Got a Small Business?
Here’s how you can benefit from PR
It’s small business week (or month, if you ask some companies). It got us thinking about what’s unique about small businesses and their need for PR. Seems like, the only real difference is the budget allocated to something that’s so hard to measure. Because what triggers a business’s need for PR is their need for either increased awareness, a polished reputation or more productive relationships – internally and externally alike.
Public relations and how it is used has morphed over the past thirty years. While once the domain of corporations, the breadth of businesses that utilize PR has spread dramatically. There is much that will benefit small businesses – and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here’s my list of “must haves” for any startup or small business:
- Your Message. So many companies fail, or fail to thrive, in the first five years. And quite often it’s because they don’t communicate about themselves very clearly. Customers don’t know what you can do for them, or how to take advantage of your offerings. They’re not sure what differentiates you from the other shop down the street.
It’s really very difficult to come up with messaging on your own. And while mentors can help get you started, but you’ll likely need someone to challenge you. We recommend connecting with resources in your community that have been through this. Later in this blog we’ll list a few for you. If you want to refresh something you already have, The Muse offers some great tips.
- Your Audience. If you haven’t figured out just who you are selling to, you’ll have a hard time getting them to your door. Individualism is the watchword of the 21st century; find a way to reach the individual who needs your solution. Know their needs and pain points, their problems, desires and behaviors to match and effectively present your offering to your target customers.
The good news is that the first step in analyzing your audience may be talking to current customers. It’s always good to touch customers, and most enjoy helping you succeed. Some basic questions might be:
How did you find us? Why did you choose us? Was there a particular problem we helped you solve? Where else did you look to solve that problem? What is it about us that appeals to you? Or that you wish were different?
- Your Story. Everyone loves stories. Luckily for us at FluentPR, stories are at the core of all public relations. Stories are a great way to make a solid and memorable impression on your audience, and storytelling is so pervasive that it’s expected. Creating a story doesn’t come easily for everyone. Lucky for you, there are great ways to find out what stories exist in your business. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
- Think of 3 different interesting times in your business. Like, how did you decide to start the business – what was going on in your life that compelled you to make the jump? Or, what was your first employee like? Did you have a particularly interesting product launch?
- What outside interests do you support? For example, is there a non-profit you regularly support? Any boards on which you or your team serves? If so, how does this experience impact your business. There’s a story in there somewhere…
- Where did you decide to locate? Where you work and what you surround yourself with can be a great story.
On these three items you can build all sorts of successful PR strategies. Media relations? It comes down to the story, the audience and the message. Events? Well, that’s a story in the making, and knowing your audience and the take-away message will make for the best foundation. Social media? Totally the story – and mostly in pictures.
Resources: Most communities offer free resources for small businesses, and often there’s a volunteer who can help you get your message, audience and story clear. Many we turn to here in the Wilmington area include:
- Cape Fear Community College Small Business Center
- The mentor program at UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- The SBTDC– Small Business and Technology Development Center
- SCORE – the nation’s larges network of volunteer expert business mentors.
If there’s ever any way we can be of help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We love this stuff.