07 August 2010

Does your small business need a PR boost?

By Catriona Pollard, Director CP Communications

What business isn’t interested in raising their company’s profile, increasing brand awareness and positioning their business as highly credible in their industry? The implementation of a well thought out public relations strategy does all of this and yet still, some businesses do not put a PR plan into place.

Many small businesses without the budget to outsource their PR, give it go but there are some common mistakes they can make. Avoid the following and give your business the best chance possible at achieving media coverage and valuable PR results.

Where small businesses go wrong:

1) Not understanding their target market and where they get their information

It’s so important to know who you want to reach, who you are selling to and who you ultimately want to do business with. By pin-pointing your target market you then need to find out what they are reading, watching and listening to. Is there a niche publication you should be trying to get coverage in? Know where your market is and go to them.

2) Keeping their big news secret

A big part of PR is being vocal when you have something exciting to share. If your business reaches its first birthday; if you win new client business; if you’re launching a new product or it’s your ten year business anniversary, shout it from the rooftops. From your local paper to your industry online newsletter, there are many avenues for you to announce your news.

3) Keeping expert knowledge to themselves

You may not consider yourself an expert but if you’ve worked in roofing for 20 years or your business is all about beauty, you probably know a lot more about your industry than most people and can position yourself as an expert. Whether you choose to write articles, blog posts or speak at events, sharing your knowledge will not only help others but also increase your credibility rating.

4) Being afraid of social media.

Social what? You know it has something to do with twits and faces but it all seems too complicated for you to get involved with. Well, social media is here to stay so it is time to jump on the bandwagon. It’s an amazing way of broadening your reach, communicating with customers, sharing your articles, media releases and advice. It’s also a fantastic way to network with people who are interested in what you have to offer.

5) Misusing social media

It’s all well and good to set up your social media and hope it works like it’s meant to. However it is easy enough to make the mistake of misunderstanding how networks like Twitter and Facebook should be used. Some businesses will try and blast their followers with sales information, ads and discounts but the key to social media is the two way engagement.

Instead, have a conversation with your customers through sites like Twitter and Facebook rather than broadcasting information at them. Build a relationship with them and watch your brand awareness and credibility increase. Social media is not about an instant return on investment.

6) Failing to network

The last thing you might feel like doing after a long day at the office is going and talking to a bunch of strangers but this is exactly what you need to do to make strong connections in your industry. Having contacts is a powerful tool as word of mouth is so much more effective than advertising. Just remember not to attend networking events with sales in mind. It’s all about building a relationship.

7) Not producing an e-newsletter

If you have collected contact details from your customers in the past and you’re not doing anything with them, this is something that must definitely change. Writing and distributing a monthly newsletter with relevant and interesting information that your customers will find helpful will keep them engaged and coming back for more. Having an option to register for your valuable newsletter gives new visitors to your site the incentive to sign up, providing you with more contact details of potential customers.

8) Throwing their ‘PR net’ too wide

It’s tempting to do: build one list of media contacts and send every journalist the same media releases and articles, crossing your fingers that someone will pick them up. To effectively get regular media coverage you need to read the publications you are pitching to and provide them with an angle to a relevant story they would be interested in running. Industry and smaller publications are often on the look-out for content and welcome contributions.

9) Having stale content on their website

It is so important to keep your website fresh and new with regular updates. If you have a media section be sure to include news on a regular basis to keep your website looking active and keep people coming back for more. Having old content on your website does nothing for your credibility – and won’t get you new sales.

10) NOT getting feedback from happy customers

Your happy customers are your best bet when it comes to letting potential customers know how great you are at what you do. Feedback can be your best friend so go out and ask for testimonials and publicise them on your website. Positive testimonials work wonders when recruiting new business as people can see what you’ve done for others before and how satisfied they have been with you.

About the Author

Catriona Pollard is director of CP Communications which provides specialist media, traditional and online PR strategies that achieve positive media coverage, increased brand awareness and improved sales results.

Phone: (02) 9922 1063

3 thoughts on “Does your small business need a PR boost?”

  1. These are great input.:) We tend to forget some of these important points as we deal with public relations which can have great effects in the effectiveness of publicity.

  2. im around 22, in school and i am having a hard time! I study biology and when I’m not super busy with class im usually out surfing and following my favorite celebrity Chelsea Handler!

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