If you’re running a micro business, PR can be cost-effective, powerful tool: it can raise your company’s overall visibility, lend you much-needed credibility, and make a positive impression on your target audience.
It also doesn’t have to cost a fortune. A micro business can boost its profile, earn its reputation, and win new customers on a budget: it just has to be clever about how this budget is spent.
These proven PR tips will help you make a name for your company, and lay some solid foundations for more ambitious campaigns in future.
Choose quality of coverage over quantity
It’s easy to assume that the most PR is always the best PR, but it’s also very wrong. Make no mistake: if an agency is promising you a suspiciously high number of media hits, don’t walk away from the meeting – run. You may well get the coverage, but it will most likely not be of the required quality, or even relevance.
A robotic process automation technology company probably has little use for a glowing writeup in Wood Furnishing Weekly, even if it’s really effusive. Twelve such write-ups will still likely have less effect than an interview in media actually consumed by your target audience.
Accordingly, you should start by making a list of the sort of publications, websites, and other media outlets that your target audience actually reads. You can find this out through a combination of simple guesswork, talking to your customers (do this – understand what they read and their pain points), or by examining competitor activity.
Understand what is newsworthy
Your product or service isn’t inherently newsworthy – as many journalists who’ve received a self-serving pitch about a radical new kind of USB stick will attest. It needs some combination of these five news values to gain their interest:
How will people be affected by your story? Is there an audience for it, and who’s in that audience?
Why do your opinions on this hold more weight than the average person’s? Do you have any special credentials that might gain a journalist’s – and a readership’s – interest?
Is there an argument, and which side of it are you on? How can your contributions change or advance this argument?
You know: dog bites man isn’t a story – man bites dog is. A little oddness goes a long way towards making your story newsworthy.
What about your story is relatable and human?
Reflecting on a recent online spat between rail firm Thameslink and high street retailer Poundland, Grid Law founder David Walker explains how business owners can protect their own brand and reputation on social media.
Get your gatekeeper’s attention
Knowing who to target, of course, is only half the battle; the other half is getting noticed by journalists, editors, digital influencers, and other gatekeepers. Think about how your story fits in with their beat – and use this to your advantage. For example you could:
- Look for relevant stories they’ve already published. How can you move the story forward, if at all? What’s your alternative angle on it?
- Read your target publications. Who focuses on which area? What’s their email address? Do they use social media, and can they be contacted on it?
- How does your company fit into the story – and what can your company add to any existing stories?
And make sure to include links to your website in everything you contribute to any publication. This helps SEO efforts: links from reputable outlets boost your own reputation – and your visibility in search engine rankings – over time.
Measure, measure, and measure again
When you’ve secured a PR result (and that coveted link) you shouldn’t stop there. If you don’t measure the impact of a piece of coverage, you won’t know what kind of coverage you need to pursue in future.
Use Google Analytics (it’s free and very easy to set up – here are the official instructions), you can check to see what kind of coverage results in extra traffic to your website. You can also check your referral traffic to get a better idea of the kinds of sites that drive visitors. Monitor this activity, and you’ll have a much better idea about the kind of coverage that’s most valuable, and which should be pursued less vigorously.
Integrate PR into the marketing mix
Finally, PR works best when it isn’t isolated from your other marketing efforts. As mentioned, it works especially well with SEO – serving as a solid stream of authoritative links to your site.
But there’s no reason not to integrate it into your other efforts: posting a piece of coverage to your social channels and asking influencers and current and ex customers what they think can be a good way to spark online debate and give you a reason to pick up the phone and develop a business relationship.
Points that you didn’t cover in an interview or a bylined article can be elaborated on in a blog post (where the usual restrictions around self-promotion are not in place) and further marketed to your target audience on social media.
In my experience, PR can work well for micro businesses – but it needs to be laser focused on the best stories so time invested in marketing is time invested in the bottom line.
Luke Budka is director of TopLine Comms
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