Public Relations: Marketing through the Media – Small Business Marketing

Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between a business, the media and the public. Almost every business or organisation interested in how it is portrayed in public will employ some level of PR.

Effective and pro-active PR will give your small business wider exposure in the marketplace. It’s used in business marketing campaigns for a simple reason: the more people that hear of your business, the more chance you’ll have of generating leads and gaining future clients. And lead generation for your small business is why you’re reading this.

PR, done right, also allows you to position your business in the media the way you would like it to be perceived by potential clients: as the expert in your field.

Why a PR Campaign is a Great Move to Market YOUR Small Business

PR campaigns are fantastic for marketing small to medium sized services or professional businesses. Why?

PR campaigns don’t require a large marketing budget
PR allows you to use third-party outlets to talk about your service, which gives you an aura of objective legitimacy, even endorsement. PR achieves this because everybody is more likely to believe what others say about you than what you say about yourself. It’s the same argument as to why testimonials are so important
PR builds a rapport between your business and your niche market. It is an important step in building a relationship of trust so that potential clients feel confident in committing to using your services

The Single Most Important Piece of Advice in this Chapter…

Lead creation is all about lead generation – and so is our approach to PR. If it doesn’t get more clients for your small business, why bother?

Yes, it’s nice to see your name in the paper, knowing all your friends will read it or hear about it. And that the cool guy from school who you lusted after will now realise their mistake in not inviting you to the Year 10 formal! But people read or listen to something about you and then forget—we all see many hundreds of messages a day. So what have you achieved for your small business, with 10 or even a 100 direct competitors all competing for mind space?

That’s what makes small business PR so different: that raising your profile through the media or any other way has limited benefits, it is not a valuable outcome for a small business (see Chapter one for more analysis of this).

What you need is for the reader or viewer to have a reason to go to your website or to call an 1800 number. And the obvious reason is to get more information, to learn more about the topic. In short, to get the free gift of a White Paper or your newsletter. Now remember, journalists usually don’t like sales people and certainly don’t want to be seen to be in any way, shape or form promoting your business. So you need to disguise any benefit to yourself, and make sure the audience gets real value from the download.

What you need to say to the journalist who’s about to interview has the benefit of being true—and if its not, maybe you should take a long hard look at your White Paper?

“Sue, this is a complex issue and we’ve written an e-book that explains it in more detail. We are happy to make this available to your readers – they just have to go to:”

Now, most will say OK, though sometimes government owned or more left wing media will go into their, “That’s against our policy” speech.

If they do, you can compromise ‘on the run’ by sacrificing the capture of their details—you will still get the traffic (good for SEO) and some will like what they see and subscribe or contact you.

So you say something like: “Sue, it’s not a problem. When they visit the page they are able to download the Paper without registering. And as you can see, (showing her) the report is full of information and is not at all salesy (if it is, maybe you should be selling “a set of steak knives with that”! Fix it!) We wrote it to be really informative so that they see us as the experts and so might call us one day if they have a need.”

If they still say no, you may not want to give them too much of your valuable time. It’s not worth it, as you will just be tomorrow’s fish wrapper as my granny used to say.

Know Thy Target Audience or Die

It is fundamental to an effective and powerful PR campaign that you know who your niche market is before you start. If your target market is ‘everyone’, you are casting your net too wide and your limited marketing budget will be wasted. If you narrow your focus, however, to target a single niche then you can direct your advertising and promotions to where this specific group congregates, to what they read, to what websites they go to and so on. You can only ever effectively reach a niche (as we showed in Chapter one).

Consider the following questions so that you can properly target your PR efforts to your niche:

Who is your ideal customer?
Where do you want to generate leads?
What age group do they fall under?
What magazines/newspapers do they read?
What TV shows do they watch?
What websites do they visit?
What radio shows do they listen to?
What social networks are they on? LinkedIn, Twitter, Stumbleupon, etc?
What are their hopes and aspirations?
What do they fear?
What are their interests and hobbies?
Where do the like to spend their money?
How much do they earn?
Who are your main competitors for this market?

There’s no point attempting to get stories into publications that your target market, your Gold Clients, simply don’t read. And remember, your target market isn’t ‘everyone’. By marketing to everyone, you won’t reach anyone because your messages will be too diffused. Once you work out exactly who you want to appeal to and where you want to generate leads, you’ll begin developing the messages that are going to make them specifically sit up and take notice whenever your small business is featured in the media. You have to target your PR campaigns in order to get results—small business marketers can’t afford to do anything else.

Advertising Small Businesses for Free with PR

A press release is free advertising for your small business. It is also a commonly used and valuable way for the media, and subsequently the public, to be made aware of your news, new products and services. A tightly focused PR campaign can be very cost effective and long lasting. Why do a one-off marketing promotion when you could implement a free publicity campaign and have ongoing results? Ongoing lead generation for your small business—magic!

Generating publicity has several unique benefits that advertising simply doesn’t have.

Firstly, it’s free. With PR money doesn’t change hands, which is rather cost-effective. What we’re talking about here is the difference between getting your product/service talked about on a news or a current affairs program (in a positive light) versus the cost of producing an ad and buying time or space to run it. Both methods get your service on TV or radio, but one you paid for and one you didn’t. And potential customers are more likely to be interested in the free one!

Secondly, PR gives your small business credibility. Consumers know when they see an ad that a company has produced it to say favorable things about their own products and services. They know the intent behind it is to get them to part with their cash. When they see a business, product or service talked about in the media however, they don’t instantly make these assumptions. They’re more likely to be receptive to your company if it’s presented by a third party.

Thirdly, PR can position you as The Expert. If you get interviewed by the media as a representative of your field, you’ve instantly been cast as The Expert, someone who needs to be listened to. This is credibility that will encourage potential clients to trust you and respect your opinion. Increased media exposure generates increased sales. However, that’s only the beginning, because publicity builds on itself and increases over time if you follow some simple steps.

Lastly, it’s easy and anyone can do it. Anyone can get publicity for their company if they know the rules to the game being played. You just need to follow a tried and tested formula. And that’s what this chapter will reveal to you—you’ll learn how simply and effectively a PR campaign can be run.