Public relations (PR) is often seen as a “nice-to-do” element of running a business, rather than an essential and embedded part of day-to-day activity. But this approach means that some businesses are missing out on some of the key benefits that good PR can provide. PR Specialist, Linzee Kottman, offers us a headline overview on how to get your small business PR-ready.
Why not just get on and do it?
Before you embark on any PR activity, you need to ensure you spend some time looking at your business plan. Any PR plan should be inextricably linked with your business goals, values and priorities to ensure you get the most value out of your efforts. Check that your business plan is up-to-date and reflects any recent changes in your industry, customer base or targets.
TIP: It’s also a good idea to nominate one person to take responsibility for your communications plan and you may need to consider some additional training to build your company’s expertise in this area.
Do your research
Knowing how you are currently viewed by your key audiences is crucial to your business’s reputation, and your image should be a reflection of your identity. Any piece of communications which emanates from your business should be in line with the values and goals of your business plan to ensure a consistent message is heard by your key audiences.
TIP: Look at previous media coverage to see how you are been positioned, ask your customers for feedback on your service or product, look on social media for any mentions of your business and analyse the content and tone. This will give you some useful insight and enable to you to develop your PR objectives.
Fail to plan; plan to fail
The Institute of Public Relations defines PR as: “the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics”. This definition highlights that PR is a carefully thought-out process which requires ongoing action to maintain. Your PR plan should utilise the intelligence gleaned from your research in the point above and be a living, breathing document which isn’t just filled away as soon as it’s complete.
TIP: While I could write a whole dissertation on how to develop an effective PR plan – some of the basics, as an instant takeaway for you, should include: overall PR aims; measurable objectives; target audiences; key messages; calendarised tactics (the PR activities themselves); and evaluation.
Get set, go
Once you have developed your plan and have managed to get the whole company on board, it’s time to put your ideas into practice. At this point, there’s a risk that with all the best intentions in the world, the plan can stall before it’s even begun. Allocate time to implementing your PR plan, ask colleagues for help, get things in motion – don’t see it as a “nice-to-do” if you get time. In today’s competitive business environment, there has never been more of a need to publicise, engage and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
TIP: If you haven’t got the resources in-house to develop and manage PR, consider speaking to a PR agency or freelancer, but make sure you get them in at the start of this process as they will be experienced in guiding businesses through this process and navigating the pitfalls to ensure you get the best value for money.
The one thing I find most overlooked by small businesses who are new to PR, is the evaluation step. This simple process is the difference between success and throwing money down the drain. Always measure and review any PR activity you embark on. And…not just at the end of the process. Evaluation should take place on an ongoing basis, just like you would keep a rigorous eye on your finances. If a particular tactic is wielding additional enquiries or sales, you may want to consider investing more time and effort into this particular activity; the same consideration applies to something not working so well.
PR done well can be an immensely rewarding task. Careful planning and management lies at the heart of that.
Our guest posts are really valuable to our readers – expanding on the foundational and growth work we do with our clients. A big thank to you to Linzee for pulling together this post to help give you, our reader, a great insight into this necessary element to raising awareness of your business.
Linzee works with our digital partners Harbour 32, where she works closely with their social media implementation team to extend the reach of their clients’ stories and content across to traditional and digital media.
Linzee Kottman is a PR Consultant with more than 15 years’ experience helping businesses and the public sector understand, embrace and benefit from public relations. You can email her or reach out to her via Facebook.