Special to the State Gazette
Public relations is a great way for a small business to raise awareness. But when business owners put together marketing plans, they usually think advertising, not public relations.
Why? We see advertising everywhere we look. It's top of mind. Not a lot of thought goes into the fact that PR drives many of the articles you read or stories you see on the evening news.
The benefit of PR can often outweigh traditional advertising. You're much more likely to look at a product or service differently if you read about it in the news, over seeing it in an advertisement where you know it's self-promotion.
A recent study by Nielsen showed that PR is 88 % more effective than advertising. That's not to say that advertising does not serve a purpose. But from a budgetary standpoint, PR can often achieve the desired results quicker and for less money than an advertising campaign.
Because of the need for PR to be in tune with your brand and your target customers, you need to conduct thorough planning and research into your audience. You should also have clearly defined business goals already in place that are based on a solid marketing plan.
You also need to have relationships with members of the media. They need to know you are a source they can trust with newsworthy information. You can work to build those relationships or choose an agency that has those existing relationships to help with any PR needs that arise.
Once that foundation is there, some possibilities for building publicity include sending out press releases, holding an event, creating brand ambassadors out of your loyal customers, sponsoring events within your industry or in your community and public speaking.
If you want news outlets to cover your company, you need to find something in your story that resonates with the public. For example, it's not news that you have the newest lawn service in town with the lowest prices. What can be newsworthy and what makes you more credible would be if you could speak as an expert about an insect that is killing plants in the area or offer money-saving tips on how to prepare your yard for winter. Find something that resonates with the public.
And if you get coverage on TV or in the paper, that's great, but that's not where PR stops. Share it on social media, your blog or your website. Talk about it with your customers. Promote it anyway you can. You get many more eyes on that story and your product or service than you ever would have with just the one news story, so the initial effect is multiplied several times over.
Charles Vance, account strategist at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.