10 Back-to-School PR Tips for Small Businesses

For many families, back-to-school is a time of anticipation and excitement. It also happens to be one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year. In case you didn’t realize it Back-to-School translates into PR opportunities for millions of small businesses across the country.

As we head into Labor Day weekend, back-to-school is already well on its way. That said, there are still plenty of opportunities to squeeze your business into a story about kiddos, parents and teachers transitioning to the new school year.

Below is a list of businesses that can benefit from a back-to-school PR campaign, plus a suggestion on what to pitch the media. Don’t forget to take notes. There may be a test after you finish reading!

  1. Tutoring service: parents constantly fret about their kids’ grades, and spend millions on tutors every year. If you are a tutoring service doing your own PR, consider pitching your local media (early morning TV news shows are ideal) with an easy-to-follow plan every family can employ to address reading, math and other subject deficiencies. You will get credit for the helpful ideas and see a spike in phone calls about your service.
  2. College placement exam prep: fall is a BIG time for college placement exams, and parents want to know their options for helping their kids get higher test scores. Follow the tips for the tutoring service above and you may find the local news interested in interviewing you.
  3. Hair salons specializing in treating lice: back-to-school also means an increase in the pesky lice problem that often plagues schools every year. Get out ahead of the next outbreak by suggesting ways to avoid lice, as well as safe, organic ways to deal with the nasty bug.
  4. Student life coaches: some coaches specialize in helping students be more effective students by addressing their organizational skills, study skills, and even diet (sodas are notorious attention-killers). This is a unique approach that addresses the source of a student’s issues as opposed to the symptoms: how he or she conducts daily life. Reaching out to local media with tips for parents should be a no-brainer.
  5. Fundraiser suppliers (cookies, etc.): there are companies that supply the goodies for those ubiquitous school fundraisers; a PR campaign can raise the awareness of your company among educators, coaches, PTA and parents. Perhaps you can share tips on how to run a fundraiser that raises 2x the normal amount by suggesting ways to turn unmotivated kiddos into super sellers even Zig Ziglar would be proud of.
  6. Consignment stores: small consignment stores are a great resource for parents who dread having to blow their savings on back-to-school stuff. Bargains abound at consignment stores and getting the news about the budget-friendly alternative is bound to interest local news media outlets.
  7. Teacher resources: teachers regularly have to come up with innovative ways to accomplish the impossible – educate our kids on a ever shrinking budget. If you provide help to teachers in any capacity, then let the local, and even national, media know about your innovative ideas and successes. You may get a feature on CNNMoney!
  8. School behavior experts or authors: if you have a reputation as a child behavior expert, then back-to-school is prime time for your PR efforts. It’s when most kids have issues conforming to highly standardized behavioral expectations. If, for example, you specialize in dealing with drug prevention, then consider approaching local Mommy bloggers with a guide on how to detect and deal with adolescent drug use.
  9. Gyms or fitness coaches: childhood obesity is a major health problem impacting an entire generation of kids and their parents from a variety of perspectives: physical, emotional, financial. A fitness coach or local gym could develop an easy 20-minute cardio program designed to be done every day after school before homework time. Include healthy snack suggestions to round out your daily exercise list and you have created a template for families in your community to follow.
  10. Gaming video stores: in recent years video games have gotten a bad rep (perhaps even deserved) given the amount of time kids spend gaming instead of playing or studying. What if your video game store ran a program awarding kids with free games based on attaining a level of exercise over a period of time? You would be promoting a balanced approach to gaming, and parents (and the media) would love you for it.

Many of these suggestions are “evergreen,” meaning they can be used year after year. You just have to be the first one to pitch the idea!

Happy pitching!

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech PR 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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