Small business and start-up professionals wear many hats. You manage the budget, payroll, inventory, website, social media channels, marketing campaigns – and more – all while overseeing your team and providing top-notch customer service. So it’s no surprise that public relations may be pushed to the back burner.
With everything else you have going on, why is PR for your startup venture worth being a priority? Generating a positive public image for your business helps build brand recognition, establish you in your community, and generate buzz, all leading to more customers through your door – whether that’s in-person or online. Here are six PR tips to help you get started.
1. Define your story and do some planning.
Whether you hire a small business PR agency or go it alone, you'll always want to start by defining your story. Why did you start your business? What keeps you motivated? Taking the time to write your story will help you create a media kit – a package of information about your business that can be easily shared with the press. Be authentic and relatable. In addition to information about you and your business, your media kit can also include your company logo, headshots, product photos, and links to your website.
Additionally, make a marketing plan for your business and layer in a PR plan. Are you launching new products or services this year? What campaigns are you running? Are you celebrating any milestones? Do you plan to present at any conferences or have a booth at an upcoming trade show? Map out your timeline and consider how you’ll communicate these events to the public.
2. Develop relationships with the media.
With your media kit ready, start forming relationships with reporters and influencers in your industry to build a media list. How do you find these contacts? Search online media databases and social media sites. Look at your competitors’ news coverage – who wrote the articles? As you research reporters, pay attention to the topics they’re writing about and their interests. These should align with your story and the interests of your target audience.
We also recommend Muck Rack, a comprehensive and intuitive platform that allows you to search for journalists and learn their preferences.
Check out our list of 32 media relations tips to learn more about catching a reporter’s attention and securing coverage.
3. Start writing press releases and sharing pitches.
A press release is an announcement of a newsworthy event you want to share with the media with the intention of having it shared with a broader audience through various outlets and formats. A media pitch is a more concise and direct explanation of your news used in outreach to journalists with the goal of coverage being written based on your press release.
The key with both press releases and pitches is to be newsworthy. How are you benefiting your customers or community? What service are you providing? How does your news impact your target audience? Why should they care? If you have any data to share, that’s always compelling information for media and audiences.
There are several methods to share your news at your fingertips. See how working with a newswire, like Business Wire, can further support and amplify your press releases.
4. Be digitally active.
Create social media channels if you don’t already have them and utilize these to share your news. Use social media to also build relationships with your customers, other businesses in your community, media, and influencers.
Write and share thought leadership pieces, research, and guest blog posts. These help build brand awareness and position you as an expert in your industry.
Google Alerts, a free service, is easy to set up and use to your advantage. Create alerts based on your business name and other relevant terms and you’ll receive emails with links to any online content (web pages, articles, blog posts) that mention these terms.
5. Get involved in the community.
Hold an event – a workshop, demo, ribbon cutting – at your space. Speak at a community event or function. Host a fundraising event for a charity, donate goods, or hold a food drive. By becoming more involved in your community, you’ll grow your network, including members of the media. Garnering community support will also spark word-of-mouth marketing for your small business. There’s nothing more valuable than testimonials.
6. Stay agile and keep learning.
Remember to stay open-minded and don’t be afraid to test. Trying different pitch methods, writing different press release headlines, speaking or participating at different events…all of these provide you with valuable knowledge.
Data is precious. In addition to keeping track of metrics related to advertising, email and social media campaigns, and more, be sure to track your press release results. How many visitors came to your website? How many filled out a form, downloaded content, or completed a transaction? This data will help you learn what worked and where to pivot.
Releases distributed by Business Wire include NewsTrak Reports which provide you with insights about the performance of your press release and how your audience engaged with it.
Sound overwhelming? Keep in mind that there are PR agencies that work with clients of all sizes, or you can always utilize a newswire. (We’re here to help!) Learn more in our blog series outlining seven reasons to work with a newswire.
If you’re a start-up, take a look at our initial public offering communication services. We understand the critical and time-sensitive nature of IPO news, and we’ll ensure you meet all regulatory disclosure requirements.
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