According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations (PR) is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” The term “PR” might conjure up visuals of big corporations or famous athletes and actors, but PR doesn’t just benefit the rich and famous. Small-business PR is just as important when it comes to maintaining a positive reputation and raising awareness about your brand. In fact, sometimes PR is more important to unknown small businesses than it is to large, well-known ones. How else will you get the word out about your new company?
Small-business PR can be used to spread the word about your business while giving it some extra clout. Sure, you can spend time and money promoting yourself on social media; however, Forbes explains that it’s even more powerful to have someone other than yourself talk about your business.
Unlike advertising, PR doesn’t necessarily cost you any money — it’s more about the time spent researching and effectively communicating with your audience.
Anyone who wants to grow their company, spread the word about a new product or service, or acquire new followers can benefit from small-business PR. So, where do you begin?
Basic public relations practices
You will experience impactful small-business PR if you start on a small and local level. Does your town have its own newspaper or magazine that is willing to write a story about your business? Contact the publication’s editor via email. Describe your business or newest product, and explain why the publication should write about you.
In an article about how to contact members of the press, Inc. recommends keeping your emails short and framing your business’s story in a way that makes it stand out from the crowd. For example, do you offer a meal delivery service? Talk about how you partner with local farmers and markets to compile meal kits. This local angle will appeal to writers looking to highlight stories that are relevant to the community.
Another resource is Help a Reporter Out (HARO). With HARO, you sign up to receive an email digest of upcoming stories that journalists and bloggers are writing. Often times, writers search for experts to speak on behalf of a particular topic. Stories that don’t directly promote your business can prove to be great opportunities to get your name out there. For example, if you’re a party planner and a magazine reporter sends out a HARO request looking for tips from an expert about setting up for a wedding, contact the writer and offer your input. Your unique viewpoint and insights will be sure to wow readers. The publication will likely quote you or share the name of your business in their story.
Lastly, don’t write off any connections that you make from your networking efforts. Leverage those relationships, especially if you can offer something in return.
Influencers get things done
In addition to newspapers and magazines, blogs are effective ways to jumpstart your PR program. Search the WordPress.com blogging community and other blogging resources for ones in your industry that have sizable and engaged followings. You can usually gauge a blog’s activity by reading its comments section. If there are a significant number of recent comments made by multiple users, then the blog is worth following and engaging with.
If you make organic granola using seasonal ingredients, find blogs that feature posts about healthy and natural living. Begin by commenting on these posts and sharing them on your social media pages. Be sure to tag the blog so that the owner takes note of your interaction. Once you build a rapport, contact the owner with a pitch about why her readers want to hear about your granola. You might have to send her a sample of your granola so that she can confirm how delicious it is — you want her rave reviews to be authentic.
Another way to conduct small-business PR is through Instagram. Similar to the process of reaching out to bloggers, find those in your niche with a sizable and engaged following. You can tell which are the most popular by the number of comments and likes they receive relative to their number of followers. If an Instagram influencer posts a photo featuring your product, you’ll drive a significant amount of attention — and new followers — to your page.
One thing to note is that the top social media influencers — those with especially large followings — may charge to promote your product. If your budget is small, it’s better to reach out to influencers with an engaged but smaller following (and don’t charge a fee for their promotions).
Regardless of how you approach your small-business PR, with some time, networking, and effort, it’s a great way to draw attention to your business and bring in new fans.