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By Deirdre Breakenridge |

5 PR Tips for Small Business Owners

pr tips for small business owners

You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company with deep pockets to have a successful public relations program.

As a matter of fact, as a small business, there’s one key competency that leads to PR success: It’s your ability to build relationships with people.

I’m often asked about the best ways for small businesses to capitalize on PR if they’re on a shoestring budget. With a minimal time commitment and a good solid focus on connecting and advancing relationships, you’ll be on your way to building stronger bonds that create PR impact.

Here are a few PR tips for small business owners; they’ll get you started without having to pay large agency retainer fees or shell out for costly events. Devote some time and energy to these and I guarantee you’ll see results.

1. Offer your expertise on stage.

You may not have a national audience at the start. However, reaching out to build relationships with local/regional organizations and offering to speak at their upcoming events is a great way to help them fill a speaker roster and showcase your thought leadership.

You’ll have both the platform and the audience to share your expertise. Sure, speaking engagements require your time. However, the more you work with the organizers and speak at these events, the better your chances of being recommended to speak on a national platform. At the same time, you’re increasing your awareness among potential customers who will view you as the expert.

2. Use free tools to connect with bloggers/the media.

There are a number of free tools to help you find media and bloggers who are interested in specific types of stories, or who may want to interview your company’s subject-matter experts.

One of my favorite tools is HARO (Help a Reporter Out), which is a daily newsletter with requests from journalists looking for targeted information and credible sources to interview. It lets you create thoughtful pitches that go directly to interested media professionals through the HARO platform.

3. Customize news stories through a content platform.

As a small business, there will be times when you  want to share your news through mainstream media. Using a paid wire service will let you cast a wider net to reach more media outlets and see who interacts with your story.

But when you’re on a smaller budget, you may want to customize your stories through a publishing platform that lets you reach different stakeholders. Here’s where a service like PitchEngine is really helpful. PitchEngine allows you to build a story for the media, bloggers, investors, and even your customers—anyone interested in your news announcement.

4. Use social media to build business relationships.

Social media is the quickest way to connect with like-minded people and take the relationship from the virtual into the physical realm. Through in-depth discussions, social media has helped me connect and build relationships with other executives resulting in interview opportunities, speaking engagements, and new business.

And remember, when it comes to social media, you don’t have to be everywhere. Select the communities where you know your audience congregates, and start your networking virtually. With every targeted connection there’s an opportunity to advance a business relationship.

5. Solve problems by sharing valuable information.

Using Google Alerts and other free social-media monitoring tools, “listen” or monitor keywords in your social-media communities. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn the “pain points” of your community members (ie. your customers). Whatever the hot topics or critical issues on their minds, you can write blog posts, create videos, share Facebook posts, and write eBooks to help them solve their challenges. If you can solve a challenge, you’ll make friends. You can build stronger bonds when you gather information and share the content to help customers make better decisions and to find better solutions.

These are a handful of ways that PR can help small businesses build relationships, gaining awareness and recognition that result in loyalty and advocacy. You can start slowly or go all-in with your program.

As a small business, don’t let your size or your resources slow you down. Remember that your program starts with your commitment to build a relationship with people who, in turn, will be loyal and will advocate on your behalf.

To learn more, watch my course Public Relations Fundamentals on lynda.com, including the free videos:


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