is the true purpose
of public relations and how can it really help impact the growth of your
small business? In order for the media to succeed, they need information
that is both useful and entertaining for their readers. This is where you,
the business owner or marketing executive, come in.
When thinking of public
relations, many things may come to mind, like: Sweaty palms as you pick up
the phone to try and convince a reporter how great your business is;
getting writers block while trying to write a press release about your
company; countless hours of faxing your story to hundreds editors just to
find out that your piece did not make it to print.
However, public relations does not have to be such a daunting effort. If
done right, public relations can also bring rewarding thoughts to your
mind, like: The constant ringing of phones in your office of people
interested in your products or services; gaining credibility and becoming
a leading expert in your industry; or thousands of people learning about
your company in a matter of days without costing you a dime!
Most small business owners think that public relations is too time
consuming of an effort. This may be true in cases where small businesses
have very limited resources (i.e. staff, budget), but this should not
discourage you from doing it. It is just a matter of prioritizing your
goals and leveraging the resources that you do have available to take
advantage of what is an invaluable marketing tactic. Here are a few tips
to get you started in the right direction:
1. Create several creative story pitches. The way to get into the
hearts and minds of the media is through a great story pitch. Shamelessly
promoting your business or its products is not going to do you much good.
Not only that, but editors may classify you as that annoying self-promoter
that won't stop pitching their product line, and then refer you to the
advertising department. When developing story pitches you should ask
yourself the following questions:
What makes this story different from the hundreds of other stories being
submitted? Will this benefit readers financially, professionally, or
emotionally in any way? Is this really entertaining or fun to read? If the
answer to any of these questions is "No," then it is time to
adjust your story until the answer is "Yes."
2. Match your target audience with the right media channels. If
your company's main customer base is women in their 30s, then you probably
don't want to focus on media channels that target a demographic of men in
their 50s. Really understanding your target audience will help you in the
next step of your PR plan - targeting the right media channels.
3. Have a spokesperson or PR firm represent your company. So let's
assume that you have executed your calling campaign and have sparked
interest with an editor or reporter looking to secure an interview with
someone at your firm. They contact your office but no one is available to
take their call. One thing that journalists and editors lack is patience,
and rightfully so - they have deadlines to fulfill! The last thing you
want is to be unavailable when an editor or reporter wants more
information about your company or products.
4. Take advantage of your opportunities when they present themselves.
PR results do not happen overnight. You must be patient and persistent.
However, when activity comes up, you must ensure that the company is
rewarded for the hard work put in! So do not forget to include your
company information including a 1-3 line sentence describing your company,
author byline (if applicable), and a URL of your web site. Media
professionals will sometimes forget to include this information so it is
your job to include it in your press release, articles, or interview.
In sum, PR is a wildcard marketing strategy that can yield tremendous
results if implemented correctly. Don't forget that your number one goal
is to get in front of your target audience and the rest will take care of
is the Managing Director for Blueliner Marketing,
a full-service marketing and communications firm
based in New York City.
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