Have you ever considered what role public relations (PR) can play in your business?
Whether you are a start-up, launching a new product, looking to secure funding or build the visibility for your business, here are some steps and considerations for using PR to help you build your brand and spread the word.
Have a Good Product That’s Ready for the Big Time
This probably goes without saying, no matter how slick your marketing is, your product needs to be as good as it can be to generate buzz, bring customers in and keep them coming back. So make sure your product is ready – test it, validate it and perfect it. Remember, what people say about your product online has a shelf life, so you want those early initial reviews to be good.
If you’re in the high-tech sector, beta launches are an option you might want to consider. These allow you to generate advance previews from the press and industry commentators. But remember, you can’t control what the press is going to say, so make sure it’s a good beta and make it clear that your product isn’t ready for the big time yet.
Get Your Messaging Right
Be prepared to talk about who you are, what you have to offer, the value it brings and why people should care – i.e. your elevator pitch. Tailor that message to your audience. For example, if you are pitching to potential influencers in the media, prepare a pitch that includes answers to the following:
- What is the problem or "pain" in the marketplace that your business addresses?
- How does your business or its product solve this problem?
- What is the main benefit you give?
If you are pitching to investors, have an answer prepared for this question:
- What do you need to bring your solution to reality?
In addition, take a look at your website. Polish up your messaging so that visitors can quickly understand who you are – include founder and executive bios, images, video, FAQs, a demo – anything that will help you present your pitch to reporters.
Plan Your Strategy
Who in the media should you target? What is the mission of that media outlet? Who do they serve? How engaged and active are they on social media? Do they have authority on search engines (i.e. do their articles rank highly, this is a gauge of how influential they are)? Use RSS feeds and social media to follow the media that matter, and get to know them. Is there a fit there for you?
Next, what tactics should you use? This will vary depending on the type of business you run. Service-based businesses benefit from showing their expertise, blogging, contributing articles to target publications. Product-centric firms may fair better with tactics that showcase the product itself – formal launches, demos, inviting product reviews and so on. For a useful round-up of tactics and when to use them, read 16 Small Business PR Tactics You Can Start Today from Understanding Marketing.
Line Up Your Internal Brand Advocates
Who is going to handle press enquiries, be available for interviews and tell your story? It often helps to have more than one person speak about your business. For example, product development can get into the nitty gritty of your latest release, while the business owner or CEO could talk about the wider customer benefit and what the competition is up to. The media will want to hear both views, so be prepared for that.
There’s no ignoring social media – and it can work in your favor, especially if no one in the media is writing about you. Use it to push yourself. Promote events on LinkedIn and Facebook. Monitor sites and listen to what people are saying. Once you are comfortable with social media, start to place content that’s relevant to your audience – blogs (share tips and your expertise), industry news that impacts your customers and so on. You don’t have to be everywhere, so try out a few things and gauge what sites and content is working for your business – adjust your strategy based on the results you get, and give it time.
Where to Spend Money
Clearly, getting great PR for your business isn’t going to be free – whether you need to develop content, hire someone to help you, or hit the road – the expenses will add up. If you are starting up but are really looking to drum up interest in your business, particularly if you are seeking funding, spend your money where it’s going to make a difference – on your product launch (demos, trade shows, road shows, press release, sending out samples for the media to review, etc.). If your budget permits, or as your business grows, then you can think about spending money on getting help with your communications plan, whether from freelance consultants or PR agencies.
How do you go about generating a buzz about your business? Has PR worked for you? Leave a comment below!