Importance of public relations for small businesses
Understanding the importance of Public Relations in business promotion can be difficult, particularly for start-ups or small businesses with major competitors who might find it daunting trying to build brand awareness via media coverage.
There are many benefits of successful Public Relations for your business, including expanding your client base, making the most of your budget and of course, generating brand trust and boosting your business’ reputation.
Why is Public Relations important?
Sometimes people question ‘what is Public Relations in business?’ or ‘do I really need Public Relations?’. The short answer is yes.
Our Communications Director Clare Christensen has outlined a few reasons why Public Relations in small businesses is important.
Build strong relationships with your audience
The key to successful Public Relations is relationship building. Small businesses, particularly start-ups, need to build a strong relationship between their company and a wider audience – customers are likely to return if they feel they have a connection with the brand, and will help spread the word about your product or service.
Media coverage which targets separate markets (for example business media compared with consumer publications) helps to put companies top of mind.
Social media, e-newsletters and internal blogs are great ways to connect directly with your target market.
“Try tailoring your message to a specific target group, sharing common interests and communicating with them directly to build trust,” Clare said.
“Make sure you tailor your messaging and content for different platforms – what you write for a business themed media release might not be appropriate for your company’s Facebook page, for example.”
Build brand credibility
Mainstream media coverage leads to a “halo effect” where potential stakeholders become interested in your company as your profile is boosted. News coverage also acts to endorse and promote a brand as it is seen as a more objective source than advertising or marketing.
Similar to building relationships with your audience, having a strong relationship with journalists and the media is vital in helping to get coverage and helping to maintain a positive reputation.
“Having connections with journalists can mean the difference between your story being covered or not,” Clare said.
Ensure you provide newsworthy stories that are relevant to the journalists you pitch to and get them what they need in a timely manner, to maintain a healthy relationship.
“Reach out and expand your network of media contacts while making sure to check which topics a journalist might cover – you wouldn’t pitch an entertainment story to a finance reporter, and your conversion rate for gaining coverage is much higher if you can tailor it to a specific individual.
“Having these positive relationships is particularly important in times of crisis for your company.”
Stakeholders and audiences can lose interest very quickly, so you need to find newsworthy angles for your business to stay in the media, and stay in the public’s mind.
A great way to stay relevant is to think about what’s newsworthy in different areas. What’s a local angle? What target market might not have heard from you?
Tools including Video News Releases (VNRs) are particularly useful for gaining coverage in regional, national or international markets as the content can be localised, and sent further afield.
“VNRs help meet the parochial demands of newsrooms in specific areas,” Clare said.
“If you have an event or media call in a major city but you’re discussing something which could be of interest to regional viewers, include ‘grabs’ or quotes mentioning particular towns and send the VNR to those regions.
“The end result will likely be coverage in key regional areas as well as major metro markets, spreading your brand awareness near and far.”