In the world of search engine optimization, paid ads, and social media content, it can be tempting to overlook more traditional forms of marketing. However, many of these marketing tactics are going strong and are even more valuable in the internet era. One of them is public relations.
Public relations (PR) is a century-old marketing tool that involves drumming up excitement about a product or service through the use of the media.
Most PR coverage is free, making this an affordable promotional option for small businesses on a budget. Check out our top PR tips for new businesses to see how you can get some free publicity to help grow your brand.
1. Send Out Press Releases
Press releases are the bread and butter of public relations. You can craft one message and send it out to dozens of journalists at once. If the publication finds value in your message, they will report on your press release or contact you for more information. Whenever you have news related to your brand, turn to your press release. This could be about a grand opening event that you are hosting or a new initiative you’re launching to help the community.
Some journalists will pick up news from social media if their circles are talking about it, but most reporters still rely on press releases to learn what’s going on with businesses in the community.
2. Target Specific Journalists and Publications
As you send out your press releases and try to engage local media, make sure the people you are reaching are relevant to your brand. For example, a local vegan quick-service restaurant would want to reach small business media, food critics, and wellness journalists. They don’t need to waste time and effort contacting sports media unless there is a direct athletic hook with their brand.
Knowing your niche is important, but so is knowing who to contact within a media organization. A news anchor may have less say in what stories are covered over the producers and newsdesk team. This means sending out press releases to every TV personality may not give you the results you want. Focus on the right channels to get noticed by local media.
3. Work With Media of All Sizes
When small business owners start out with public relations, they often focus on the big newspapers and news channels in their area. At face value, this makes sense: reaching the biggest publication means reaching the biggest audience, right? However, you may end up reaching a more engaged audience and getting more exposure from small publications.
For example, your local neighborhood paper may be interested in profiling your new business. The paper would reach everyone in your immediate vicinity and would give you significant coverage. This would provide more value to your bottom line than a small blurb in the local section of a major newspaper.
4. Determine Which Topics Are Newsworthy
If you want to pique the interest of local media, you need to offer something worth reporting. While the local press probably won’t run a story on every menu-change at your restaurant, they may be interested in special or secret menu items that celebrate a season or local celebrity.
The challenge with public relations is that most businesses aren’t able to sort between what they consider newsworthy and what the media actually wants. Instead, they overwhelm local media with press releases until their message gets ignored.
Choose your press releases carefully. It’s okay to send them on a regular basis, but make sure the hook provides actual news.
5. Host Engaging Events
If you don’t have any big news that you can report on, make news. Consider hosting an event you can promote through public relations. This could be a fundraiser for a local non-profit or a unique party that the area has never seen before. Your event could get you publicity into local events calendars and intrigue media outlets that you otherwise have struggled to connect with.
If you can’t host an event, sponsor one. This is another traditional marketing tactic, while publicity for that event can include your name and business to promote your brand.
Recommended Reading: Host In-store Events to Bring More Customers Through Your Door
6. Make Yourself an Industry Expert
One of the best parts of PR is that the media will start to come to you once you build up your brand. Local journalists will reach out with related stories and ask your insight into what you think about the issue.
For example, if a new zoning law would affect small businesses, a reporter might reach out to see what you think and if your brand is impacted. This gives you an added publicity bump, even if your business is only casually mentioned in the story.
Make yourself an expert in your area and in your field. You can become the go-to source in your area and attract both media and customers.
7. Try Newsjacking Related Stories
If the local media isn’t reaching out to you just yet for your opinions, consider newsjacking stories to promote your business. Newsjacking is a delicate process. You don’t want to seem like you are unnecessarily injecting yourself into the discussion. However, there are times when your insight is valuable.
For example, a pest company can use a story about high mosquito rates to talk about how they encourage homeowners to eliminate standing water. This provides value to the initial story by creating actionable steps for people who hear about it. Instead of talking about the fear of mosquito-borne illness, homeowners can proactively take steps to reduce their risk of infection.
Use These PR Tips for New Businesses to Grow Your Brand
You can set the tone for the success of your business during the first few months that you are open. By getting a steady stream of publicity, you can reach new audiences and let your target customers know how you can help them.
For additional advice on how to grow your new brand, check out our Resources section. We help small businesses improve their customer experiences and create valuable in-store experiences that make them convert. Keep checking back for new content that you can learn from and apply to your brand.