In today’s world, there are a lot of ideas on how to infuse Public Relations activities into a broader Communications plan.
Having worked with various clients and industries, both big and small, we’ve brainstormed PR tactics that are manageable. Here I’d like to drill it down more to focus solely on PR marketing for small businesses.
The most important thing to remember about PR is that it’s not always meant to drive immediate results. Yes, the PR plan should have target audiences and some measurables like web traffic, social media metrics, etc., but don’t dismiss PR strategies that are not necessarily lead-generating activities.
We have utilized PR-related activities for organizing school fund drives, working with local non-profit charities and radio-a-thons. We didn’t use those events to make a hard sales pitch or even to gather leads. It was about building the brand within the community and establishing relationships with key influencers – journalists, social media influencers, community members and more.
Distinguish PR’s role in a business plan by giving it its own set of objectives. These objectives should be measurable and support the larger objectives, but stay within the function of public relations. The approach is about synchronizing marketing activities, and recognizing the different roles that each have in the overall plan.
The role of PR is to build relationships and promote brand visibility, but as part of an integrated effort. PR will also help to increase the impact of other marketing plan activities such as a direct mail or mobile marketing campaign.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Today, online strategies like content marketing and social media can be tailored to support traditional PR tactics that extend into the local community. Here are 5 of the ways Public Relations Can Help Your Small Businesses:
- Networking. Take the pain out of professional networking by skipping the general mixers and honing in on trade organizations or niche groups in your industry or the industries you serve. You’ll find more immediate value by interacting with people who you knoware within your target market or by extracting some professional development out of the event. Be sure to pull new offline contacts into your online strategy. Connect with them through social media or invite them to follow your blog or sign-up for your email newsletter; you can extend your online reach to a more local level.
- Charitable Giving. Charitable initiatives don’t have to be limited to just large corporate sponsorships. Small businesses can support local non-profits by volunteering at events, joining planning committees, or forming teams to raise funds. Explore opportunities to provide in-kind donations to groups as well. Form online connections by interacting with the non-profit and other local supporters, helping to spread the word through social media mentions, and covering the event in your own blog or newsletter.
- Community Events. Local festivals, workshops, and other non-charitable events may also offer ways to support your community while promoting your business. The range of relevant events for your business may be quite extensive. Link the offline to your online world by using the same strategies here as you would for networking and/or non-profit events.
- Get Creative! “Think outside the box” for additional ways to boost your localized public relations efforts. The most creative ideas may be tactics inherent to a particular industry, e.g., food and beverage…nutritional events and organizations, partnering with mommy groups in the community or social organizations specific to your trade. When you create your own event, lead the online conversation by engaging target audiences, providing details and regular updates, forming original hashtags, and generating buzz leading up to and following the event.
- Get Covered! Finally, look for the best opportunities to issue press releases to generate media coverage and general awareness for your business and PR efforts. Especially for small businesses, the most newsworthy events are those that offer some benefit or informative value to audiences.