There are lots of moving parts when it comes to starting and running a small business. It’s a feat that not many are willing to take on and the brave entrepreneurs that do often have to wear numerous hats. One key element that often gets overlooked or dismissed is Public Relations. Most business owners either don’t fully grasp the value and power of PR or feel they can’t afford it. Truth is, most businesses can’t afford NOT TO invest in PR. PR not only helps build brand awareness for a product or company, but it also does what advertising can’t do, it builds third party credibility, which is PRICELESS. To get the ball rolling or the wheels turning, we’ve put together a few PR strategies every business owner should put into place for 2014.
1) Have an idea? Schedule it! Create a content calendar to tie all of your ideas together into your marketing, social and media pushes. The content calendar will help you create accountability for updates and ideas. It will also help to keep your content fresh.
2) Create social media accounts on all major platforms that are relevant to your business. This helps with updating and leveraging your online presence, and with a content calendar in place, (or in the works), there will be content to post.
3) Know what is happening in your local and business community. Read. Learn what is going on around you in case your business could benefit from the conversation happing in the news and how you can be part of it.
4) Hijack trends. When you see a report about your industry, offer to speak to it. You don’t have to generate the report to offer your opinion and become part of that story. Remember, if you are well informed and have useful information to offer, you can position yourself as an expert resource to reporters.
5) Marketing and PR are different but should be used to support each other. A marketing program is the experience, event, or advertisement you create to target your customer. PR, on the other hand, targets media to cover and promote your marketing programs in the press. Marketing creates the event, PR generates the buzz around the event. Marketing is associated with a call to action like “Sign up here and get 10% off your subscription”, PR is associated with the message behind the product: “Company X has developed a subscription based software that makes tracking your business expenses easier, leading to greater efficiency and savings.”
6) Identify how you want your company to be perceived. What are your key messages, what is important to you and why should your customers care? A great exercise would be to ask your staff to look at your current marketing materials and see if the message being communicated matches your desired messaging. Create a brand guide and list your key messages so everyone on the team is on the same page.
7) Make sure your messaging and goals are aligned. Goals are important for business owners. Is what you are saying about your company getting you to your end goal? Are your goals set for 2014?
8) Learn from others. Look to the Small Business Administration or local entrepreneurial groups to help mentor your business and your decisions. This will help you stay active and continue to grow. All business owners need advice and support. There are a lot of outside groups where owners can now get the advice they need.
9) Get creative. When telling your story, highlight the parts that set you apart. Do you have a different approach to customer service? Do you look to hire veterans or single mothers? Do you provide mentoring programs or offer your employees volunteer time? Use the distinguishing factors to help your brand voice be heard above the noise.
10) Be strategic in creating your PR and marketing plan. Use the tips above to put a PR and marketing strategy into place that will jumpstart the buzz about your business moving into the New Year.
These marketing and public relations tips are provided by LFPR, a public relations agency that produces big agency ideas that achieve results for businesses looking to expand their brand.