These PR tips can help you become your own publicist. (Credit: McCollins Media)
When you’re thinking about starting a business your checklist and budget may include finding employees, manufacturing, leasing an office and getting a website designed. If public relations or marketing end up on that list, they’re usually listed at the bottom, which is a huge mistake.
With the barriers of entry to starting a new business so low there is a lot of noise in the marketplace and a ton of competition, which makes it hard for even great businesses and brands to get noticed. But if you don’t have the money to retain a PR firm or publicist right now, that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost.
With the tips below, you can take matters into your own hands, empower your team and start getting the press and recognition you want for your business.
1. You Control the Narrative
One of my favorite quotes says that you “can’t control how you are perceived, but you have 100 percent control over how you’re presented.” This statement is extremely relevant to business owners because many don’t realize just how important it is to control how they are communicating their story to the general public.
In business, there are no small details. Everything you or your team does communicates something to current and prospective clients and customers. As a result, it’s imperative that you pay attention to the little things because they will set the tone for how people receive, encounter or respond to your business.
2. Be Your Own Media Outlet
Use your blog and social media to tell the stories that you’d like to see reported in the press. This means going beyond writing and posting the standard press release on your website. Tell actual stories. Did something amazing happen in your business? Did you just cross a major milestone? Did you hire your first employee? Write about these things because it provides a glimpse behind the scenes and transparency in business is a great way to build brand loyalty and equity among your customers.
3. Remove Unnecessary Boundaries
In business you need to be accessible. You’d be surprised how many times business owners have missed out on opportunities because they didn’t receive an email or because their phone went straight to voicemail and they never checked it.
Examine your business and figure out how you can remove unnecessary boundaries that could be blocking potential blessings, like having a barely-functioning contact form on your website.
4. Build Relationships with Key Reporters and Other Influencers
One of the main things that publicists and PR firms are hired for are their relationships. But just because you don’t have a publicist on retainer doesn’t mean that you can’t work to build your own relationships with the reporters and influencers who cover your field.
Make your own list of people you’d love to work with or reporters who cover your industry. Do your research. Read their stories/blogs and keep up with them on social media. Contact them, tell them that you’re a fan of their work, and if it’s appropriate you can mention that you’d like to work together. The whole idea is to build your relationships organically and to get on the right people’s radar.
5. Take Advantage of Thought Leadership Opportunities
A great way to build your brand and enhance your visibility is to take opportunities such as speaking gigs, events and being quoted in the media as an expert on industry trends.
However, one of the caveats of thought leadership that most entrepreneurs can’t overlook is the fact that they won’t always be talking about their brand or business. Which is fine, because if you’re visible and getting a lot of opportunities, your business will win by default. Understanding that it doesn’t always have to be about your business to be effective, is key.
6. Extend the Life of Your Media Coverage
Just because you were featured or profiled in a major publication or blog doesn’t mean that everyone has seen it. You can extend the life of your media coverage by turning each feature or interview into its own blog post. You can share behind-the-scenes photos, footage or anecdotes or you can talk more about a topic you covered in the story.
You can create a monthly or year-end slideshow of media highlights and milestones for your business that you can post online or send to your best clients or customers along with a note of appreciation.
7. Empower Your Employees
Your employees are your first unofficial brand ambassadors. Empower and educate them on the language and culture of your business so that they feel like they’re a real part of the team. When appropriate, you should also give them the opportunity to talk about your business in public, maybe they can run one of your businesses’ social media accounts or they could participate in a relevant media opportunity.
When people feel appreciated or like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, they are more inclined to spread the word and tell people about all of the great things that are happening within your company.
8. Celebrate Your Best Customers
Clients and customers can be brand ambassadors too so it’s important that you recognize and build a relationship with the people who keep your business afloat. This could mean highlighting a customer of the month, engaging with them on social media, giving special deals and discounts or just showing your appreciation at the end of every transaction.
9. Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Business
Social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are powerful platforms that can help you tell your story, find prospective customers and clients, and create million-dollar brands.
Find the social media network(s) that are best for your business and start using them today. If you need help getting started, most of the sites that I mentioned above have ‘how to’ guides for businesses or you can do a quick search and find hundreds of articles that will break it all down for you.
10. Be Your Own Publicist
Golda Meir famously said, “Don’t be so humble, you’re not that great.” We’ve been conditioned to let our work speak for itself, but with so much noise in the marketplace you have to find creative ways to amplify your message. One of the best ways to do this is to be your own publicist. Be passionate about your business and people will take notice. Be bold and talk to people about what you’re doing or building because if you don’t, who will?
If you have additional questions about PR for your small business, contact me.
*Originally appeared on Madame Noire.