Tens of Thousands of small businesses start up every year putting little or no thought into their Public Relations (PR) and Marketing strategy. Millions of small businesses go through each subsequent year with almost no PR or Marketing direction.
 

Tens of Thousands of small businesses start up every year putting little or no thought into their Public Relations (PR) and Marketing strategy. Millions of small businesses go through each subsequent year with almost no PR or Marketing direction.

In this age of celebrity blogs, tabloid exclusives and dummed down news coverage, PR has almost become a dirty word - well two dirty words.  If you speak to PR or Marketing Consultants they will speak to you about "increasing brand awareness", "seeking out your USP", and "facilitating your connection with your potential clients".

It all sounds very sexy.

Most of it though is completely hollow.

First of all, if you have a small business, your PR needs are significantly different to the corporate giants and in all honesty, a regurgitated PR strategy from a text book or a previous client probably isn't going to work for you - even if you had the budget to be able to afford it.

If you own a small business, any small business, the chances are that you can promote it far more effectively than any slick PR agency ever could. Yes, you might need some help, you might need some guidance - perhaps some creative input, but if you apply yourself, come up with a plan and stick to it - there is no reason that you cannot successfully position your business.

The first lesson to learn is that, unless you get very, very lucky, people are not going to come and beat down your door offering you media coverage. Likewise - if you send out blanket press releases to 100 local and national newspapers, the chances are that it will be ignored by 96 of them. And not covered by the other 4.


But it's far from a lost cause.

If you do it right - PR can work incredibly well.  You won't see results over night, but if you develop a strategy and stick with it - you will get results.

If you have no PR / Marketing strategy - you are probably destined to fail.  I passionately believe that PR and Marketing are interlinked.

If you don't have a big marketing budget, and few small businesses do, PR can be the best way to build an awareness of what you have to offer and to generate interest in your products or services. You should focus on getting close to your target market; you can make it personal and reach out to them directly.

So if you are going to issue press releases - don't just knock out a blanket release many newspapers or magazines. Focus your attention on key publications. Draw up a list of no more than 10 that you want to target. The 10 most appropriate for your target audience. Focus your efforts on these contacts - try to build a relationship with them.

Find out what their deadlines are. When is the best time of the week to contact them? Don't just try and push stuff at them - engage them first, tell them that you like their work. Can you help in any way? Let them know that you are an expert in the dance field. Offer them your help and support if they need an expert comment on your particular niche. If you can build a real relationship you will have a much better chance of them picking up your story when the time is right.

PR has changed a lot over the last decade. It is now about being much more proactive, identifying opportunities and seizing them immediately. The web has provided us with millions of new PR opportunities, but it has also brought with it a million other people looking to climb in through the same window as you are.

So you need to be creative and proactive. You need a plan which covers ALL of your key targets online, offline, event based etc. Then you need the discipline week after week to work at developing each of these target areas.

To get your plan started take into account the following:

- Don't just focus on the big targets. Driving small, targeted audiences to your business can actually be much more effective.

- If you are going to issue a press release - make sure you also post it online.

- Do not try to be all things to all people. Blanket targeting will not work, I guarantee it; focus your energies on identifying and hitting the right targets.

Do not lose sight of the objective. You want to let people know who you are. What you do. How you can help.

But take your time to build your credibility. Don't try selling your product or service as soon as you have got your foot in the door. Build your reputation before you start pushing your wares.

PR and Marketing on a budget takes time and commitment but it is more than worth the effort, and you'll definitely find that the harder you work - the luckier you'll get!