A Public Relations Primer for Business Owners
By Nicole Nashar Andrews
With today's tough economy and streamlined promotional budgets, business owners are faced with doing more with fewer resources. To help their businesses survive, owners must find smart ways to stand out in a crowded marketplace by launching cost-efficient public relation (PR) campaigns with tools that drive measurable results.
Do the Research.
The first step is to evaluate your business to determine the key differentiators that make up your distinctive set of products or services. Once your differentiators have been identified, develop a core organizational message that effectively states the overall value delivered to your customers and the uniqueness of your company's products or services. This is a critical thought process that will help to ensure you are communicating the right message.
Plan the Work.
Now that you've defined your unique organizational assets - and before you can begin to pitch your company - develop a list of targeted media outlets and contact persons for your story ideas. Be sure to include your area newspapers, business journals, trade publications, and TV and radio outlets. You should also request editorial calendars from these outlets as they offer an important resource for finding planned story opportunities that may relate to your core business.
Work the Plan.
You’ve now developed your core message, outlined your differentiators and identified media targets to pitch your story ideas that will reach the right audience and can get tangible business results. Now what? It's time to deploy those messages using cost efficient and effective communication tools, including:
- Developing regular and consistent messaging through the use of strategic and well written news releases.
- Integrating PR with Search Engine Optimization ("SEO") strategies, which can result in an increase of valuable inbound links, ranking in Google as well as lead generation opportunities.
- Using social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, etc., all of which are high-powered and low-cost communication channels.
- Communicating directly with reporters and becoming a valued resource to them. This can include pitching key employees/executives to be quoted in future stories, pitching exclusive stories to appropriate media or offering to write by-lined articles, if applicable, to that outlet.
- Managing your company's website (including utilizing SEO strategies) to be sure it is consistent with the messages and corporate identity you are conveying in the vehicles listed above.
These five tactics are by no means all you need to know to develop a comprehensive communications program, but they are integral to any such plan.
Business owners can affordably secure consumer and media mindshare and experience growth by leveraging the power of public relations to reach potentially millions of readers and likely customers.