Image is everything… I’ll explain with a small exercise. Visualize what a doctor looks like; they might be holding a tongue depressor or have a stethoscope around their neck. Now visualize an architect or a trades person. Are they holding tools or a set of plans? We all have notions about how people in these professions work, the values they hold and what they do.
Though with PR professionals, how do we visualize them? Which tools are at their disposal? The tools a PR professional has aren’t traditional; they’re complex and sometimes a little slippery to understand. We’re not that different from other professionals, we have tools in our box and we can make massive plans, but we generally call them campaigns. We are engineers of opinion and a PR professional can effectively plan and achieve your business goals with you.
Usually reserved for the corporates, public relations is finding new ground in the online space for SMB’s with blogger engagement, social media and good old traditional media placement that can help push sales in your online store. PR has the image that it’s expensive, time consuming and only practical with larger organisations, but there’s a few simple ways that small to medium business owners can use PR strategies and tactics on much smaller scales.
- Blogger Engagement
Bloggers are a new breed of journalist. They don’t have editors barking orders and them and they have huge amounts of creative freedom, sometimes bad and good. Their agenda is their own and they don’t have the same professional constraints that journalists tend to have; their audience are the moral arbitrators.
As a small business owner, don’t be afraid to contact bloggers with trials or product samples for reviews, comments and feedback. They’re passionate but generally very reasonable and open. They won’t shut you out and can provide a direct link to your online store. Alongside a rave review of your business, you could rake in the sales if they have a big enough readership.
- Social Media
The great democratizer, social media produces big results but some think it’s too unpredictable and time consuming. The great thing about social media is that it shouldn’t be any of these, it should only be 10 – 20 minutes of your day if you have a small to medium online business. They key when integrating social media into your marketing plans is simple, take the online offline and the offline online. Put ‘like’ buttons all over your website, retain customer details for mailing lists, find and add your loyal customers on Facebook and work on your relationship with them. It will help your earn return business. Check-ins also help build awareness around your business, especially when you incentivize it.
- Traditional Media
Got an interesting story to share about your business? Hit local publications with unique stories and never underestimate the power of a local focus. Make sure the story demonstrates your business values. How did you get your business name? How did the business start? When did your passion for ethically sourced coffee beans begin? Tell your story and help build affinity with your readers. Make them love the story and they’ll love you. They’re local and will most likely visit your website, too!
Work on a strong relationship with journalists and they may include a link at the end of the article. They understand you’re a small business and need support. If they’re really feeling generous, a QR code with special offers would tie in amazingly! They love small businesses, because they’re mostly dealing with pushy PR people from large corporates. Your small business is a welcome and refreshing reprieve from the usual.
Use these 3 scaled down PR strategies to start working on your company image. With a small amount of time each week, you can help your business grow by demonstrating your business values and building a better connection with the public and, most importantly, your target audience.
Guest author Belinda Darling is a specialist copywriter working along side Phoebe Netto, the founder and Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, a business advisory and PR firm specializing in marketing and public relations for small business and not-for-profits.