Public Relations for Small Business
Public relation is a vital part of the marketing process. It can help a company grow and succeed which most entrepreneurs are aware of. Yet it can be difficult to know exactly what having good public relations means or how to effectively create a good pr campaign, especially if the company is new or small. Many times PR takes a backseat to other aspects of starting a business due to people not fully understanding what to do or why to do it.
What is PR?
The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This is a fairly broad and somewhat obtuse definition to try and create a strategy. To put things more simply, public relations is about earning people’s trust and attention and gaining free publicity as a result.
PR is different from advertising as paid ads are the way a company represents itself. A PR campaign, however, creates a natural relationship between a business and its audience to build brand awareness. For example, a sponsored post on Instagram is advertising. However, if a company sends a product to a blogger to use for free and the person posts a positive review, this is public relations.
Being quoted in magazines, newspapers or online articles are also great forms of PR as well as appearing on TV. Check your area for local TV stations looking for small business stories, just make sure the company is ready for the growth that can come from this kind of exposure.
Why is PR Important?
Understanding exactly what public relations are is the first step in creating a buzzing brand on everyone’s mind. Why it is important is the next key factor in creating a successful PR campaign. Good PR helps you define your brand since most advertisements don’t go into a lot of detail about a company, consumers can be left with some questions. Be sure to address why the company is doing what it is doing and why consumers should care about it. Keep this consistent across all the media platforms the company uses as well.
From a practical point of view, PR costs very little money though it does take up time. Since budgets are tight for new and small businesses, getting other people to talk or write about your service or products won’t cost much money.
This is especially important for small businesses that are trying to compete with larger corporations. Word of mouth publicity, customer testimonials, and editorial media coverage are more effective with consumers than advertising. This has more credibility since they were independently verified by a third party, not purchased, as is the case with advertising.
PR is about delivering value and building trust by establishing long-lasting relationships and goodwill. Commit to spending 30-60 minutes a week nurturing and growing the brand through these relationships and over time the company will see growth.