There is one big mistake small businesses owners are making when it comes to public relations: They think they're “too small” to need it.
But the truth is that public relations is a total game-changer for small businesses.
In honor of "National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day" this month (Mar. 29), let’s take a look at three ways PR is helping small businesses make big waves.
1. It increases their credibility.
Small businesses are too often overlooked in favor of larger companies. But small business owners are passionate experts in their respective industries. The question is how can they leverage their expertise to get publicity for their companies?
I once spoke with a man who wanted to bring attention to an event space that he purchased in a metropolitan city. We began brainstorming ways to pitch it to various outlets, and throughout our discussion, he was dropping gems here and there about how to know a property is a good investment.
We learned a lot within our hour together and I soon realized he was quite knowledgeable about property investment. It was then that we determined that his expertise could be used to indirectly gain attention for his new properties, and immediately began thinking of ways we could get him featured as a recurring expert on morning television and radio shows. His success would be found not in single one-off pitches for his new property—instead, he needed to be positioned as a go-to expert. Naturally, it would bring publicity to his event space.
When people see someone being interviewed by a journalist, it IMMEDIATELY increases that person's credibility and elevates them to an authority figure in their field.
We encourage business owners to look for creative ways to share their knowledge, whether it’s through leading workshops, giving quotes to reporters to use in their stories about developing news and trends, and speaking on panels.
They can even use social media in this way, demonstrating their knowledge about a particular industry. Business owner, instead of making posts that highlight a product or services (sales), be helpful with how-to’s tutorials, “did-you-know’s” and tips. Create content that has value, and customers will want to use your business because they trust that the business owner is an expert (which you are!).
2. It separates them from everyone else.
Dear business owner, if you are working in an industry with a lot of competition, it’s critical that you be remarkably different from others.
Let’s say you own a coffee shop in a trendy part of town. If we’re being honest, there are LOTS of those. The average person likely doesn’t have much loyalty to other shops and is making their selection based on factors like price and proximity. By they are willing to abandon each of these if they find a place that they love (because of its cause, customer service, or product).
How do you let people know that you exist AND convince them that you are worth a visit?
Securing features on the news, getting write-ups in digital magazines, having stellar word-of mouth—it all works to keep you “top of mind” when customers begin making decisions. And since the object of good PR is to make people know, like, and trust your brand, it can do a lot to differentiate you from your competitors.
3. Good PR is FREE. And for small business owners, that's important.
For many small businesses, there is a need to be especially mindful of resources. Unlike larger companies, budgets are smaller and every dime must be accounted for. This means that when it comes to advertising, many business owners have to be selective in how they spend.
It’s a good thing PR is free.
We refer to public relations as the “earned media” portion of your overall marketing and branding efforts. Sure, it requires a little time to identify the right journalists and crafting a strong pitch. But it’s worth it because:
1. It costs nothing.
2. You can use the press you get forever.
3. It could have better ROI than an advertisement. (Unlike social media that evaporate once they’ve run, digital PR stays put. Plus, when your link appears in various news write-ups, it contributes greatly to your SEO.)
Public relations is not just for big companies. It’s for the small business owners working to elevate their brands and serve their communities. If your goal is to increase your awareness and traffic to your business, begin thinking of a PR strategy today.