Running a small business is no easy task.
You’ve got limited time, budget, and resources to get stuff done to grow your business.
*This is part of an ongoing PR-focused series, brought to you by our friends at Mynewsdesk, the leading PR management solution in the Nordics.
However, you need to put yourself out there as much as possible to have steady incoming revenue. So, where do you even start?
One way of making the best use of your resources and generating new business is by doing great PR.
According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” That’s a pretty broad and somewhat complex definition.
In simpler terms, PR is essentially about earning people’s attention and trust and gaining free publicity as a result of that.
Some of us tend to think that PR is only for large, multinational brands that have huge marketing budgets. It would make sense, since doing PR seems like a full-time job that requires the type of resources that SMBs just don’t have.
On the contrary, PR is even more essential for small businesses to grow. What’s more, there are excellent, affordable tools and resources now to help SMBs manage PR – making it more accessible to them.
In this blog post, I’ll share the six key benefits a small business will gain from doing PR.
1. It stretches your budget
For small business owners, every dollar has to go a long way. Getting journalists and influencers to write about your business won’t cost you a lot of money but more in time.
By doing PR, you’re continually working on building trust and credibility for your brand without spending too many marketing dollars.
Even better, word-of-mouth recommendations and organic buzz influences more potential customers to visit and talk about your business. By getting others to consistently bring up your name in a positive context – be it influencers, journalists, happy customers, and even employees – will undoubtedly make your business grow in the long run.
2. It’s more effective than advertising
Earned publicity – be it word-of-mouth, customer testimonials or editorial media coverage – merely is more trusted than advertising.
According to a Nielsen study, PR is 90% more effective than advertising in influencing consumers. That being said getting a favorable mention of your brand, which is earned and not paid, holds much more weight than an ad.
Who are you more likely to believe, a salesman or a person just like you who bought a product?
Because of social media, we’re exposed to so much marketing and advertising content. People don’t trust brands as much anymore which is why influencer marketing and PR content provides an authentic touch to your business.
3. PR loves marketing
In your mix of activities, public relations is another crucial way to reach your audience, build awareness and create a positive business image.
Instead of it competing with your marketing efforts, PR can supplement and support your other initiatives in a way advertising can’t.
Use PR to provide and deliver real value to your audience – be it by sharing something useful, educational or inspiring – and you’ll win people’s attention. It may sound hard, but all it takes a good plan and hard work.
When getting developing a PR campaign, try to know and empathize as much as possible with your audience and provide something they would consider valuable.
4. Good PR strategies prevent problems
For small businesses that rely heavily on word-of-mouth, upset customers can spread bad publicity and put a dent in your brand credibility.
That’s not all, employee-related scandals, defective products, and potential lawsuits can be mitigated if dealt with quickly and in the right way.
A key part of PR is to stay on top of what’s being said about your business and making sure that information that’s being spread is accurate. If it isn’t, your PR plan should include a section on how to manage and rectify misinformation.
If you’re not monitoring your business and keep yourself in the dark, you’re leaving a lot at risk. Remember, one negative comment can escalate and ruin your brand while building real trust and credibility takes years – so don’t take the risk.
5. PR boosts brand visibility
Unlike traditional media, online media doesn’t have a shelf life. News articles remain visible on search engines indefinitely. This means any PR content you create can gain more value as it lives on.
Moreover, other news outlets, bloggers and even customers may link and share the media coverage. By sharing timely and relevant stories across earned, owned and shared channels you will keep your business high up in search engine rankings, which will, in turn, bring more customers knocking on your door.
6. Creates long-lasting relationships
As PR is about building trust and delivering value, you’ll establish lasting relationships and generate goodwill.
Building and maintaining relations might seem like a time-consuming endeavor, but if you work with it systematically, you’ll create a daily or weekly routine that is easy to keep.
Commit each week 30-60 minutes to do PR, and you’ll see the returns regarding new customers and more people talking about your business.
Also the best thing of all, you’ll get all that positive publicity for free.
PR versus advertising: which is for you?
If you’re still not convinced about all of the benefits doing PR would have on your small business, read on.
According to PR professional Robert Wynne, “With advertising, you tell people how great you are. With publicity, others sing your praises. Which do you think is more effective?”
Here’s a summary of the differences between PR and advertising Wynne has identified:
|Builds exposure||Builds trust|
|Audience is skeptical||Media gives third-party validation|
|More expensive||Less expensive|
|‘Buy this product.’||‘This is important.’|
You can see where I’m going with this.
A one-time print advert in a national newspaper can cost around $ 37,800. A news article mentioning your brand, however, is not only free but also builds more trust and credibility and has an indefinite shelf life.
If you’re a small business owner, PR will offer you more bang for your buck. As Claire Daniel writers in Adweek, “PR trumps advertising in credibility, price, quality, effectiveness, and usefulness.”
Small businesses don’t have the financial resources that big companies have, nor do they have the same advertising budgets. Therefore, doing PR yourself allows you to gain exposure little by little, without pouring in as much as a large company would have to.
How do I get started in doing PR?
Now that you’ve had an overview of all of the benefits of doing PR, you can’t wait to start!
Before you do, I’m going to take you through four steps of a PR activity you need to do on a regular basis, dubbed as the PR workflow.
First, you need to monitor your industry and your brand. By doing that you will get a whole lot of insights on what you should and shouldn’t do and how to position your brand within the marketplace.
Second, you need to know how to identify and engage with your audience. If you don’t work hard in this area, all your communications will be done in vain.
Third, you need to create and distribute stories. To do this well, you need to understand what makes a good story and why anyone should care.
Fourth, you need to measure what you are doing to ensure you are making the right impact. Without having a data-driven approach, making and tracking progress will be hard.
So in summary, the PR workflow covers these four steps:
- Monitor your industry
- Create and distribute stories
- Identify and engage your audience
- Measure your reach
The key to good PR is keeping your brand top of mind. So this means that you’ll want to consistently be doing these four steps to keep a steady flow of your brand’s content in your audience’s view.
Learn more about PR
As I mentioned, PR is a very broad concept that includes a lot of different parts. You certainly aren’t expected to learn everything in one blog post!
A great place to learn more about PR and the different areas of activity within is Mynewsdesk’s Digital PR academy.
The Academy covers a range of topics from Storytelling, Influencer Relations, Distribution, Measurement, Visual Communications, Media Relations, and SEO.
Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments. Also, stay tuned to our next edition in this PR series!