As an entrepreneur, you are constantly looking for ways to make your business better. However, faced with the numerous tasks and often last minute demands that come along with managing your own business, you don’t always have time to implement those brilliant ideas.
Public relations activities are an example of initiatives that often go by the wayside in a small business setting, as you most likely don’t have a devoted public relations specialist, and the creation and implementation of these activities can seem daunting and foreign. When implementing an aggressive PR strategy, it’s always good to seek professional advice from a PR firm, especially in the case of a resolving a PR crisis. You can also devise a simple plan which you can easily follow. Here’s how:
• Select someone from your organization who has displayed initiative and who has good writing skills. Appoint them as your businesses’ PR contact. His/ her job will be to seek PR events which the business can organize or take part in, in addition to writing press releases and contacting the media. It should be stressed to them that although he/she should always be on the lookout for PR opportunities, PR activities should only take up to a few hours of their time on a bi-weekly or monthly basis (unless you have the option of devoting more resources to these endeavors).
• Work with this selected person to devise a simple PR plan for a limited amount of time (i.e. quarter, 6 months, or year). The plan, which should be no longer than a few pages, should include:
o Long Term PR Goals: What is your business looking to get out of this? (i.e. “Increase awareness of the organization as a superior customer-service business in the area,” or “Increase the profile of the organization as a business which gives back to the community.”)
o PR Activities: Jot down ideas for events that you would like to hold in the specific timeframe and identify approximately when they will take place. Don’t be overly ambitious at first. It’s better to pick fewer events and activities that you will actually do. (i.e. customer appreciation BBQ; donation and cheque presentation to local charity, etc.)
o Execution: Identify your course of action for the above-mentioned events. (i.e. plan logistics of event; create local media contact list; draft press release; make media calls; take pictures at event; look out for resulting media clippings, etc.)
• At the end of the specific timeframe, re-evaluate your plan to see what worked, and what didn’t. Plan your next period accordingly, and continue building your media contact list, as well as your media clippings package which should include the press which you’ve earned.
Don’t make the mistake of delaying the creation of your businesses’ first PR plan, because you’ll soon discover that it takes much less time than you would think. Plus, once you’ve done one, you can build on it in the future. There are many benefits associated with PR, as it is largely a risk-free and low-cost proposition for your business which could lead to thousands of dollars of earned media, and most importantly, can create widespread recognition of your business by the community.
So don’t waste a minute and get to it right away—because effective PR is what all successful businesses are now focusing on! For more information please feel free to contact me at 613-233-8906 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.
Huw Williams is President of Impact Public Affairs, an Ottawa-based public relations and government relations firm specializing in finding innovative strategic communications and advocacy solutions for large industry associations. Over the years, Impact has been recognized nationally and internationally for the effective and creative public affairs campaigns that it has created for its client.
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