A good small business marketing strategy often includes a number of different components. Public relations, social media, email marketing, blogging and online ads may all factor into the mix in some form. But in some cases, those different categories tend to overlap. This is especially true when it comes to social media and public relations. Social media platforms offer tons of potential benefits for improving PR strategies.
Heather DeSantis is uniquely familiar with this blend. As the founder of Publicity for Good, DeSantis helps top brands form their PR strategies using modern tools and methods — including social media. She recently spoke with Small Business Trends to discuss this fine balance and share tips for entrepreneurs. Here are some top insights.
Using Social Media for Public Relations
Find the Most Relevant Trending Topics
One of the best ways that social media can benefit businesses and their marketing doesn’t have anything to do with sharing messages — it’s all about research. Social media gives you a direct look into the thoughts of your community, your target customers, and the world as a whole. Use it to keep an eye out for timely topics that could make your expertise or PR pitch more appealing to press outlets.
DeSantis said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “At any given moment, it allows you to know what’s happening in the world and find trending topics that you can use and leverage to make yourself and your content more relevant to the media members you’re reaching out to.”
Keep an Eye on Pain Points
Even more specifically, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for timely issues that could lead to pain points for potential customers. Some major examples of this are seasons like tax season, where individuals may need guidance to understand their returns, or back to school season where parents need to find great deals on tons of supplies. But you can potentially use social media to find some not-so-obvious ones that could be especially relevant for your business.
Create a Calendar
In the case of holidays or seasonal topics that you can plan ahead for, DeSantis recommends creating a sort of content calendar that integrates both your PR and social media strategies. You can share holiday related posts with your online followers while also reaching out to press outlets with pitches that are related to the season. Being prepared beforehand can help you stay on top of your marketing tasks in both of these areas.
Merge Your Social, Content and PR Strategies
In fact, DeSantis says that your social media, PR, content, emails, and other marketing materials can overlap more often than not. You can create seasonal or timely campaigns that integrate all of these areas so that your marketing appears cohesive to the customers who follow along with you in multiple locations. It can also give you some opportunities for cross-promotion.
When it comes to crafting your PR strategy, DeSantis says that a common mistake she sees from businesses is the desire to jump ahead and gain press on a huge, national level right away. She instead suggests focusing on press outlets in your local community first, then moving onto publications related to your industry before moving onto bigger names. You can also use social media to connect and form relationships with local publications and people of influence within your community.
Position Yourself as an Expert
PR also offers business owners a great way to position themselves as trusted experts or thought leaders within an industry by providing commentary or tips to trusted publications or news outlets. By promoting articles or content like that on social media, you can gain even more trust among your existing followers.
Focus Your Message on Your Customers
When you’re crafting a pitch for news outlets, it’s important to focus the message more on how it can benefit readers or potential customers rather than what your business does. This approach can also make your content more appealing to followers on social media.
DeSantis says, “Look at your brand, business, and products to find some key messaging points — three or four things that represent your company as a whole that you want to talk about. This should be deeper than simply selling products. It should include how your solution can actually make an impact for your end users.”
Amplify Your Content
Once you’ve gained press coverage for your business, social media is a great way to gain more visibility for that coverage. Post links and quick descriptions of each article or piece of coverage so that more people can discover it and read about your new products, services or personal expertise.
Drive Traffic to Your Site
In some cases, these two strategies working in tandem can also help you drive more traffic to your website. When press coverage includes links to your product pages or homepage, you can direct followers to check it out after reading the article. You might even create a press page on your site that you can direct people to periodically so they can see all of what’s new with your company’s recent initiatives.
In both PR and social media, patience is a very important part of the process. Both strategies are very helpful for businesses looking to build strong foundations and gain visibility. But DeSantis cautions against business owners expecting tons of extra sales right away. It normally takes consumers a handful of times seeing or hearing about a business before they decide to purchase, so while both PR and social media are helpful in this arena, you have to stick with your strategy for a good period of time in order to see real results.
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