Tips for the small business owner
Increasingly, leading corporations with sophisticated communications plans are seeing the value of public relations as a complement to their advertising efforts. Not only is public relations a lot less costly than advertising, but it is also more credible. Study after study has shown that the public judges what they read and hear in the news to be much more believable than the messaging stemming from advertisements.
Make no mistake; advertising should continue to play an important, if not dominant role in the marketing mix of your business. What many businesses fail to capitalize on, however, is the public relations work that they are already doing.
Your business should first look into hiring a public relations firm to help you craft your PR plan. PR professionals will be able to assess your current marketing strategy and evaluate where there are opportunities to increase your brand awareness.
As a small business owner, there are a handful of elements which differentiate you from the competition of alternative business channels: you are independent, you provide choice, and you are hopefully deeply involved in your respective communities.
So, what can you do as a small business to further your public relations efforts? The good news is that by partaking in constructive community initiatives, you already are engaging in public relations! The next step is to now leverage these activities in your favour. You can do this by inviting local media to your next community event, or by writing a press release about your charitable initiatives and sending it to a target list of journalists in your area. Don’t make the mistake of being humble when it comes to your community outreach, because this positive work should never go unnoticed!
Although there never are any guarantees that the media will pick up your story, you will discover that your efforts are well worth it when they do. You could see your business benefit from free promotion courtesy of your local radio station, TV station or newspaper which will help further position yourself as an involved community member. You will be happy to know that these media mentions, called “earned media” in PR terms, are most times worth thousands of dollars in equivalent advertising buy!
As the competition in the small business world gets more aggressive, it’s time to ramp up your public relations efforts to promote your strengths. So don’t be shy—give the public reasons to believe why they should do business with YOU!
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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