Business development 17 November 2015

How to start securing coverage for your business and stay clear of PR failures

A classic PR fail is when a business assumes that what is hold-the-front-page news to them, will be of interest to the general public, or indeed the media
A classic PR fail is when a business assumes that what is hold-the-front-page news to them, will be of interest to the general public, or indeed the media

The director of HK Communications explains why all micro firms need to be thinking about PR, the common missteps to avoid and how to get the media interested in your business.

Many small businesses assume that PR is a luxury service and the reserve of big brands with big budgets. However, in an increasingly crowded market – with small firms accounting for over 90 per cent of businesses in the private sector – your business needs to stand out from your competitors.

But where do you start when it comes to PR, and how can you create an effective strategy on a tight budget? Here are five tips to get yourself in a good position early on for securing media coverage for your business.

(1) Establish your target media

You know your core audience, so now you need to understand what media they are consuming. For example, if you supply building products throughout the UK, your customers and peers will be reading the B2B trade titles and the building press.

If your business is selling handmade jewellery online, your ideal customer may be scouring Etsy in search of unusual finds, and will probably be on social media platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram, as well as reading women’s magazines. Knowing how your audience gets information is the first step to producing targeted PR.

(2) Find the stories of interest

A classic PR fail is when a business assumes that what is hold-the-front-page news to them, will be of interest to the general public, or media. For example, installing a new piece of software that will improve internal processes won’t make the news unless it’s got tangible benefits to your customer. So look at what is often reported in your target media.

As a very general rule, nationals will only cover UK or world firsts, trade titles will go into detail about products and services, the business press will be interested in growth and numbers and regionals will want know what’s going on in their area.

Halima Khutan advises caution when it comes to social media – bad news travels fast
Halima Khutan advises caution when it comes to social media – bad news travels fast

(3) Gather some great case studies

It’s no good for you to just bang on about how great your business is. You want your customers to do it for you. A positive client endorsement is worth its weight in gold, and the media are much more likely to cover your story if there is an actual case study that can verify your offering.

So ask your happy clients if they’ll share their story. If you’re in the B2B sector, your project is your case study, so share with the media what is new, interesting or challenging about it.

(4) Be careful with social media

The emergence of digital media has meant that businesses now have even more platforms to make themselves heard and create some positive PR. The immediacy of social media is great for you to spread the word about something very quickly, but bad news travels just as fast.

Many a business has fallen foul of a disgruntled customer venting their anger on Facebook, while a misplaced, autocorrected tweet can be hazardous. Not to mention, with social media, any PR mistakes are published into the stratosphere for the world to see. Handle with care.

(5) Don’t do it all yourself

Too many small businesses make the mistake of trying to do everything themselves. It’s understandable that you’d want to keep costs down, but sometimes it works out most costly and less productive as your precious time is deflected from what you do best – running your business.

So just as you’d get an expert to design your website, consider hiring a professional to do your PR, as they’ll have the know-how, contacts and objectivity to help promote your brand. And it needn’t cost the earth as independent agencies are there to help smaller businesses with affordable PR.

Halima Khatun is the director of HK Communications.

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