Public relations is not the first thing you think of when it comes to marketing a small business. But PR can play a significant role in determining the kind of customers you attract and the level of brand loyalty that you enjoy.
According to an eMerge study, nearly 75 percent of customers cite brand awareness as an influencing factor in their purchasing decision. Also, consistent branding is noted to be worth 20 percent more than businesses that do not have a consistent brand.
The most effective way to kickstart PR for your business is by subscribing to HARO (Help A Reporter Out).
This is a free email newsletter service that brings together journalists looking for sources and businesses and PR agents looking for visibility on related industry topics. Once you subscribe to HARO, you get new PR requests from journalists multiple times in a day. Make it a point to only respond to queries where you are an ideal source. Once you have identified the right opportunities, respond to queries with succinct responses that clearly answer the questions posed by the journalists. In addition to this, it is also important to establish your authority in the space. It is a good idea to include a paragraph at the end that includes details about what your company does and why you are an industry authority.
Hire A PR Agency.
As a small business, you may not have enough newsworthy moments to hire a full time PR agent for your business. It is a good idea to instead outsource this component of marketing to an external agency. Hiring an agency that aligns with your business culture and values is extremely important. Grayson Lafrenz, the CEO of Power Digital recommends a small business to ask the following three questions while hiring a PR agency
1) Is the PR agency using strategies that are outdated,
2) Does the agency measure its success in terms of conversions, brand lift and website traffic?
3) Is the pricing model vested in the success of the campaign (pay for performance, guaranteed placements, etc.)
A good PR agency will help you discover new media opportunities that you never knew existed and could thus help recoup the investments in the form of greater brand awareness, more footfalls and higher revenues.
Build A Media List.
There are dozens of online services that sell media lists. These are not really useful since such lists are often divided by broad categories and these media contacts are not always interested in your particular line of business. It is a good idea to build a media list yourself. You can do this by setting up a Google News Alert for keywords that represent your industry and building a database of journalists who write on these specific topics. Most media outlets share the email of their journalists alongside their stories. You may make use of services like EmailFinder to discover the emails of writers whose contact details are not publicly available.
Engage With Journalists.
Most journalists and industry bloggers are active on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For effective PR, it is not only important to reach out to them when they are writing about your industry, but also engage with them at other times. Commend them on articles that are truly helpful to you as a reader. Refer them to people in your network when they are seeking contacts. By constantly engaging with them, you set yourself up to be more visible in their eyes. This helps with your PR when you have something newsworthy to share with them.
Be A Thought Leader.
One of the most effective ways to build a brand around your business is by becoming a thought leader in your industry. You could do this by pitching topics as a guest contributor on your industry blogs. These blogs reach out your target customers and by providing them with helpful advice and thought leadership through content, you establish authority. Most of the established blogs however require guest contributors to offer samples of their past work. To work around this, start with contributing on the smaller blogs and use this content to pitch your Op-Eds on the bigger blogs.