where you should be focusing your energies on. There are a few ways to do it. Simple tools like Google Alerts and Twitter Mentions allow you to stay on top of trends and breaking news. Subscribe to relevant newsletters, follow industry leaders and influencers etc. to remain updated.
PR gives you great returns with lesser monetary investment. All you need to do is spend time on your PR activities, which will also help you improve other aspects of your business. So, there’s no loss that you incur. As a small or medium-sized business, PR can be a great way to boost your existing marketing strategies or even as a standalone way to expand your business through growth opportunities.