Public relations isn’t just for big corporations. Any size or type of business can benefit from media exposure and the right “spin”. You don’t need a PR agent and can do much of the legwork yourself. But you do need a plan in place. In drafting a PR plan, there are some things to consider that will help you prepare for interaction with journalists, promoting your business and handling sticky situations.
Have someone help you develop the “story” of your business so that, should you reach out to or be approached by a journalist, you have the basics for them prepared. Develop the angle. Explain not just who your unique customer or selling proposition is, but also what makes you and/or your team unique. Are you a first generation business owner or does it go back many years? Did you drop out of college or leave the corporate world to start a business? Are you a woman or minority? Did you use micro-lending? Something about your story is unique. Discover it and write it down!
Use press releases and social media, both of which are free PR. Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn from your colleagues and customers. In fact, nearly everything I write about in the marketing or online sections can be considered “public relations!”
Develop a press kit. The basics of a press kit include background and contact information for you and/or the company, a fact sheet with statistic information like sales, demographic of customers, etc. biographies of your Board and key staff members, photos and other high definition images including of your logo and additional advertising materials. A graphics firm is likely adept at doing much of this.
Sign up with Help a Reporter Out. This free service connects experts and stories with reporters in need. The list comes to you by email three times per day and the process is easy.
Get involved in local community events. Sponsor a ball team. Volunteer as an expert for a local education group or a class.
If you find yourself in some type of PR mess, first consult your attorney to make sure you are not facing any legal issues. If it is very delicate, this may be the time to work with a PR consultant. If it is not terribly tricky, be as honest and transparent as possible AFTER you’ve consulted with your legal counsel!
Most small businesses will never employ a Public Relations expert, but you can use many of the tricks of the trade these professionals use to promote your own business inexpensively.
by Steven Schlagel