To implement public relations—commonly referenced as PR—into your business, it’s first important to understand exactly what PR is. The Public Relations Society of America defines it as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Essentially, PR is the act of crafting and presenting the story of your business to the public as well as potential partners. It is an integral part of growing a business and maintaining your reputation as a brand.
Why should PR matter to a small business owner?
Whether you’re just starting your business or have been growing for several years, having your brand stand out among the competition is crucial. For most companies, what sets them apart is their unique brand identity and voice. An effective PR campaign creates positive brand awareness and genuine, positive conversation about your business. When it comes to creating a PR strategy as a business owner, you can consider hiring a PR professional or agency, or there are tactics that you can implement on your own when starting out.
Here are three ways to increase your brand recognition and media presence as a small business.
1. Craft a brand story
The foundation of strong PR is based on a finely crafted story that helps the public understand who you are and what your business and customers mean to you. Share your story online and in person. Consider touching on these points:
What inspired you to start this business?
What does this business mean to you?
What do your customers mean to you?
Is it a family business?
Is it a skill passed down through generations?
How do you support your staff and community?
A well-crafted story draws media attention, reporters, and bloggers looking for a story to tell their own audience which leads to increased recognition for your business.
2. Participate in community events
Community events are a great way to connect and interact directly with customers. It’s a fantastic way to support the community and get the word about your business. Start by researching events that take place in your area and reach out to find out how you can participate or even sponsor the event. These events could range from charity fundraisers to holiday markets—just be sure that the event type aligns with your brand, target audience, and values. When you put yourself out in the public eye, you also have a higher chance of being featured in third-party newsletters, local publications and blogs, and on social media.
There’s also been an increase in virtual events and panels. If it makes sense for your business to reach an audience outside of your geographical location, consider attending and speaking at these online events to reach a wider audience. This is especially helpful if you have shippable products that can be distributed nationwide.
3. Grow your social media presence and connect with your target audience
Social media has bridged the gap between business and customer. Before it, the only way for a customer to learn about a brand was through paid media or a publicist. Now there are many online platforms to choose from, and you can generate your own publicity by implementing a strategic social media plan. Consistently post and engage with your target audience where they prefer to consume content. Tell your story and share your community efforts on your social media in real time and in the way you want it to be heard. Infusing your brand story into your online communications helps you connect with potential customers and partners on a more personal level. This also gives you the chance to be reposted by your followers and community groups.
These communications are most effective when you deliver consistent brand identity and voice. This means using specific vocabulary, tone, brand colors, and visual elements across all platforms.
The value of running a PR campaign
Well-done PR can gain more recognition than an expensive marketing plan and often leaves a more lasting impression on potential customers. It can also lead to increased trust and connection with your brand. There is no “right” way of doing public relations, so it’s best to jump right in, do thorough research, and give it a try. Find reputable sources to help you write your first press release, pitch letter, or media alert that will get your name out in front of customers.
About the author
Michelle Lam was a financial public relations’ communication publicist and strategist. She specialized in brand management, media, crisis communication, and social media marketing. Her versatility carried into the tourism market in raising awareness in South America, which resulted in winning the PRSA’s Reputation & Brand Management (2014) award.
Michelle launched Bklynite Media in 2019, providing public relations and social media services. She has over 14 years of public relations services and was born and raised in the hospitality industry.