Small businesses don’t have the kind of press following that multinational companies enjoy. However, this does not mean that they cannot get publicity. Actually, small and medium sized businesses have better chances of getting positive PR than large corporations.
PR has to be an integral part of your business strategy for growth. Yes, advertising is important too, but the benefits of investing in PR outweigh the benefits of investing in advertising. To start with, PR is not viewed as a traditional ad. It is the perspective of a third party that has no vested interests in your business and as a result, PR enjoys greater credibility. When we watch a commercial, we know they are attempting to sell something to us and hence we are less likely to believe all that is said or shown in the advertisement. But when a newspaper or a magazine endorses a product, we are more likely to buy it. The trust that we have in these media outlets encourages us to view the businesses endorsed by them in a positive light. In most cases, you don’t pay for the media coverage. When you invest in PR on a regular basis, you will be able to create awareness about your business, products, services, and work ethics. The visibility that you get from these campaigns will also make your business look more credible and established than it really is. In addition, greater media coverage makes it easy to acquire funding and partnerships. It will also help you acquire more customers. PR improves your bottom line, too. It is cheaper than advertising and brings in more benefits. Excellent media coverage will lead to exponential growth.
Here are a few ways to leverage the ‘smallness’ of your business.
- Tell personal stories
Unlike large corporations, small businesses have inspiring personal stories to share. Many of them started in a humble garage and then went on to become phenomenal success stories. For instance, take the case of Facebook and Microsoft. They are no longer small businesses, but they too had humble beginnings. If you have an amazing story about how you launched your business and overcame setbacks after setbacks to achieve success, media will gladly profile your stories. There are websites and magazines that target aspiring entrepreneurs. If your story is inspiring and of interest to their readers, they will readily publish it. For example, your local business newspaper may have a column on homegrown businesses. If your business is growing fast and your story is awe-inspiring, you can easily get featured in it and reach thousands of potential customers without spending a dime. That is what PR does to your business.
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- Leverage the rapport you have with your customers
Since your small business has a small customer base, you are more likely to know each and every one of them. This allows you to build better relations with your regulars. This rapport that you enjoy with your customers is a good opportunity to get good PR coverage. The media also loves customer testimonials because they want someone other than you to say nice things about your business.
Find a customer who can talk well during an interview. While pitching your story to the media, offer this customer as a source. The media will approach them and if they say great things about your brand, you will get good publicity. The customer will also get their 20 seconds of fame. It is a win-win situation for both of you.
- Have a positive impact on your community
Small businesses can influence their communities in numerous ways. Big businesses spend truckloads of money to showcase the humanitarian side of their company. Small businesses can achieve the same results by spending a fraction of that. Since your business serves your community, there are numerous ways for you to get involved in it. If you are very active in the local community, it is not hard for you to become the darling of the local media.
Small businesses can quickly capitalize on events that are currently making headlines. They don’t have much bureaucracy to deal with. There may be sudden and unexpected events that increase or decrease the sale of your products. It won’t take you a lot of time to figure out what impact that event had on your sales. You can pitch those figures to the media. They love stories, and if yours is unique and authentic, they are going to publish it.
- Less bad publicity
Another advantage that small businesses have over large businesses is that they really have to mess things up to garner negative publicity. If you do something wrong and it really isn’t that serious, the media will just ignore it. By contrast, if a Fortune 500 company makes a mistake, it will get blown out of proportion. Likewise, a big business has to do something substantial to get positive PR. Small businesses, on the other hand, will get featured in the media for even small acts of kindness or generosity.
- Build a list
Newsletters also allow you to stay connected to your customers. Collect the email addresses of existing and potential customers and send them periodic updates. Make sure that your newsletter provides value. If it is too salesy, no one will bother to open it.
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There are different types of public relations. Media such as TV, radio, newspapers or the internet are unlikely to accept payment to feature your story because they want to maintain their integrity and credibility. That means you can get your story published for free. However, there is a catch. Your story must be intriguing enough. If it isn’t, they are more likely to give it a pass.
If budget permits, you should consider arranging a media tour. This requires you to employ a company spokesperson, who will travel around, attend events and give interviews. A PR person or service can help you get prominent coverage in traditional as well as digital media.