Public Relations (PR) is an effective tool to communicate your brand's message and values to an audience. For a small business, a great PR strategy can help you grow your brand's public awareness.
When it comes to a small business many decide three things:
They are too small to think about PR
They don't have enough funding
They can get by with just Social Media
This type of thinking can not be more wrong! Public Relations is needed for a company of five just as much as it does for a company of 100 or more. The difference is the level of Public Relations. In a small business having a very specific goal to meet for a certain amount of time can be more beneficial to move your brand along. Also, a small business can benefit from a strong local outreach program to create the buzz they need to grow naturally. In a local market you are more accessible to the community and their needs. Understanding your position in that community can help you build and test out many activities and make your long-term growth a more effective and strong transition.
Training a small group to assist in some way in PR allows for a company to grow as a unit. Unite your employees to understand that some of the most simple things they do can help the bottom line of the business they work for.
You are compiling the wrong media list
Starting a media list can be intimidating and keeping up a media list can be a headache! Who is your reader of the group? They are the most beneficial in staying up on the latest new blog launches, what the hot bloggers are working on and what magazines they see the brand in. Interesting enough, many owners have NO clue what types of local, national or independent publications they should be featured in. That's why your magazine, social media lover sales associate can benefit from handling the Media List.
For the employee handling this there are 5 actions for them to do: Research, Gather, Create, Connect, Network.
Research: Research the latest publications/News Outlets/Blog Sites that fit your brand's message and values....they need to have your audience!
Gather: Get names/contact/social media details of editors/bloggers/reporters that caters to your audience.
Create: The Editorial Calendar (Research the publications media kit to see the latest stories that editors are working on)
Connect: Follow the contacts on Social Media to see what the latest topics they are discussing, take notes of their personality and spark up a conversation from your brand page.
Network: We find that a lot of people on Social Media are social butterfly's. These are the people you want in the front out networking on your companies behave. Make sure you are sending them out to events that editors/bloggers are hosting or taking part of.
You don't training beyond 140 characters
Press Releases are dreadful, yes I will be honest and say it. Plus so many editors just don't read though all those long ass Press Releases! When it comes to pitching the brand there are so many different styles of writing your company can do, I've seen them all. Really quick, straight to the point, two paragraph with pictures, long drawn out pitches or simple media alerts. So many websites have these right or wrong ways to write a pinch, I've learned over the years the most important thing you can do is get to the point and get to it quickly!
What to train on: Story Angle Development/APA Style/360 Content Creation-Content that can go from Press Release to website/publication to Social Media.
You have no local outreach program
It's great to build a buzz right where you are. We forget how much customers want to experience our brand culture, they want to be apart of the brand in different ways. If you think about the brand's that fail within the 3-5 year and I would say 2-3 years many fail because of a weak local outreach program. I've seen amazing businesses startup in a location, place it on Social Media and that's it, they leave it there and hope to see customers come into their locations, show up at their events or even head to their website.
Steps to take: Brainstorm, Partner, Provide, Volunteer
Brainstorm: Brainstorm local events that your brand can be apart of. (Read our article on how to learn what events you should sponsor).
Partner: Thinking of brand value, partnering with a local charity or organization that fits your vision is a great opportunity to not only provide some assistance to an organization in need but shows you are a team player within your community.
Provide: Connect with your community by providing opportunities for them to connect with your brand personally.
Volunteer: Local events are happening everyday, volunteering helps with your company's visibility .
Your product shots suck
I can tell you from experience, teaching your employees about product shots and flat lays can go a long way! Many brand owners get upset when they are not getting press and don't realize a lot has to do with such a bad social media and photography shoots.
Training to do: Product Shots (white background)/Creative Flat Lays/Professional Shoots
Small businesses may not have the budget to pay for continuous photo shoots but this should not be a reason for you to not have what you need to make editors and bloggers love your brand.
Some brands do not get press features because the quality of their photo's are just bad. Connecting with a employee that has a great creative eye can really help you keep your social media, press material and website looking fresh!
Purchase or build a white box for your shots: Photographs with white backgrounds really help with editors/bloggers who are doing roundups/slideshows, etc. They can place those in and keep going.
FlatLays should be your focus for the website and social media. Everyone loves pretty visuals! Stick to items that fits your brands culture and products.
Your team doesn't know how to respond to press
Every team member should know
The company's current focus
What products you have and facts about them
The latest happenings and news in the business
Sending someone out to network on the behalf of your brand and they are asked about a specific product, the worst is for them to sound like they don't know what they are talking about, missed press or blogger feature!
Press request email comes in, how do they respond and what information do they send back to make sure they lock in that feature?
Answering business related questions on topics regarding the industry.
For a small business EVERYONE needs to know how to respond to the press! When employees are scrolling the Instagram/Twitter and they see requests for Holiday features. They should know how to construct the emails, what press materials are sent for that.
One way to make sure that your team know and understand how they can help with PRESS is to host PR meetings with your team! In these meetings you should be making aware the type of press and opportunities the company is looking for, the latest campaign materials or any update press materials and any information the team may be working on.