PR is essential to your business’ growth. Whether you’re looking to attract new customers, raise your profile locally or secure investment, communicating with your audiences effectively will transform your business’ reputation. PR is seen as a nice-to-have for big businesses, synonymous with major budgets and huge campaigns and stunts. The reality is, as a business owner, you have it in you to drive your own publicity.
These five simple steps can help raise your business’ profile.
- Make the time
Time is always the first block when it comes to entrepreneurs doing their own PR. This is compounded by the confusion around what PR actually is. It’s not a dark art. PR is simply building relationships with the right media and influencers. It’s the difference between you saying you’re great and someone else saying it. You don’t need a media kit, image library or perfectly crafted press release. Instead, build relationships with the right journalists. This 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 too. The trick is to commit to a regular time in your week to create that positive PR habit.
- Connect PR to your business goals
Make sure your PR objectives tie back to your business goals. PR for PR’s sake will quickly become unsustainable. Ultimately you want to reach your audiences so you need to be in the media they consume. This may change depending on your current business goals. Do you want to boost your business profile to reach more customers or are you looking to recruit more employees? Clarity here helps shape your stories to bring you closer to your business objectives and the media you engage with.
- Know your audience
If you’re strapped for time, create a super-targeted media list with your top journalists. This may just be a handful to start with. 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.
Don’t forget social media. Follow key journalists on Twitter as a starting point. It’s a great way to get to know them, understand their interests and the kind of stories they cover. Journalists often tweet requests for help on pieces too. Look out for hashtags like #journorequest or #bloggers. Building your own Twitter profile makes it easier for journalists to reach you too.
- How can I help you?
Our businesses are our worlds. So we tend to think that something such as winning an industry award or charity event is major news. Yes, it’s great recognition but how many other businesses have the same story? How does your story impact the community? Is it a first? Does it show a wider trend? Journalists need a real story or an angle, so think about your pitch from their viewpoint. It’s about how you can help them serve their audience.
Don’t go in with “I have a great story for you”. Try “How can I help you?” For example, right now, our local online newspaper has a major drive on video content. So offering video friendly stories gives them a stronger chance of being covered.
- 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 even, weekly basis.
You’ll know the seasonal opportunities in your business. Christmas, Easter, summer holidays, back to school. How do these impact your product or service? If you’re a recruitment firm, do you see am influx of CVs after New Year? Do you think this will be higher this year? 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.
Beware the ubiquitous awareness day. Journalists will take them with a pinch of salt. But if you have a genuine link with one, it can help to approach the journalist 2-3 weeks ahead so they can schedule it in as a story. Established platforms such as Global Enterprise Week and Apprenticeship Week still carry weight. Top tip, Small Business Saturday is coming up in December.
Diarise everything you need to do to stay on top of your PR activity.
If your business’ profile is a priority for you, treat PR as you would any other business discipline. PR is the cost-effective, smart way to help grow your business, enhance your credibility and drive your influence. It’s the competitive edge that can make a major difference in your business’ story.
By Antonia Taylor, www.antoniataylorpr.com