Should you make a PR strategy for your small business?

The year is rapidly coming to a close, which means many small businesses will soon start the annual soul-searching and budgeting process.

One thing I have noticed over the years of running PR over Coffee is that most businesses rarely come up with an PR strategy to execute throughout the year. The famous dictum that comes to mind is “Most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.

Why plan for PR, you ask? Because there are media opportunities happening ALL the time, opportunities that you can create on your own, as well as ones that are happening in the news any given day. Wouldn’t you rather the media talk about your business as opposed to your competition?

Since this post is about PR Strategy, let’s review what some of the questions you should ask yourself as you look to create one for your business:

  1. What is your key differentiation as a business in your community or industry? Are you best known for: Donuts, Gardening, Bird Watching, Goat Cheese, Spa Treatments, Tutoring, Tatoos, etc.? Your primary differentiation should be your overall guide as you create your strategy. In other words, seek to gain as much attention for your “claim to fame” as you possibly can.
  2. What are holidays or national Days, Weeks or Months that have been set aside to commemorate what you do? For instance, September 18 is National Cheeseburger Day, September is National Yoga Month, and the 4th week of June is National Camping Week. Design a special offering around one of these national awareness campaigns and you will make an appealing (and timely) subject for news coverage!
  3. What are competitors doing to get news coverage? If it works for them, then it will work for you!
  4. What media covers your business type or industry the most? This can include your local newspapers, morning TV news shows, magazines, trade journals, blogs, e-zines, etc. Any of these can be a great source of media coverage for your business. Also, check to see if they have an editorial calendar so you can pitch them when they plan to cover your topic or industry. Leave no media stone uncovered!
  5. What are you upcoming promotions, initiatives, and accomplishments? Part of your strategy should be to translate your marketing plan into message “hooks” for the media. (Be advised: selling the media on a story is much different than passing along a marketing message, which is guaranteed to annoy even the most mild-mannered reporter.) Company milestones, hiring plans, product roll-outs, a round of funding for a tech startup – all can and should be incorporated into your PR strategy.
  6. Is your website ready for the traffic? A pleasant byproduct of great media coverage is more website traffic. Making sure your website is worthy of the attention should be part of your PR strategy, even if it’s more of a marketing task. The website should be both functional and pleasant on the eyes (a well optimized website for search engines is a must have).
  7. Finally, how are you holding yourself accountable? If you don’t have a hammer over your head, then you may not take the execution very seriously. Find somebody who won’t let you get away with mediocre performance and make sure he or she will slap you upside the head if you drop the ball!

These are just some of the questions that are important to consider when coming up with your PR strategy. There are always more to ask and I’m happy to answer any you have in the comments section below.

So as you ponder your PR potential, don’t forget to find your support group, create a PR strategy, and hold each other accountable. You too will soon see the media buzz begin to build around your business!

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR & marketing agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

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