For entrepreneurs who have no previous public relations (PR) experience, this can be an area of their enterprise operation that proves difficult to get right. Yet, a successful PR campaign can work wonders for a business' bottom line, so it is an area that requires utmost attention.
In short, PR refers to how a business conveys a message to an audience, typically in an accurate, consistent and suitable manner. Its objective is to simply get the word out about a company's products or services.
Grapevine PR has just launched a new PR e-book designed specifically to help small businesses and start-ups in order for them to handle their own marketing. It is a comprehensive and very affordable training and support package that should allow firms to achieve effective press coverage and improve relations with the media. Subjects covered include "how to create a PR plan", "what the media wants" and "how to get the best from a media interview".
"I am approached by many small businesses that understand the need to promote their businesses but are unsure how to take advantage of marketing as a tool," said Mel Betts, director of Grapevine PR.
"Many of these organisations have great business ideas but need cost effective advice on how best to promote their innovative product or service."
The e-book is available from Amazon but, in the meantime, these handy tips should help improve business PR.
Understand the audience
This may seem obvious, but a business should be very clear about the target audience for its product or service. Only by knowing this can a campaign be specifically tailored to this group, delivering them a clear and relevant message.
It is important to remember that the audience can stretch beyond customers to include the local media, suppliers, neighbouring firms and competitors. These groups all have the power to communicate information about the company.
Develop a plan
PR plans do not have to be deeply complex and in-depth to succeed. They must, however, establish a few key steps. Firstly, there must be objectives the business seeks to achieve. Secondly, the positioning of the company must be clear, which refers to how it is to be perceived by the audience. Lastly, there should be key messages that the firm wants to get across, such as facts about the operation.
It is also helpful to know which media outlets the audiences typically engage with. This can help to inform publications the PR campaign should target.
Create the content
Once the plan is established, the next step is to create the PR content. The emphasis should be on innovative and fresh ideas that have a key hook, as this will grab the attention of writers and journalists and make them easy to turn into interesting stories.
Messages should be clear and succinct, while providing high quality images alongside the written copy will be highly beneficial. Often the difference between a press release being published or not will be whether the editors can bring the story to life with images.
Including freebies with a press release, whether it's a product or a service, is also a great way to get noticed by journalists.
Foster good relationships with the media
Developing a friendly business relationship with a number of media outlets will boost the likelihood of a company's press releases being covered. The focus should primarily be on journalists, as they offer the main point of contact between a start-up company and a publication.