There’s a perception that PR is a luxury for businesses with major budgets. Here’s the thing – all small business owners and entrepreneurs have it in them to generate their own publicity and raise their business profile.
Here’s five simple steps to help build a workable PR campaign.
(1) Stop making excuses
Time is the first excuse entrepreneurs make about doing their own PR. Business owners see PR as a dark art that’s far more complex and scarier than it is; PR is simply building relationships with the right media and influencers. You don’t need a whole media kit, image library or a perfectly crafted press release to approach a journalist. It can be as simple as writing a two paragraph email outlining your story or picking up the phone to chat your idea through.
As business owners, time is our most valued asset. Yes, you’re running a business, handling clients, managing a team, no doubt looking after finance too. PR is a discipline. The trick is to commit to a regular time in your week to create a positive PR habit.
(2) Build a PR plan
Make sure your PR objectives tie back to your business goals. PR for PR’s sake will quickly become unsustainable. Do you want to boost your business profile to reach more customers or are you looking to attract more employees? Being clear about this will help shape the stories you can communicate and building them into a strategic plan will bring you closer to your business objectives.
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(3) Know who you need to reach
If you’re strapped for time, create a super-targeted media list with your top journalists. Find which local newspapers, radio shows, blogs or trade media fit your stories. Research titles to identify your contacts. If you’re looking to run a news story find the local news editor or, if you want to suggest a more in-depth article responding to an industry trend, the features editor is your person.
Social media has transformed the media landscape and journalists have become so much more accessible. Take Twitter – it’s a great way for getting know media contacts and building relationships as well as researching what kind of stories they’re more likely to cover. Journalists will often tweet requests for help on stories via hashtags like #journorequest or #bloggers. Building your own Twitter presence also means journalists can reach you easily.
(4) How can I help you?
Thinking great story ideas through is where you can make a real difference. What you might consider to be news – winning an award or a team member getting a qualification – probably won’t set a journalist’s world on fire. Ultimately journalists need a real story or an angle, so think about your pitch from their viewpoint and how you can help them serve their audience. This is a key mind-set switch; you need to move from “I have a great story for you” to “How can I help you?”. For example, right now, I know our local online newspaper has a major drive for video content so focusing on delivering stories that are video friendly really works.
(5) Build an editorial calendar
PR is about timing. A great way to stay on track is to map out an editorial calendar or media schedule on a monthly or better yet, weekly basis.
Look at seasonal opportunities – Christmas, Easter, summer holidays, back to school and map out how your product or service ties into these. What’s going on in your industry? Dates like the Budget, new legislation or regular research coming out can help you anticipate great reasons to approach your media with insights, comments and tips.
Awareness days are ubiquitous these days and as such, journalists take them with a pinch of salt. Established platforms such as Global Enterprise Week, National Work from Home Day and Small Business Saturday still have impact. Diarise everything you need to do to stay on top of your PR activity.
If PR is a priority for you, treat it as you would any other business priority. It’s about relationships and these take time to build. PR will help grow your business, enhance your credibility and drive your influence, making you that go-to person or commentator. Why wouldn’t you make the time for that?
Antonia Taylor is director at Antonia Taylor PR.
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