My hometown is nestled among a grouping of small, tight-knit communities that collectively feature right around 600 small businesses. Of those 600 businesses, I’d say maybe 10 engage in strategic public relations. The rest… well, they either don’t know how to go about PR or they simply don’t see the importance of it. I write a ton of press releases for my clients, so I have a bit of insight about public relations and I can unequivocally say that small businesses need good PR. Here’s why.
Many small business owners think PR should behave as advertising. If they issue a press release or engage in some other PR activity, they believe there should be an immediate and measurable return. But PR is about making sure the public understands who you are, what you do and what you stand for. It takes time, but the long-term rewards of a sustained PR strategy pay off huge dividends.
Good PR means potential customers will think of you first when they need what you sell. They’ll also trust you as the authority in your field. They’ll feel confident doing business with you – an established company that regularly makes headlines, even if it’s just the business page in the back of the local newspaper.
Good PR also means you’re more likely to be interviewed or even featured in newspapers and magazines, on TV and radio, and even on websites and blogs. When you become a media source, you gain third-party validation that advertising simply can’t buy.
Good PR lets you get the word out about your new products, services, staff and milestones; and allows you to deal with controversy on your terms, if needed. More importantly, it establishes you as an authority in your industry and generates interest in your products and services.
Good PR isn’t necessarily expensive; you don’t have to pay for worldwide distribution if you’re targeting local customers. Moreover, you can build your own distribution list in an afternoon. Start small – say, 100 or 200 news outlets that are in your locale or your industry – and grow it by a few dozen every month. In a year’s time, you could easily distribute your news to more than 1,000 sources without paying a dime.
You can even write your own press releases, provided you understand what makes a good release. All it takes is a bit of training and practice. Or, hire a press release writer; for a few hundred dollars, you could get better exposure than a few thousand dollars could possibly purchase.
Finally, good PR gives you a distinct advantage over your competitors. Customers like to buy from known entities, and PR most definitely gets you known.
Remember when I said only about 10 companies out of 600 local companies actively engage in PR efforts? Can you guess which companies are the most successful in my community? That’s right… the 10 who take the time to engage in public relations.
Do you engage in PR? Leave your thoughts in a comment.