To all of the brave women out there who are struggling with getting the word out about their businesses, I’m issuing a wake up call: It’s time to abandon the mindset that public relations outreach is just for the big budget behemoths.
Public relations shouldn’t fall to the bottom of a small business to-do list and while creating a slick full-scale campaign might be a bit of a pipe dream in the early stages, there’s no reason a small business can’t engage in some basic media relations tactics to get the word out and facilitate brand engagement.
Common perception dictates that media relations should be relegated to major announcements (store openings, product offerings, etc.) but there are a number of ways to better leverage your brand story to foster more continuous conversation about your brand.
Small organizations and start-ups often need the most help but are also the most pressed for time and have a limited budget. Below are some ways to add some easy fundamental public relations efforts into your marketing mix without the mega price tag.
1. Identify Your Differentiators
Take a step back and observe your positioning in the marketplace. What does your brand offer that sets it apart? Pro tip: Quality, value and service don’t count as differentiators. These are expected. What’s the je n sais quoi that makes your brand unique?
This component is key, so if you find yourself still struggling to find those key differentiators which happens a lot when you’re so close to your business- don’t be afraid to call in some help. My agency, for example, offers a positioning analysis service to help small businesses uncover their sparkle.
2. Make a List (x2!)
This task is a two parter. In order to achieve success in getting your message out, you’ll need to create two different lists.
List #1: Write out your most newsworthy ideas.
What stories do you have to tell that align with your brand? Have an interesting founder’s story? Inspiring employee? Blockbuster client success? In your brainstorming, be sure to think like a reporter. Browse the publications that would likely cover such a topic and see what they’re talking about and frame your news accordingly.
If you would like to speak publicly about an employee or client, be sure to obtain permission first!
To make this easier on an ongoing basis, keep a running idea list as you go about your daily business. I recommend keeping a notepad app on your phone to track any spur-of-the-moment thoughts.
Revisit this list as frequently as you can. If you’re a startup and pressed for time, pencil yourself in an hour or so to think through your best ideas at least once every quarter, if not monthly. Select your top one or two most timely or relevant and think about the best channels for you to share that story.
List #2: List out each of your communications channels by target audience:
So you’ve identified your top stories. Excellent work. Now, are you broadcasting this information in the correct place? What message should be emphasized in what space? Know that traditional media varies from social media, and every social media platform differs in terms of the best times of day to post and audience responsiveness. Also keep in mind that each platform generates different interaction. Set realistic goals based on your platform (clicks? likes? comments?)
Depending on the angle and the target for each angle, your method of delivery could differ greatly. Looking to connect with an older demographic? Print or television might be your best bet. Also consider how your product or service aligns with the values of your key audience.
While the second list is more strategic in nature, it’s important to understand how your message will translate across various channels.
3. Repetition Is Key
Even the most perfect timing and placement doesn’t mean that you’ll achieve full awareness with your target audience. Another pro secret to getting the most out of your messaging: repetition is the key to retention.
Once you’ve settled on your desired messages, develop a variety of delivery methods supporting your key takeaways and share consistently on your desired channels.
4. Evaluate, Revise, Continue!
There’s no silver bullet, so no need to get discouraged if your first few angles don’t spur any interest. Trust me, if every PR person gave up after any failed pitch, there would be no more PR people left in the world.
Set realistic expectations and understand that no amount of coverage (and no single press release) will produce a nice, clean ROI. Be sure to have a plan to leverage any successes understand what worked and see how that can be replicated in other aspects of your communications.
You’ll find that once you’ve laid the groundwork for your communications strategy, this messaging will bleed into your overarching marketing plans. Will everything be a home run? Of course not. But these steps will help you better allow you to take control of your brand’s conversation before someone else does.