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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.