Public relations has become an increasingly important vehicle for connecting with customers. There are so many places that the same item can be purchased, so consumers are paying more attention to which companies share their values and agendas. At the same time PR can be a good way to get free press for products and services and is important as an overall branding strategy.
Here are some PR tips and tricks for entrepreneurial businesses:
Spread the word
If your company has news, share it with a press release and follow up with phone calls. Every company has news, whether it's a new product launch, an internal promotion, a partnership, a sales forecast or report, a website launch or a charitable endeavor. Take advantage of these opportunities for free press, and don't forget to include a photo.
Treat reporters with respect
Good PR people know that the media controls their public relations efforts. Tick off the wrong reporter or editor, and you could find yourself locked out of the best publication in your industry, no matter how compelling your news is. Always answer questions when you can; and if you can't, tell them the reason why you can't. If they need more information, promise to get it and deliver it; and return inquiries in time for the next publication or program when possible. In person, treat reporters with respect and make sure they have access to information and human resources to help them complete their stories.
Giving time, services and money to charitable organizations almost always lands some press and helps you connect with your customers. You can take advantage of such opportunities to get others involved and spread your brand's values. If you are sponsoring a food drive, for instance, send postcards or flyers the week before letting everyone know how to help.
Be active in groups
Get active in community groups, business networking groups, volunteer service boards and other organizations that require you to donate your time. You'll establish relationships and your business will thrive off the resulting word-of-mouth. These groups can (and should) be online and off.
Have a great website
Your business website should include information for journalists and customers alike. Make sure your company's mission is clearly stated, and post resources for finding out more about your companies' charitable donations, news, partnerships and memberships. Your website should be easy to find and it should be simple for interested parties to contact the appropriate department directly from your contact page.
Be a guest
Take advantage of any opportunity to be a guest columnist for a publication, a guest on a television or radio program, write a guest article or make a guest appearance at an event. Being a guest can optimize your exposure in a positive light and garner free publicity in front of your target audience.
Public relations can be tricky, but if you're open, honest and take advantage of opportunities to tell the world about the good things you do while treating those around you with respect, you'll position yourself atop the media heap the next time you have big news and need free attention.