Six PR Tips for Small Businesses

Business owners know a lot about running their businesses, and many appreciate the value of marketing and PR. In fact, public relations is a vital part of a company’s overall marketing plan. Public relations helps keep your business name, products or services in front of your audience -- whether consumer or trade -- across media. Here are six tips for small businesses regarding PR.

1. Make public relations a priority . . . from the start.

When planning your marketing or sales budget, make sure you carve out both budget and time for public relations, whether is it for news release development, events, sponsored content or a social media plan, for example.

2. Develop your messaging and market positioning.

Prepare a compelling media pitch or story about your business, know your talking points and know who your target media are.

3. Speaking of target media . . .

Read the publications you want to target and see which reporters cover your industry or tackle the issues on which you would like to be seen as a thought leader. Media relations requires a targeted and strategic approach; don’t blanket the media with a press release that doesn’t pertain to their beat or coverage. This is a good example of “less is more.”

4. Have the right press materials ready.

You will need a company backgrounder or fact sheet and bios of key management, at a minimum. Consider fact sheets on your products or service areas. You will also need a solid boilerplate paragraph for your press releases (the “about us” information that appears at the end of a news release).

5. Pick up the phone!

In this age of social media and email, speaking with a reporter in real time has become a lost art. Yes, it’s true they often don’t pick up the phone (they are busy reporting on stories, after all), and some reporters simply prefer to communicate via email or Twitter. But making your pitch or following up on a story idea in real time with a phone call goes a long way toward building that all-important media relationship, and you will most certainly stand out. Besides, if they pass on your story idea, you can seize the opportunity to inquire further about their editorial priorities or if they are currently working on any stories that you MIGHT be able to assist with.

6. Be patient.

It’s a rare occurrence that a pitch gets the green light the first time you contact a reporter. Take the time to build the relationship. Bring the reporter relevant story ideas or help him or her tap a resource that may be a client or colleague of yours. These relationships, like any others that are worthwhile, take time to cultivate. Be genuine, but nurture them consistently.