What are some ways to tell your company’s story and generate exposure for your small business?
We’re diving into public relations this week, and in a previous post we explored what PR is and isn’t and ways to begin formulating a PR strategy and incorporating some best practices into your company, no matter the size of your business or your budget.
Today we asked three award-winning PR professionals in South Florida to share some of their tips for small businesses. We hope you will find them useful.
From Durée Ross, President, Durée & Company:
- Have your elevator speech down pat! It may seem obvious, but this in an important first step. Know your product or service well, and be able to communicate it in a few short sentences. Then, tell everyone you know about your business! Oftentimes, you only have a few minutes to summarize what it is that you do, or what services your business offers. Being able to communicate this in a clear and concise way improves the chances that others will remember your business.
- Say it with socials! Social media is a great tool for sharing your story, and it’s cost effective too! There are a number of different platforms, so finding one (or more) that fits your business needs is relatively easy. Instagram is a perfect place to share those high-resolution lifestyle images and LinkedIn is a perfect spot to share opinion and thought leadership pieces. Post on multiple platforms, but remember, consistency is key. Make sure you are posting a few times a week and that posts are well written, link to important info and utilize the right hashtags.
- Be a friend to the community. No matter how small the business, make corporate social responsibility a priority. It’s so important to look outside of your immediate surroundings and immerse yourself in something that strengthens your industry or the greater community. Start small and grow your presence. Picking a cause that is related to your industry can help grow your network. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming either. Start by volunteering a few hours a month, or if you can, take on pro bono work. For example, if your business is a restaurant or something food-related, look to get involved with a local food pantry.
- Join your local business chamber and attend events. This is another important one! The effort you put in is what you will get out. Business chambers are a great way to organically grow your network and gain valuable insight from the local community. Many offer a robust calendar of events, workshops and seminars – all with great networking opportunities. The more you are out there, the more people you will meet.
Durée & Company specializes in results-driven PR, marketing and special events and has nonprofit, restaurant, real estate, lifestyle, entertainment, travel, medical and legal clients.
From Brian Byrnes, Founder & Director, Agency Byrnes Communications:
- Define your PR objectives. What are you hoping to achieve with PR? Are you seeking media coverage to help attract investors? To capture new customers? To validate your offering and grow your business? Or to frustrate the competition? To feed your ego? It is probably a little bit of all those things — and that is fine, but taking the time to consider why and what you hope to achieve with PR will allow you to create a roadmap for a successful PR strategy that you can execute on your own, or with the help of a PR agency. Take the time to understand the difference between earned media and paid media. Generally speaking, with PR you will be seeking earned media mentions and creating original content. With marketing, you will be considering paid advertising and sponsorship opportunities to bolster your brand. But remember, PR and marketing are not the same.
- Know what journalists want. Journalists are looking for news. They want to “break” stories and need fresh angles and ideas. They are a jaded bunch, so you need to work hard to set yourself apart. So ask: what makes me unique? Why are we different than the competition? You must be prepared to provide details and metrics on topics like funding amount, revenue, user #’s, downloads, followers, etc. If you can’t give a journalist data, proof points and be quoted on the record, you might not have a story, and they might not be interested.
- Be realistic. Be realistic about your media outreach goals. Indeed, a mention in TechCrunch or CNN or The Miami Herald will be beneficial, but that is certainly not the only way to reach your target audience. For B2B companies, a positive story in a respected trade publication that will be seen by your peers, competitors, and potential customers can work wonders. Be sure to research which media outlets are followed by people in your industry and make an effort to contact their editors and publishers. Trade shows are always a great place to establish these relationships, as most industry events are either organized, sponsored or covered by industry media companies. Sometimes purchasing a piece of paid media, like an ad in the print magazine or a digital website banner, can help increase the chances of future earned media coverage. This line between “earned” and “paid” coverage is more often blurred with smaller, B2B-focused media outlets than it is by larger, legacy media.
- Create Content. If you have a big piece of news to announce, like the opening of a new location, a new hire, the launch of a product update, or a company milestone, you should write and distribute a press release. Research the relevant journalists at local and national news outlets, and at B2B-focused industry outlets, and email them the news. If you want to amplify the reach of your announcement, consider using a paid press release distribution service. Of course, there are also many free options available to share your news with the world: host the press release on your company website or blog, post it on your personal LinkedIn page, and share the link on social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Original content like opinion pieces, white papers, and case studies can also be tremendously helpful in promoting your personal and company brand, optimizing SEO, and in establishing thought leadership in your field.
Agency Byrnes Communications is a Miami-based boutique consultancy offering PR strategy services to clients worldwide, with a focus on emerging technology.
From Yvette N. Harris, President and CEO, Harris Public Relations:
- Utilize commemorative months/weeks and days. Who knew there were so many of them? I have become a commemorative month-aholic (is that even a word)? Of course, it isn’t. However, it sounds good to me. I have most of them in my head. National Art Day, National Wine Day, National Arts and Humanities Month, National Dental Hygiene Month, Youth Arts Month, national Midwifery Week. I could go on. However, I will stop. So, next month is National Women’s Small Business Month. I am pitching success stories of our women entrepreneur clients and women small businesses in the community who are making a difference, how they navigate running a company and family and personal life. Does your story, or company’s initiative fit into a commemorative day or month? You can pitch that to an appropriate media outlet. In turn, you can also get a mention about your company with your website or social media. What a win for you that becomes!
- Offer yourself up as a resource/expert. Keep up with current events in the news. There might be something you can speak about or lend your expertise to — perhaps a trend in social media, health, law, community outreach, or business. I represent a young entrepreneur who owns a funeral home. When a particular young celebrity overdosed, I called the local TV station and pitched a story on estate planning and pre-planning your final wishes no matter how young or old you are. Of course, I added my client to the mix to be available to come on and speak about it. He was able to offer tips and at the same time garner some excellent exposure on his funeral home.
- Write a Q&A or article. Offer a prepackaged article that is ready to go to your local media outlets. You can also curate a Q&A for each outlet, so it’s exclusive for them. How do you do that? You draft up a Q&A on what is unique about your business narrative, the launch, your initiative, how you give back. Include a short bio, company profile, and how people can contact you for more information. Remember to include your website and photos.
- Track your success and sign up for googlealerts.com.
Harris Public Relations is a Miami-based boutique strategic communications firm serving the arts, business, and cultural communities.