By John Eberhard
Even before I started working in the marketing field, I worked as a public relations person for my church. I traveled all around New England holding events, and getting newspaper, radio and TV coverage on our activities.
Public relations means to make your works well publicized. In practical terms, one aspect of PR is to get news media to write articles or do broadcast segments on your business or activity.
So how should a small business approach the subject of PR?
One of the first things you can do is to start writing press releases about your activities and sending these out to media outlets and online PR sites.
- The first thing you should think about is that you want to get media coverage on the things your business is already doing. In other words, coverage on the services you offer, what you are doing for clients, on anything unusual your business offers, etc. These could include:
a. Offering a new product or service
b. Releasing some new version or improvement to a product or service
c. I have often written press releases for clients stating that they offer _____ service (not a new service), not stating that it is a new service. Just stating that they offer it
d. Moving to a new location
e. Hiring a new person for an executive position or promoting someone to an executive position
f. You just delivered some noteworthy service or product to a client
g. Opening a new office somewhere
h. Holding some kind of event, such as a client meeting or conference
i. Holding a performance, such as music or dance, or a showing of art
j. Receiving some kind of award or recognition
k. Signing some kind of large service contract with a client
l. Announcing you are going to be exhibiting at an upcoming trade show
m. Announcing a business anniversary
n. Releasing a book or some publication
- Offering Information. Another thing you can do with press releases is to offer some kind of information to the public, giving advice on your topic, warning the public of a danger, alerting the public to something that is happening, etc. Often this will include linking in the release to some kind of information online, such as an article or blog post, or a free report that you offer for people to download. You can link to information you have written, but you can also alert the public to and link to information written by others, such as government agencies, research companies, etc.
- You can do some kind of charity where you give away something or donate money to some cause or create some charity yourself. I personally think this is something that is appropriate for larger businesses, not for small business. Most small businesses cannot afford to donate a lot of money to something. But you can give away some relatively inexpensive service and get some PR coverage on that.
For examples and to see what other people are doing you can go here:
Once you have something you want to promote with a release, then what? Next you have to get the release out, to these types of places:
- Free online PR sites
- Paid online PR sites
- Send to local newspapers
- Send to local radio
- Send to local TV
With 1 and 2, the free sites will either post your release or not. They are kind of arbitrary about it. Paid PR sites will usually take your release. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $600 or more, depending on what type of distribution you want.
With 3 through 5, you will have to track down who handles press releases for your type of news at that media outlet. Then you get the release to that person, and you will need to follow up on it to get them to run something on it.
You can see examples of releases we have written for clients here.