Develop a Public Relations Strategy to Promote Your Small Business

public relations guide for small businesses

Running a small business is by no means an easy task, especially when you are just getting started – you have limited time, resources, and budget, all while trying to get things done in order to create more awareness and grow your brand. Nonetheless, it is crucial to get your company name out there as much as possible to generate a customer pipeline and have steady incoming revenue. So, the question becomes: What’s the best way to get started?

PR, or Public Relations, is more essential than ever for small businesses to grow in 2021, and it doesn’t have to be super complicated or costly. Below outlines several of the most basic ways to kick off your small business’s PR and get people buzzing about your brand.

Developing a Public Relations Strategy for Small Business Success

Embarking on the journey of running a small business is challenging, especially in its initial stages. Limited resources, time, and budget make the task of creating brand awareness and achieving growth even more daunting. Public Relations (PR), an often-underutilized tool, emerges as a crucial strategy for small businesses in this competitive landscape.

PR is about more than just gaining media exposure; it involves establishing a meaningful connection with your audience and effectively managing your brand’s public image. A well-planned PR strategy can be a game-changer, offering cost-effective solutions for generating customer interest and building a steady revenue stream. It encompasses various facets, from crafting impactful press releases to fostering brand values and identity.

Understanding the essence of PR and implementing its core principles—authentic storytelling, brand consistency, and building trust—can set the foundation for your business’s success and long-term growth.

Master the Lowest Hanging Fruit: Write and Publish a Press Release

How a Press Release Works

First and foremost, releasing a press release with newsworthy information surrounding your small business is considered a low-hanging fruit in the PR industry. A press release (also frequently called a “news release” or “media release”) is an official announcement from your company for reporters, media companies, and journalists. It’s most often a one or two-pager that highlights a new advancement or milestone related to your business. This can range from anything like a product launch, successful funding round, latest research report or publication, or a new business partnership. The goal is to put out an official statement from your small business that will get the attention of relevant media outlets and journalists who can then use it in their publications, stories and social media. In other words, the target audience of your press releases are journalists, not your customers. If your PR is extra newsworthy, reporters from well-known publications will cover it in their stories, giving you the exposure and buzz your small business needs.

Public Relations Strategy

How to Write a Press Release

Now, let’s get to how to write a press release from scratch. If you don’t have a designated PR team or agency, you’ll have to learn how to write a press release yourself. If you want to go about it yourself, make sure to take a look at a good amount of press release examples to grasp what a good press release looks like.

Perhaps the most important items include making sure you have a compelling headline and formatting your press release for easy skimming. Journalists get hundreds of PRs every day from various sources, so it’s crucial to get that headline right to ensure your release is even opened.

Keep the following formatting tips top of mind to find success:

  • Write in short paragraphs of 2-3 lines at max
  • Try limiting your press release to 5 paragraphs
  • Include original quotes in the body text
  • Use bulleted lists where applicable
  • Include a relevant image, chart, or screenshot
  • Write on behalf of your company in a third-person voice

Writing a press release for your small business shouldn’t necessarily be as confusing or arduous as you might think. If you follow the instructions outlined above and dig into some well written press release examples, you will be able to stand out from the crowd and gain valuable media coverage and traction for your brand.

Public Relations Strategy

Make Sure your PR Strategy Tells a Story and is Relatable

Everything you say and do in the world is considered public relations. After all, public relations is, in its simplest form, the craft of engaging the public through different media outlets and influencing opinion. However, that doesn’t mean you should simply put everything that you are feeling out there for the public to critique, regardless if it is strictly about your small business or more personal thoughts. Being connected with the people and being humble should be a top priority for every CEO, founder and startup.

In short, make sure your PR strategy is truthful, timely, and follows a story-telling narrative. People are keener to become loyal to your small business’ products and/or services if they feel they can relate to your brand and the messaging you are putting out there for the world to read. When done correctly, PR can be a critical element of your marketing and overall business strategy. At the end of the day, public relations experts are essentially professional storytellers – they are constantly on the hunt to find positive messages about your products or brand, and they are looking for story ideas to help generate positive press and public feedback.

Public Relations Strategy

Always Promote Your Brand Values and Image to Create Trust

When you are first starting out, another important aspect of public relations is creating brand recognition and instilling trust within your audience. Brand consistency is how your small business will deliver messages aligned with your core values, customer experience, and brand identity and promise factors. It refers to how “on-brand” your company’s public relations and marketing content is with respect to your overall brand identity and guidelines. Promoting brand consistency will make sure that your brand is easily recognizable across all marketing channels and PR touchpoints. This will ultimately foster a cohesive and consistent brand identity, which will result in a unified experience for both existing and potential customers.

Liana Zavo, the founder & CEO of ZavoMedia Group, a NYC-based full-service public relations and digital marketing agency, did a recent interview with Forbes about PR tips for small businesses that gained a lot of attention. Perhaps one of her most crucial points in the interview was the following:

“I believe the most vital element that a brand should obtain from the target audience is trust. Without trust, it’s harder to attain an increase in exposure and following. The lack of credibility can eventually lead to failure for the brand to grow and loss of sales. Public relations can help bridge the gap between the business and the target consumers through video marketing, thought leadership pieces, specialized events and more.”

To Liana Zavo’s point, customers tend to gravitate towards brands that are relatable and encourage their employees to promote the company’s brand values, message, and story. This helps small businesses portray a more professional image to current clients and potential customers. In order to be brand consistent, it’s important for your employees to represent the brand’s core values no matter what their role in the company may be.

Public Relations Strategy

Building a Strong Foundation: Public Relations Strategies for Small Businesses

Running a small business is a challenging endeavor, particularly during the early stages. With limited time, resources, and budget, establishing brand awareness and growth can be a daunting task. However, effective Public Relations (PR) strategies can significantly aid in achieving these goals without extravagant costs. Below are fundamental approaches to initiate PR efforts that will generate buzz around your small business:

  • Master the Art of Press Releases:
    • Press Release Mechanics: A press release serves as a formal announcement aimed at journalists and media outlets. It highlights significant milestones or advancements related to your business, such as product launches, funding rounds, research reports, or partnerships. The goal is to capture media attention and secure coverage from reputable publications, fostering exposure.
    • Effective Writing: Craft a compelling headline and format your release for easy scanning. Given the volume of press releases journalists receive, a captivating headline is essential to ensure your release is even opened.
    • Format Tips: Utilize short paragraphs, limit the release to around five paragraphs, incorporate original quotes, employ bulleted lists when relevant, and include visuals like images or charts. Write in the third person to maintain professionalism.
  • Strategic Storytelling:
    • Engage and Influence: PR involves engaging the public through diverse media outlets to shape opinions. Yet, exercising caution is key – not everything should be shared. Prioritize authenticity, timeliness, and a narrative approach.
    • Relatable Messaging: Connect with your audience by crafting a PR strategy that tells a story. People gravitate toward brands they can relate to. Authenticity fosters customer loyalty and trust, making storytelling an indispensable element of PR and overall business strategy.
    • Professional Storytellers: PR experts serve as professional storytellers, seeking positive narratives about your brand or products to generate favorable press and public feedback.
  • Cultivating Trust and Brand Identity:
    • Brand Consistency: Establishing trust and brand recognition is paramount for a fledgling business. Brand consistency involves aligning PR and marketing content with core values, ensuring uniformity across all touchpoints.
    • Promoting Trust: Trust is pivotal for growth and sales. Encourage employees to embody brand values and message, enhancing the company’s credibility and fostering connections with customers.
    • Expert Insight: Industry leaders emphasize the role of trust in brand success. Public relations bridges the gap between businesses and consumers through strategies like video marketing, thought leadership pieces, and specialized events.
PR StrategyDescriptionKey BenefitsImplementation Steps
Mastering Press ReleasesUtilize press releases to announce significant business advancements. Craft compelling headlines and use proper formatting.Gain media attention, secure coverage from reputable publications, create exposure.Write a newsworthy release, focus on a captivating headline, use proper formatting.
Strategic StorytellingDevelop a PR strategy that tells a relatable story, engaging the audience and shaping opinions.Foster customer loyalty, build brand authenticity, enhance trust.Craft a narrative approach, prioritize authenticity and timeliness.
Cultivating Trust and Brand IdentityMaintain brand consistency by aligning PR and marketing content with core values. Encourage employees to embody brand message.Establish trust, enhance brand recognition, create a cohesive identity.Promote brand values, ensure consistency in PR and marketing materials, encourage employee involvement.
Expert InsightIndustry leaders emphasize the role of trust in brand success. Leverage strategies like video marketing and thought leadership pieces.Bridge the gap between business and consumers, enhance credibility.Utilize video marketing, create thought leadership content, host specialized events.

Incorporating these PR strategies is a pathway to success, although executing them requires meticulous planning and dedication. While external PR firms become valuable as the business matures, comprehending the significance of trust-building in marketing is vital, even for early-stage businesses. Understand your audience, conduct thorough research, and forge meaningful customer connections to lay the groundwork for success.

The Takeaway

These PR strategies outlined are the ticket to success, but how to actually make them happen involves careful planning and a lot of work. Many hire an outside PR firm that specializes in brand image and publicity once the business is profitable, but if you’re not there yet, simply understanding the importance of building trust through your marketing can ensure that you are on the right path. Know your audience, do your research, and create a connection with your customers, and you’ll be on your way.

Image: Depositphotos

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Itai Elizur Itai Elizur is the COO at InboundJunction, a content marketing agency specializing in helping B2B and SaaS companies to increase their online visibility. Itai has worked with some of the biggest tech companies in Israel, helping them develop and optimize large-scale user acquisition strategies through content, brand messaging and marketing automation.