Creating a buzz about the goods and services your company offers, or being recognised as an innovator, is a great way of generating potential opportunities for your company. The question is, how do you spread the word about what you do without spending a fortune on advertising or hiring a PR specialist? Many small businesses simply don’t have this kind of budget but the good news is that with a little know-how – and some persistence – you can do your own PR.
Who do you want to reach?
You may already have a good idea of who you want to target your PR efforts at but don’t limit yourself to specialist sites or publications. Draw up a list of other outlets who can help spread the word about your business activities, including the local newspaper, local radio and TV and community news sites. Add contact details and a name for each outlet to your favourites so you know who to call or email when the time is right.
Don’t simply assume people will be interested in what you’re doing but ask them what sort of content they are looking for and whether they are open to suggestions. What’s the best way to get in touch and what format should you use for submitting an article or release in future? Do they work to a particular deadline or cut-off for submissions? Cultivating working relationships and networking in this way can pay off when you’ve got something to shout about.
Power of the press release
If you’re launching your business, offering a new service or product, make sure you send out a press release to your targeted recipients. A press release can be an effective PR tool but only if it is well-written and has an eye-catching title. Depending on your writing skills, you may want to hire a professional copywriter to do the job. This won’t cost a fortune and can make the difference between your release being read or consigned to the trash. If you do write the release yourself, be sure to include a quote and good quality photographs of your products and key people.
Put your ideas out there
Publishers as well as local media outlets welcome well-informed commentary or engaging articles from contributors. Think of ways you can share your expertise or experience in a particular area in an article, comment on topical business issues, or share the secrets of your own success. This can be a great way of raising your company’s profile – just make sure you have something of value to say first.
Competitions and business awards
Entering a competition and putting your business in the frame for an award can generate a lot of free publicity. Keep up to date with the latest awards and deadlines here. It goes without saying that winning an award can do wonders for your brand!
These days, you need to be social-media savvy – or have someone in the company who is – to engage with potential customers. Gaining an audience and adding followers takes time and persistence however, and also depends on what you’re putting out. Avoid simply tweeting about a new product or service and try and generate a conversation with other users. Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, and YouTube can all be used to generate PR for your business.
Shows and networking events
Taking a stand at a trade show or attending a local networking event can be a great way of spreading the word about what you do and for making useful business contacts. Depending on the size of the event, there may be a large media presence, so make sure you go equipped with plenty of business cards and brochures to hand out.
Handing out freebies at the above events can be another effective way of promoting your products, or you can post some out to reviewers on your contacts’ list. Hopefully you’ll get some good reaction, but in any case, you should always put in a follow-up call to invite feedback.
Patience and persistence
Not all your attempts at generating PR will work, what matters is that you are persistent, consistent, and patient. See it as an ongoing activity and be prepared to work at raising awareness of your brand and cultivating relationships with key individuals.