Having a good PR strategy is a sure-fire way to boost your sales, reach more customers, and improve your brand’s reputation locally and nationally.
While as a small business owner, you likely don’t have an in-house PR team ready to go, by following the tips below you can rest assured that the time you are investing into your PR strategy is well spent.
Why is PR important for small businesses?
First off, you may be wondering what exactly PR, or Public Relations, can do for your business. PR works to both improve and protect your brand’s reputation. Having a good public image can help to protect your business in a crisis, whether that’s one that comes from within your company or a bigger one like the pandemic.
There are several ways you can improve your brand awareness, and mapping these out into an ongoing strategy will increase your chances of seeing results. The two most important aspects of digital PR that we will focus on here are working with media outlets and improving your social media presence.
Find your business’ story
Before you can pitch to journalists and media outlets, you need to know exactly what your business’ story is, and make sure that it’s ‘newsworthy’. Journalists can receive dozens of pitches a week, so it’s important to make sure that yours stands out as being exactly what they’re looking for.
Knowing your story and your target audience will help you to narrow down which media outlets you should be targeting. It’s much more effective to spend some time researching publications that your business’s story will fit, rather than sending off media releases (sometimes known as press releases) left, right, and centre.
Think about key moments in your business’ history. Perhaps you won an award, were the first to do something, or have achieved something amazing for a customer or client. Just make sure you don’t cram too much into your pitch. Aim for three key messages, and make sure you have some good quotes to go alongside them.
Can’t find a story? Make one
If you’re struggling to find a story, make your own news. Making a genuine and positive impact in your local community is a great way to improve your local reputation and do good through your business. You could work with a local charity to organise a fundraising event, or raise awareness for a good cause another way.
Timing is key – coordinating this around a good cause awareness days can help make your story more relevant and timely for media outlets. You may want to make a note of all of the annual awareness days that are relevant to your business, and share this in a calendar with your team.
Build media connections
As we’ve said previously, media releases that are sent out generally don’t normally get read. It’s important to research and identify journalists who will be interested in your story. A personalised approach is always more effective, so once you’ve built up your media list, ensure you’re personalising each email to show you’ve really thought about what they’re looking for.
Twitter is a great platform for building relationships with journalists. You may want to check in on the hashtag #journorequest every now and then, as journalists use this to find industry experts. Keeping friendly with journalists can help you to get PR coverage even when your business has no news to share. This is easier said than done and is something that’s a lot easier for a PR agency to manage.
Get pitch perfect
Landing a successful pitch will depend on whether your story fits the media outlet’s content plan, and whether it’s timely and relevant. There’s also certainly an element of luck to it too. Getting your pitch right will increase your chances of being featured, whether that’s as part of a bigger story or in a more exclusive feature.
If you’ve done your research already, you should know about any pitching guidelines an outlet has, and what sort of content they’re looking for. These are the two most important things you should be considering.
Beyond that, ensure you keep it short and sweet. If the media outlet wants more information, they can ask for it. Start with a brief introduction, and then get straight to your point – no beating around the bush. Make it clear what you are looking for, whether that’s a product review, interview, or another feature.
Demonstrate what your value is to the media outlet in question; what is your unique selling point, and why should they be interested in it? Finally, ensure you thank the person reading for their time and consideration.
Even if you are yet to secure media coverage, social media is a free and invaluable way to improve your brand’s digital PR. Staying chatty and communicating with your existing customers is a great way to boost your reputation. Being reactive is key – replying to comments and messages is something that many large companies employ people to do, which just goes to show how important it is. It’s an invaluable opportunity to speak one-on-one with customers.
If you’re looking to improve your online presence and aren’t sure where to start, you might want to check out our tips for getting started on Instagram, and check out our other social media tips over on our blog.
Working with influencers
Influencer marketing can be a great addition to your digital PR strategy. Influencers can be considered trustworthy sources of information, with 82% of consumers saying that they are very likely to follow up a recommendation from an influencer that they’re following.
It’s worth remembering that there are all sorts of influencers out there, from travel, to sustainability, to food. Finding the right influencers to worth with your brand can be tricky, but when done right, it can really pay off. This is where working with a PR agency might be helpful, as they can invest time into researching a figure that will suit your brand down to the ground.
It’s important to ask influencers about their track record with brand deals. Ask to see their conversion rates, ie. how previous brand deals have helped businesses they’ve worked with to secure sales. They should also provide a breakdown of their followers, and insights into how their posts usually perform. The influencer should show passion in your brand, and be keen to demonstrate how they can be valuable to you.
Think outside of the box
There are so many ways that you can work on your company’s PR. You could share your business’s thought leadership by interacting with professionals through LinkedIn groups, or by hosting training sessions or seeking public speaking opportunities.
The little things really do mean a lot. Your face-to-face customer interactions, and how you engage with key stakeholders, are often underestimated in PR strategies.
Need more help with your PR strategy?
Are you unsure where to begin, or do you need help with a specific part of your PR strategy? We offer award-winning PR services and have secured coverage for our clients both nationally and internationally. Get in touch with us to see what we can do for your business.
Alternatively, we are launching a How to Write a Media Release e-learning course very soon. Sign up to our mailing list to be the first to know when the course goes live.