Telling the truth about SME life today

Shout about your success for free PR

Spin, PR, hype or just the old concept of the emperor’s new clothes, business positioning is and always has been massively important to a successful enterprise.

From the start of any venture and throughout its existence, maintaining a positive image is all important but it’s also essential to recognise the fragility of such promotion.

Positive image can be destroyed much more easily than it is created. One bad restaurant review or one negative theatre critique can often destroy the enterprise despite the numerous contrary opinions.

Service and product buyers can be fickle and in this economy price is often still a deciding factor when faced with a like for like choice.

When I started my business I was told that I would only ever be as good as my last deal, that advice still resonates today. For me this has meant I am constantly striving for improvements and aware I need to shout about such successes.

The British mentality is one of the most reserved in the world when it comes to shouting about our success; by and large we are naturally self-deprecating. Frankly if this is you, you just need to change your mind set. It’s tough out there and if you are great at something then start to shout about it, it’s not a sin to be successful.

My word of caution is to stay grounded because if you have a fall from favour, be it for a justified reason or not, it’s always a long way to fall.

Positive PR is not hard to garnish. Engage with the local press as they are always desperate for column inches. Social media is free and brilliant when used correctly for spinning out messages but be careful though about over hyping it all up and then not delivering. It is always best to under promise and then get the PR on the over delivery.

The key to promotion is always a hook that looks not like self-promotion but information and education. Make it look less like a direct compliment and more like a bask in reflected glory. It’s worked for me for many years.

I don’t think I have ever paid for any PR and have had 1,000’s of pages of it over the years. Although I would add it’s not free in every sense, you may not need actual cash to secure a good media presence but you do need to devote personal time and energy into the creation of the information.

Jo Haigh is a partner at FDS Corporate Finance and author of ‘The Keys to the Boardroom, How to Get There How to Stay There’, which is released in January. 

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