Public Relations for Small Business
This week I am so pleased to bring you an article from PR Coach and Expert, Katie Maynes. Katie is a wealth of information when it comes to getting your name and business out there to the media. And perhaps more importantly, how to overcome your fears in being featured. Here Katie answers the Top 5 Questions she gets about PR… and it’s full of gold. Enjoy!
I may be biased but I strongly believe in the power of Public Relations (PR). PR is an incredible way to make a small business visible, build its credibility and influence its audience. There is no better or cost effective way to amplify your message than through PR.
Public Relations for Small Business has changed dramatically in the last decade with the digital media revolution and huge changes to traditional media. But the definition of PR remains the same – effective communication between a business and its public. Effective communication motivates an individual or group to a specific course of action by creating, changing or reinforcing opinions and attitudes.
These days a business’ public is as diverse as the ways that a message can be communicated. It includes traditional and online media, customers, investors, employees, suppliers, distributors, social media networks and the government. Your message and the public you wish to target will determine your tactics for reaching this audience. My focus is media relations, one of the most popular and effective PR tactics.
In my PR coaching and consulting practice, I work with many small business owners who want to use PR as a means of telling their story through the media. Here are the five most common questions I am asked:
How does PR differ to marketing and should it be done independently?
Keeping it simple PR supports sales, marketing and the overall business positioning to both an internal and external audience, this includes customers, potential customers and all stakeholders. Marketing predominately supports sales; it is the process of getting a product or service from a business to its end customer.
PR and marketing are at their best when they complement each other. I feel PR works most effectively when the marketing fundamentals are in place to ensure the right messages are communicated at the right time to the right audience.
Can I do my own Public Relations for Small Business or should I engage a PR Professional?
If I had been asked this question 10 years ago I would have given a very different answer. Back then I would have said always. However, times are changing and there has never been an easier time to self-publish. There are now so many opportunities where business owners can contribute their own feature articles and opinion pieces to predominantly online publications. It is sometimes as easy as finding the submissions page on your favourite publications, abiding by the criteria and clicking submit.
One thing hasn’t changed and that is there are no guarantees your story will be published. When it comes to feature articles it’s best to do your research and engage a PR Coach to ensure your content is newsworthy and suitable for publication. This is something you should think about if you want to position yourself as an expert to the media (we will discuss this further in question 5).
There are now services available such as Source Bottle in Australia and HERO in the US where you can sign up and receive alerts from journalists who are looking for particular stories in your business area. If you have the correct materials (such as a media kit, a media page on your website and high-resolution images) you can pursue these opportunities yourself.
When it comes to large PR campaigns I would always advise engaging a PR professional. Media relations is time-consuming and you have a much better chance of being featured if you can leverage the media contacts of a professional.
What is the difference between a media release and a media kit?
Both a media release and a media kit are tools used to distribute information and your story to the media. The media release tells your story in a one-page document. It has a particular format that the media are familiar with and helps sell the story to journalists as well as provides information for them if they decide to pursue the story.
If you are doing a large PR campaign you will compile a media kit. A kit usually comprises of a media release, business fact sheet, backgrounder, bio and digital photography. Most media kits these days are digital and emailed to media.
How do I create newsworthy content?
Every business has a great story to tell. I always tell my clients to think about their ‘why’ first, this helps determine the stories they want to share. If you think about the reasons why you want to be featured in the media it helps you come up with the relevant content. It also helps if you know what sort of stories the media you are targeting are drawn to. Are they after feel good stories or solid information and facts?
Another good tactic is to utilise topical news that the media is interested in at the time or make the most of holidays or themed weeks where you know media will be looking for content on a particular topic. For example, the media are currently on the lookout for Christmas wish list stories so if you are a product based business it is a good time to be approaching them with Christmas present ideas.
How can I position myself as an expert in my field?
These days helping clients position themselves as an expert or thought leader in their field forms a big part of PR. It is an effective way to become recognised by both the media and then subsequently your audience as the go-to person to lead discussions on your particular area. Some of the tips I give to my clients around this area are:
- Know your niche – the more niche you are the more appealing you will be to media.
- Be your authentic self – it is obvious and not sustainable when people aren’t their true selves when speaking to the media. People are drawn to those who are confident enough to be their unique selves quirks and all.
- Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion – obviously, you need to do this within boundaries as you don’t want to offend your audience or be featured in the media for the wrong reasons, but if you have a strong view about something and reasons to back this up don’t be afraid to speak up.
- Be curious about your particular area, read and listen to as much as you can on the topic so you are always on top of the latest news and trends.
- Write content that focuses on your industry as a whole.
- One of the best ways to gain credible visibility and recognition of your ideas is to submit contributor and opinion pieces to target media publications that showcases your knowledge and viewpoints on your industry.
Katie Maynes is a PR specialist and trained coach. Through her coaching service and consulting she combines her 16 years in PR with her training as a Life Coach to help passionate business owners who are spotlight shy understand PR, find their unique voice and feel empowered to use it. She loves guiding and helping her clients to feature in the media.
Facebook and IG: @katiemaynes