For small business owners, the idea of an integrated public relations campaign can be rather daunting, but to enhance your business, you need to build relationships with thought leaders, bloggers, and reporters in your community. An integrated communications strategy can be greatly beneficial for a company, and a few basic public relations strategies can help you build relationships with influencers in your community.
Celebrate your company
Show local decision makers, thought leaders, and the media what makes your company special by hosting an open house or milestone celebration. These festivities are a simple, fun way to bring traffic to your business while simultaneously promoting your success. Often, your local chamber of commerce will partner with you to send a release and invitations. Don’t forget to include your city and county representatives along with business reporters and industry bloggers.
If you are looking for a longer PR campaign, an event such as an open house or a celebration can be the highlight. Events provide an opportunity for the community to learn about your company in a social setting, giving you a chance to build credibility and relationships more casually than a sales pitch.
Step in the spotlight
Many public relations strategies call for stepping up to the microphone. As a small business owner, this idea may seem frightening; however, giving the media access to your knowledge will build a relationship and reliability to the community.
There are numerous ways to give the media access to your knowledge. One option is to offer a one-on-one interview as a subject matter expert. This media strategy shows your expertise in whatever area encompasses your small business. In one interview, you can publicize your small business, create credibility within your community, and make connections with media representatives.
Another option for media networking may leave you behind the scenes. Oftentimes, print media reporters need background information before beginning a story. Offer to be source expert for reporters in your area. This public relations strategy succeeds whether or not you are quoted for your information because reporters will come to trust and depend on your knowledge in that subject. To get started, send individual emails to reporters that cover your area of expertise. For example, if you run a small school for special needs students, list out the specialized knowledge and experience you and your staff hold. Let the reporter know you can help offer information and background on a specific list of topics if they are covering a relevant story on early learning and development or other relevant stories.
Not sure you are ready for an announcement? Check out our blog with tips on how to plan for a press release.
Grant exclusive early access
When used sparingly, early access tactics can give your company the upper hand on media coverage. Exclusive early access to a credible reporter during the time of a major event can be a win-win for you both – your small business gets more media coverage, and your reporter breaks a story first. However, be warned: this PR strategy should be used with caution. If used too often, media outlets that are not given exclusive access may feel alienated and stop covering your small business entirely.
To offer exclusive early access, put an embargoed release together and send it to the reporter at least two days in advance of the date you intend to make your announcement. Tell them that, if they are interested, you are offering exclusive access to pictures, interviews, etc. Remember that this doesn’t guarantee a story. If they decline, reach out to a reporter or blogger at a different publication.
Focus on people
Hiring new employees in leadership positions is a sign of your company’s growth. Information about new leaders in your business as well as company expansion is a great way to attract the attention of business section reporters. Convey your pride in new hires by sending release information about the person, the position, and the company’s success to your local business reporter. Don’t abuse this opportunity by sending announcements about all new hires; keep it high level.
If your small business ever engages in partnerships, telling the media is another commonly used PR strategy. While the main focus of a partnership is to better your companies, partnerships can also increase interest for both parties if marketed correctly. For example, if you’re a local restaurant and partner with a bakery for bread products or with a local farmer for produce, this can be media worthy. Just make sure you work with your partner to share the story, and have both teams ready for media interviews.
The power of an online presence and inbound marketing in the modern business world is clear; you won’t always have all the media coverage you’d like, so it is important that your small business participate in social media and blogging. It is not enough to repost other people’s material, however; create your own content to establish an online identity. Public relations campaigns almost always have a social media component in today’s market, and without an online presence your company may fall behind. Whether you own a restaurant, retail store, or manufacturing company, your customers search online before they make a purchase decision. Not only will content help increase your search engine optimization, but it also introduces online viewers to your small business’ personality. Original content, through social media or blogs, gives you the opportunity to create your own brand’s voice that will attract customers to your small business.
Not sure how to get started with inbound marketing? Download our checklist of items to ensure you cover all your bases.