Five tips to help small businesses do their own PR Many small businesses shy away from the PR minefield, but it’s very important to get involved. Strong PR activity can raise your businesses’ profile, develop useful and relevant contacts, and increase the chances of new leads. PR is not as complicated as is often thought, but it’s important to understand the ‘rules’ of the industry and also know where the best opportunities can be found. These tips will help you on your way. Regular like clockwork Some entrepreneurs believe PR activity should occur in frenzied rushes around new product launches and developments, but a more sustained release of information is more likely to benefit your business and develop relationships with journalists. Set aside a regular time, such as 30 minutes a day, to develop and implement a PR strategy. Don’t forget that this doesn’t only mean sending out press releases – you could organise a survey, write to local editors, or expand your social media presence. Build strong relationships with journalists Relationships with journalists are like gold dust in the PR world, so it’s worth making a personal introduction and ensuring you treat them favourably. Make things easy for them – provide all important details and always be at the end of the phone. Look for around 6 – 12 ‘hungry’ journalists i.e. journalists that are looking for news regularly, particularly in your sector. Send out regular, professional news and talk to them often. That way you’ll develop strong contacts that will be useful as your business grows. Enter competitions for awards Many small companies are scared of entering awards, believing they aren’t good enough to win them. But winning established awards can do wonders for your business; it adds legitimacy and authority in a way that’s hard to get elsewhere. You need to be entering competitions regularly – aim for a target of one award a month and ramp this up as you develop greater capacity. If you aren’t winning competitions then your competitors are, and they then reap the rewards. Brush up on press release ‘etiquette’ Some companies do not understand that press releases have a defined structure and must include specific details that journalists require. Aside from answering the standard questions (what, where, when, who, how), press releases must include extra information on your company, media contacts, and other key information. Language should also be non-promotional and factual; inflated claims and emotional, loaded words will mark you as an amateur and could jeopardise your chances of getting your press release noticed. Start attending events Events are a great way to develop personal relationships and start networking with relevant local and national businesses. You may wish to attend events or even put on your own events – the latter is beneficial because it can help establish your business as an opinion leader. Attending events is important because there will be many opportunities for new business leads/opportunities at events, and you may be able to bypass the typical pitching process through a personal relationship, saving you time and money. Make events a regular part of your PR activity, whether they are business breakfasts, industry lunches or workshops.