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Top-Shelf Tip No. 254:

"When a business has mojo you want to be associated with it."

Bo Burlingham

Five Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage PR

It was Edward Bernays, known as the father of public relations, who said, ""Modern business must have its finger continuously on the public pulse. It must understand the changes in the public mind and be prepared to interpret itself fairly and eloquently to changing opinion."

In today's business world, public relations is often associated with large, corporate challenges and societal issues. But, PR can have an important impact on a small business as well. In fact, when it comes to branding and marketing, PR is one of the most important tools to help get you the right type of attention-and it can easily fit into your marketing budget.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these five tips for PR success, from business author Shannon Gausepohl.

To get started with PR, begin with the right mindset. Building brand awareness and name recognition takes time. Gausepohl advises to set aside 10 percent of your annual budget for public relations activities. Use these dollars to help you:

· Establish clear, measurable goals for your business.

· Determine the best strategy to achieve these goals and execute this strategy.

· Review your results and establish new goals or a new strategy.

Here are key steps to building and implementing your plan:

1. Figure out your "why." What is the ultimate goal of your PR campaign? Increase customer engagement? Position yourself as a community leader? You'll need to define your goal before creating your PR strategy or tactics.

Remember, the "why" is your story, not your product or your service. For example, say you are a launching a new restaurant. Instead of telling people to check out this new trendy place (your what), you'll need to answer why it matters. Why did you decide to start this restaurant in the first place?

2. Build your own media list. The next step is to identify your influencers, both online and offline. Who are those influencers with the most targeted reach that can serve as a third-party earned endorsement? Before you pitch anything, make sure that what you're sending is relevant to what the media out writes about or covers.

3. Create your brand message. When sending information, personalize it to both your brand and the person you are pitching to. Often, highly personalized, short email pitches are better than long-winded news releases.

Also, if you don't hear back right away, don't take it personally. It often takes a few tries before a journalist will reach out to you. If one pitch doesn't work, be patient, wait and try a new angle when you have something newsworthy to share again.

4. Be a source for the media. It's valuable to build relationships with journalists in your industry. You can save them time by providing industry information and being a resource. Be fast in your response to their requests and don't bother with multiple follow-ups. Be sincere, helpful and informative.

5. Ask for help. There are PR resources to fit any budget, so ask for help. You can source both independent contractors as well as PR firms to help you navigate your industry landscape. These resources already have the trust and relationships with the media, and they can help you design PR campaigns that build your brand and serve as a resource should you need to navigate through any potential issues.

Try these tips to improve your PR value, influence key audiences and build your brand equity.

Source: Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Gausepohl is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson