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PR Matters to Small Businesses, Too

Business-PRThe role of PR in small business typically comes up between “sometimes” and “never”; usually, it’s only important when the businesses wants to diffuse a disaster. And it’s a shame, because it can make a huge difference in the growth of the business. For small businesses, it’s hard enough to find the time to promote your business, much less afford a large agency to manage it. Some owners just need a couple tips to get them started, so we’ve put together a few tips to point you in the right direction.

1. Be mindful of your timing, particularly when you’re leveraging social media. While most small businesses tend to release news during the day, they’re doing so when their audience isn’t watching. Check your Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc. to verify this, but most people are on social media at the very end of the day, and into the evening.

While we’re on the topic of social media, let’s mention this concept known as “trending”. While everyone has their own individual area of focus (sports teams, recipes, cat videos, etc.), there are always trending topics – news items or issues of global discussion – that dominate the social media universe. You can learn quickly what the majority of people are talking about just by being active. Stay on top of the news and comment on what’s relevant. It’s a great way to get into the global conversation.

2. Cross-publish your press releases and news placements. Pin the images from your online press releases to Pinterest. Link to media placements in email marketing blasts (mid-week is best for delivering them), and merge your social media accounts to your email marketing platform or press release service. This will ensure that you’re getting the largest distribution for the release. For an offline strategy, send a highly relevant placement in trade publications to potentially interested clients. As critical as the internet is to business, not everyone is tuned in all the time.

3. Don’t send press releases out on the cheap. Free press release services are fine for building links for SEO, but not for attracting the media. Go with PRWeb, or another company that is reputable and has a solid reach to establish that.

4. Keep an eye on your online reputation. for small businesses, the maxim “any publicity is good publicity” doesn’t apply. Keep an eye on your reviews and search results, and address issues that arise, as they arise. Letting a bad review sit for any period of time looks like an avoidance. Even if you haven’t remedied the situation that caused the bad review, by addressing it quickly with your plans of resolution, you can diffuse skepticism and turn a bad situation into a sign that you actively address your company’s issues.

5. Be human. It may almost seem that this need not be mentioned, but I can’t tell you how many business owners go into “corporate robot mode” when they’re creating content for their website, brochures or otherwise promoting their business. No one wants a generic pitch or an uptight business experience. Show your personality. Be professional, but relaxed. The language you use, the interaction you have online, and the overall message your company delivers lets your market know whether or not you’re someone they want to do business with. Think about it; do you want to work with a bland, boring, stodgy business? Exactly. No one else does either.

Finally, keep it consistent. Staying attractive to media outlets and search engines through press releases, fresh content on your blog, social media and news/press pages will increase their interest. Seriously, we’ve been placed and covered in articles just for being visible.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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