PR can be tricky to get your head around, especially if the assumption is that it’s just for celebrities and big business. The truth is that it can be one of the most effective methods of promotion for small businesses and has the potential to contribute hugely to brand growth and business success! We recently had the wonderful #ialso100 Fiona Minett, founder of Boss Your PR, host an incredible session for us all about why PR needs to be a priority for small business owners – please find her guest blog below!
What does PR mean, though?
PR, Public Relations, is simply about communication. How you communicate with any stakeholders in or around your business including customers, suppliers, stockists, employees, social media followers, peers; communicating with anyone who has any interest or connection to your business is PR.
Much like there are many different stakeholders you will be communicating with, there are many different methods of communication that you can and will be using. You may already be using email marketing. You’re probably on social media and building an audience. You might be networking or blogging. These are all methods of PR communication and promotion.
So, you might already be dabbling in PR through some of these methods. There is plenty more scope beyond this. Let’s pause for a moment though…
What are the benefits of PR for small businesses?
- Clarity of Message
In order to have success with any PR activity, you need clarity in your brand messaging. By focussing on what your core ethos is, you will be able to increase the potency of your PR and promotion efforts to benefit your business. What do you need to be saying to the audience that you will be reaching with your PR activity?
- Audience Reach
While magazine circulations and audiences of various outlets can vary greatly, the long and short of it is that PR can put your brand in front of tens, often hundreds, of thousands of people with just one magazine placement. If you feature on a high traffic website, the number of people your product is seen by can run into 7 figures.
Imagine how much you would have to channel into a marketing budget to put your brand in front of even a fraction of this audience reach?
- Traffic and Sales
Of course, eyes on the coverage doesn’t automatically translate to money in your pocket, unfortunately. However, you can often expect to see surges in web traffic as a result of press coverage that can easily turn into sales. You could also expect to increase your social media following with some coverage.
Online press coverage may even link directly to your website, in which case you will benefit in SEO terms as well as seeing direct traffic arriving to your homepage. For those surges in web traffic, there are ways that you can prepare and maximise the results you see from them. By having your landing page optimised for publication of the coverage, you can quickly direct your visitors to the product or service they will be looking for. Make sure your website is easy to navigate, giving new visitors the optimum experience.
- Brand Credibility
This is one of the most long lasting benefits of PR. Think of it as building an archive that you can refer back to – if you’ve featured in VOGUE, there is mileage to be had in referring to your product or service as having been ‘seen in’ the fashion bible.
When consumers are new to a brand, they look for markers of familiarity and while the financial benefit is hard to measure, there is reassurance to consumers in seeing recognised and trusted media names as having ‘endorsed’ a brand with coverage.
Press coverage confirms your expertise and gives consumers the understanding that you are great at what you do! Not everyone can feature in The Telegraph or Stylist, so it’s easy to be impressed when we come across a brand who is!
Brand credibility extends beyond potential customers or clients – potential collaborators, potential employees, investors, sponsors, stockists, endorsements and speaking opportunities can come from such exposure.
- Cost Effective
Put most simply, it’s FREE! It’s free for you to share your message across social media or as a guest on a podcast. It’s free to speak at events *you might actually get paid to do so*. It’s free to blog and guest blog. When looking at media opportunities across online and offline, editorial content (i.e. the ‘juicy content’ not the adverts) is also ‘free’. While there can be associated costs such as delivery of samples to a magazine for shooting, there needn’t be payments made to secure coverage.
When we start getting into the realms of working with the media and why we might want to hold the ad budget and start exploring editorial opportunities, let’s look at it this way, “Advertising is you saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.”
So, how do you get started?
Build your PR Toolkit: A PR Toolkit is the foundation of PR success. It brings together all the puzzle pieces of your brand and ensures that you are prepared for all aspects of media and visibility activity. As a simple starter for 10, just make sure that you have a clean, easy to navigate website that showcases your offer or expertise clearly. Some great high resolution images of your product, offer or service and of yourself! Finally, ensure that you have some great content in your back pocket, whether about your story, examples of your expertise or details on the USP of your product or offer.
Start some simple research: Ask the questions of your audience on social media – what magazines do they read? What online platforms do they look at? What influencers do they follow? Where do they get their news? What podcasts do they listen to? Start to build a picture of which outlets might speak to your target audience.
Be Consistent: Show up consistently on your website, social media and via networking. You never know who is watching or who might be in the room. Always be switched on for possible PR opportunities.
Access the right resources: There are resources out there that will make doing your own PR an absolute breeze. Some are free, some are paid for but find the right ones for you and make use of them. Here are some options:
- HARO – https://www.helpareporter.com/
- #journorequest – https://twitter.com/hashtag/journorequest?src=hashtag_click&f=live
- The PR Spotlight – https://www.theprspotlight.com/
- Press Plugs – https://pressplugs.co.uk/
- Press Loft – https://www.pressloft.com/
- Response Source – https://www.responsesource.com/
Every step, however small, is forward progress and getting you in front of your audience. Whether you start sharing more of your experience across social media, reach out to possible collaborators that might welcome a guest blog post, approach a podcast and pitch yourself as a guest or just get out networking, just start somewhere.
Fiona Minett, founder of Boss Your PR, is an award winning PR Expert and Educator on a mission to democratise PR for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Having spent over 14 years in PR, including 6 years running a PR agency, Fiona now trains and coaches small businesses in taking a DIY approach to their visibility by making the most of savvy and cost effective PR techniques. She has contributed to and written for the likes of Enterprise Nation, Jewellery Focus Magazine, The Guardian and Health & Wellbeing and spoken at trade shows and venues including BBC Studios, MODA, Top Drawer, Allbright, Oxford Brookes University and Harrogate Home & Gift.