Small Business

How To Do Your Own PR

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 10 minute read

I’ve learned from my personal experience as a small business owner that the best investment you can make is in your employees. Since I only have 14 workers, everyone’s contribution is critical, and most people wear many hats. My chief designer also handles customer contacts, while my office manager performs graphic design on the side.

Small business owners seldom have the luxury of assigning each employee to a single function, and instead must perform a variety of jobs in-house that would be contracted out by bigger corporations.

One of such duties is public relations, or PR. When it comes to public relations, it can be prohibitively expensive for start-ups or small businesses to hire a firm or professional to handle tasks like social media management, press release writing, and brand cultivation. In addition, a local business does not require the same level of PR support as a global conglomerate. For this reason, public relations at a small firm usually falls to the current staff.

Most entrepreneurs in a small firm have to wear several hats and are accustomed to learning quickly, but public relations is more complex than other tasks like managing payroll or making recruiting choices. Since this position involves influencing public opinion, your PR plan should consist of more than just tweeting and posting on Facebook. Genuine public relations, on the other hand, tells a story about your company and inspires confidence in the minds of potential buyers.

Tips for Small-Business Public Relations

If you hire a public relations firm, they will most likely provide you with a comprehensive PR plan that includes everything from social media posts to press releases and email blasts. 

Public relations agencies are experts at spreading the word about your business. Internal public relations, however, benefits from a more straightforward strategy.

When it comes to public relations, whether you’re doing it yourself or asking your staff for help, you can find yourself in a new area. Instead of being overwhelmed by all the options, zero down on a handful that you and your team are confident executing.

Your role as a business owner is not to become a public relations specialist, but rather to create a story about your product or service. As you develop your PR plan, you’ll find that some forms of content and distribution channels are a perfect fit for certain messages. 

Overnight success is thrilling, but the keys to a healthy and effective public relations plan for a small business are slowly but surely creating connections, trust, and awareness. Pick and choose from the following do-it-yourself public relations strategies for promoting and establishing your brand.

  1. Send in a Press Release

Press releases are brief news documents that provide journalists with the data they need to write about your company. When anything significant has happened at your company, whether it’s the introduction of a new product or service, the receipt of an award, the opening of a new site, or even a reorganization, you should issue a press release.

Your press release should be succinct and to the point, but it should also have a broad appeal to increase its chances of being covered. Think about your target audience and what they need to know before you start drafting your press release. Your content should inform the reader, who is likely a journalist, blogger, or editor, and entice them to visit your website or social media accounts for more.

Distribute press releases to your email list, pitch them directly to bloggers and media outlets, or submit them through a service like Online PR Media.

  1. Build an Email Contact List

The PR firm’s email contact list is a major perk of outsourcing your PR. Professional public relations firms typically have extensive email contact lists tailored to their sector and media outlets, allowing them to strategically distribute your material to the most relevant audiences. 

If you want to do your own public relations, you’ll need to build your own email list to stay in touch with your followers and make the most of your previous contacts with customers.

To build a client database, request that site visitors provide their email addresses. Put those email addresses to use by sending out newsletters, updates, or helpful hints. By providing timely, relevant material via email newsletters, you may influence public opinion for the better.

In creating content for your email list, the 80/20 rule is useful to keep in mind: Provide 80% helpful content, value, or fun, and 20% promotional content for your company. Emails that followers deem useful are more likely to be opened. If you use your contact list for nothing except pushing products, the value your subscribers receive will quickly diminish. Maintain trust by not wasting users’ time or flooding their inboxes.

  1. Make an offer to write guest posts.

Blogs, websites, and podcasts devoted to an industry all play an important role in attracting new readers and shaping consumer decisions. Finding blogs and influencers in your business that post about it and offering to write a guest post or appear as a guest on a podcast is one approach to get your content in front of an audience.

Digital content you produce for free will help spread the word about your brand, and the blog’s owner will appreciate the fresh material. A guest post is a great method to increase your visibility and network within your field, provided you approach it properly. To effectively propose a guest article, consider the following:

  • Examine Websites and Blogs in Your Field. Simple online searches are the greatest approach to find blogs and sites to guest post on. Put the phrases “blog” or “guest post” before the keywords that people would use to discover your small company online. This will direct you to sites that are frequented by your target audience, and it will help you track down bloggers who have already benefited from guest blogging.
  • Acquaint Yourself with the Site. Pick a few interesting blogs with potential and conduct some research on them. Inquire about the site’s popularity, number of followers, and overall tone on popular social media. Choose a subset of blogs where your voice and values will be heard rather than trying to fit in everything.
  • Introduce yourself by email. It’s a good idea to follow the blog or company on social media and introduce yourself through email before pitching an idea for a guest post. This includes both professional and more informal platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook or Instagram. Express your appreciation for the blogger’s or website’s work by giving them a particular complement that demonstrates your familiarity with their published or viewed material.
  • Provide Something of Value to Your Audience. Provide the website owner with a few options for pitches when you’re ready to present. Never promote your small business without first providing value to your customers. Brand recognition will come naturally if you present yourself as an authority on a subject you understand well.
  • Please forward this site to your friends. If your guest post is published, be sure to promote it on your own website, social media accounts, and email list. The blog’s creator will be grateful for the extra content marketing and the spike in traffic that results when your audience joins forces with that of the blog’s. Connecting with others and sharing their products or services is an integral part of social media marketing.
  1. Encourage Positive Feedback

The majority of Americans (72%) rely on personal networks for news and information, as reported by the Pew Research Center. In terms of public relations tactics, online evaluations are among the most analogous to traditional word-of-mouth advertising.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents in a 2020 study by TrustPilot, a website that compiles reviews from around the web, said they read reviews before making a purchase based on their recommendations.

Credibility in the eyes of potential new clients may be built through positive online reviews. While glowing recommendations from satisfied clients are ideal, getting any feedback at all may be challenging for small businesses. Sending a follow-up email to buyers after they’ve made a purchase is a great way to encourage feedback.

You may try providing a discount voucher as a reward for reviews. Then you can use those great client experiences to boost your public relations by posting reviews on social media or highlighting them on your website.

  1. Respond to Negative Reviews

A bad review is something that happens to nearly every small business at some point. Reputation may take a serious hit from any negative feedback, no matter how justified it was. Professionals in public relations are trained to respond swiftly and effectively in a crisis, but as a small company owner, your greatest asset is the personal relationships you’ve built.

Customers that leave unfavorable feedback or remarks on social media should not be ignored. Take them on by contacting the individual and attempting to discover a solution that will sway their viewpoint. Fix the problem and ask the person to revise their rating if you can.

If everything else fails and a customer remains dissatisfied, a nice and reassuring response to their review might help salvage your company’s image.

  1. Tell a Story

Every winning PR effort has a backstory. Tell me about the best ad you’ve seen recently. You probably enjoyed it because it evoked some sort of emotional response in you. All PR initiatives have a narrative at their core, whether it’s funny, heartfelt, or mundane.

Sharing the origins of your company’s name helps you connect with the people who could eventually become customers. To build trust and loyalty with your audience, make narrative an integral aspect of your content marketing approach.

Indecisive as to what exactly it is you want to tell? Attempt this drill: Consider three possible buyers and sketch up a rough profile for each. The age range, gender, family makeup, annual income, and even hobbies of these made-up audiences are all specified.

You can use your “customer profile” to guide the storyline of any PR content you produce, whether it’s a press release, a blog post, or a how-to video. Your tale may focus on how to streamline a hectic schedule or make time for self-care if one of your client profiles is a parent in her 30s or 40s.

  1. Event Sponsorship

Sponsoring a community event is a great way to give back to the people who have helped your business succeed. When you provide money to a local event as a sponsor, you not only show your support for the event, but you also get free publicity.

Sponsoring an event in your sector is a great way to promote your business. You may boost visibility and goodwill by meeting with your target audience in person. You may want to think about sponsoring events like these.

  • Marathons. Sponsoring marathons and fun races can help your small company connect with people who are interested in improving their health. Include your product in a goodie bag, hand out freebies, or sponsor a mile and provide refreshments.
  • Conferences for the Business Sector. Ask the conference organizers if you may sponsor a table, event, or mixer if you plan on attending. Your company’s credibility will increase as you gain the much-needed exposure in your field.
  • Helping those in need. Many institutions serving the public, from medical centers to religious institutions to public schools, rely on funds raised via charitable activities to fund their operations. It’s possible that with some help from you, your local business may be recognized as a generous contributor to the area.
  • Games and Competitions in the Sporting World. Sporting activities unite a community via the spirit of competition and cooperation. It is common practice for cities to provide funding for uniforms and equipment for local companies to sponsor sports teams and tournaments.
  • Updated Neighborhood Facilities. Is there a dire need for a dog park or a picnic shelter in your town? Investing time, energy, and money into the cause will allow you to take part in creating a long-lasting, high-quality facility.

Asking your local government agency is the first step in learning about sponsorship opportunities in your region. You can stay in the know by following local social media and you can promote your own events by sharing them on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

  1. Monitor Google Alerts

Maintaining awareness of relevant developments is essential to effective public relations. Using Google Alerts, you may be notified whenever there is new content online mentioning a certain term or phrase.

Create monitoring alerts for your company’s name to be informed the moment a new review is published. You may also use Google Alerts to keep tabs on the competition or track any mentions of a certain product or service.

Writing articles that are relevant and topical by tapping into what your audience and industry are already talking about is made possible by this method. In conjunction with solid SEO, Google Alerts lets you fine-tune your messaging to attract more visitors to your site while shielding your reputation from unfavorable press.

  1. Take Your Time

You’ve definitely heard of viral marketing’s ability to catapult a tiny firm to fame and money seemingly overnight. It’s a common misconception that quick success in public relations is possible for tiny businesses.

If you hire a public relations agency, they may devise an elaborate marketing strategy designed to catapult your business into the national limelight. If you’re doing your own PR, though, it’s best to take things slowly and steadily.

Although the old adage goes, “All PR is good PR,” the opposite is true for small businesses: a negative image may be devastating. When it comes to public relations, connection building is more important than content production and distribution.

Whether you do it by direct communication with influencers, community service, or by establishing yourself as an industry authority, you will build and sustain a reputation that attracts and retains clients.

Bottom Line

You shouldn’t be disheartened if employing a PR agency is outside of your budget; while it’s a lovely amenity to have, it isn’t always necessary. When rapid expansion of a small firm leads to encounters that are less than pleasant, it can be detrimental to the company’s public image to try to repair the damage as soon as possible.

As you work to grow your small business’s credibility and customer loyalty, you and your staff are invaluable assets. Create your brand’s narrative and aggressively seek out opportunities to get your brand in front of the individuals who need it the most so that your marketing efforts pay off.

DIY public relations may be just as successful as hiring an agency, saving you money on the retainer while allowing you to focus on building strong relationships in your community and communicating with your consumers.

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