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Spread the Word; 7 Tips for Promoting your Business with Public Relations

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Spread the Word; 7 Tips for Promoting your Business with Public Relations

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 14, 2010 Updated: March 28, 2013

Is public relations an essential part of your small business marketing toolkit?

 

It should be. Because, done well, public relations can help promote your business for the long term in a way that a paid advertisement never will.

 

A public relations strategy also has the potential to extend your marketing reach beyond where your direct mail and email marketing can ever go. It reaches both influencers (journalists and bloggers) and those they influence (your potential customers) bringing credibility to your business locally, regionally and sometimes nationally.

 

That said, it takes time and investment to get it right. Public relations is not all about spin and schmooze. Like all aspects of marketing it requires you to know your target market and plan an approach that really gets your company noticed.

 

Here are some tips for promoting your business through public relations.

 

1. Write your Positioning Statement

 

The first part of having a story to tell about your business is defining why it is different. Your positioning statement should explain this in a few sentences. To help you craft your message, follow the steps in this article:;Stand Out from the Crowd- 7 Tips for Creating a Marketing Message that Sticks

2. Define your Goals

 

You want good publicity right? Well, yo're going to need to be more specific than that if you want to reach the right people with the right message.

 

For example, do you have a specific milestone, achievement or event that you want a reporter to write about? Do you have a new product on the market that you want reviewed? What about showcasing your business as a great place to work? Are you an inspirational speaker' could raising your business profile through public speaking be in your game plan?

 

Each goal that you identify will have its own sub-plan of action, priority and deadline. So step back before you call your local friendly journalist looking for some free PR spin, and take time to consider your long-term goals.

 

3. Identify your Target Market

 

You probably already have a good sense of who your target market is, but i's useful to step-back and think about them in a little more detail as you plan your PR strategy. Knowing your target market will help you understand the best media outlets for reaching them. What gender are they? Where do they live? What are their lifestyles? If you sell to business customers, think about their business drivers, challenges and needs.

 

4. Line up Your Media Shortlist

 

Using your knowledge of your business, your customers and your goals, line up a shortlist of magazines, newspapers, blogs, and even radio stations that you think would be appropriate outlets for your business. Most media outlets have editors or writers who cover specific industries (e.g. the restaurant reviewer at your local newspaper or a business editor who covers business news) who you should try to contact directly. If you do't know who to contact, send an email to the publicatio's main'Contact U' email address. I's bad practice to engage a reporter who doesn't cover the topic you want to pitch.

 

Pitching to bloggers is another great way to get publicity. Small business expert, Rieva Lesonsky explains how to do this in her article How to get Bloggers to Write about your Business.

 

5. What's Your Story?

 

Just because you think you have something newsworthy to say, not everyone will agree. Try to come up with some story angles that relate to something topical and gain publicity by association. Are you hosting or speaking at an event? Why not use PR as a way of letting your target community know? What about tying your business or product release to a trend, industry personality or news event?

 

Lastly, remember who you are pitching to and align the tone, content, and scope of your story to that reporter and their publication. If your angle is good, there's a strong chance a creative reporter will be responsive.

 

6. Pitching your Story

 

Eek, you have a story, now you've got to do the hard part - pitch it.

You don't need to hire a PR agency to do this for you; all you need to get started is a well-crafted press release, together with an accompanying cover note email to give your release some context.

 

These guidelines can help you make sure your press release stands out:

  • Tailor the tone and content to that of your target media shortlist
  • Stick to one page, two at most of double-spaced copy and include an eye-catching headline, contact information and the date of the release, along with the location (city, state) of your business (or where the news is taking place)
  • Present the information and what it means for the marketplace and your customers, without embellishment. You want to help the reporter quickly determine the newsworthiness and value of your story and it's relevance to his or her publication.
  • Have several people review the headline and the content. Is it compelling? Does it align with your goals? And double check for typos.
  • Submit your release over a PR wire service. There are lots of wire services out there and they range drastically in cost. For most small businesses, submitting your release over a local (versus national) wire will suite you just fine and save you considerably.

If you really cringe at the idea of writing a press release or approaching a reporter over email, hire a copywriter for a few hours to help you craft your pitch.

 

7. Be Sure to Follow-Up

 

Don't just send your release into a black hole and hope for the best. Follow-up with a telephone call or personal email, and respond immediately if you do get a call-back. Above all don't give up, follow through with your PR plan and keep sending releases on different story lines throughout the year. If your story is good and your releases are well written, something will eventually stick!

 

Good luck!

 

Related Resources

  • Small Business Marketing Guide - Tips, tools and resources from Business.gov to help you research your market, develop a marketing plan and use online and offline marketing tools to market your business.

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    About the Author:

    Caron Beesley

    Contributor

    Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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