Try public relations to give your business a voice
The world of small business is competitive and even more so in the COVID-19 environment. Not only are you contending for market share and product sales, but every SME is also seeking more customer recognition for their brand.
Here our Head of Marketing & Partnerships, Oliver Wade, shares his thoughts on how PR can help your business cut through the noise.
The case for PR
Sir Richard Branson, who was once a small business owner himself, once famously remarked: “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.”[i]
While the Virgin founder has since discovered that not all publicity is good publicity, he’s right. Having your brand’s message published by a media outlet has an impact as it can reach a broad audience and is generally considered more ‘independent’ than other marketing communications tools such as advertising.
But for public relations to work well for your SME, you need to have a strong story to tell, as the message must bear the scrutiny of several journalists, chiefs of staffs, editors or news directors before it sees the light of day.
Where to start
Getting started with PR can be as easy as making a small list of key media to call and introduce yourself to, or by writing your first press release.
For example, you could promote your bakery by generating publicity about a member of your staff who recently won an international baking competition. You could send a media release to the newsrooms of your local newspapers or radio stations promoting the win, as well as jumping onto social media sites to connect with journalists who might cover this story.
Another effective way to start your publicity push is by emailing the journalists and bloggers that are most likely to write about your SME. Search for your product or industry on Google News, and look for the journalists that write about your industry frequently.
Simple copy achieves media cut-through
If you’re new to writing media releases, keeping the copy as simple as possible is the best course of action. Typically aim for a media release of about one page in length and recognise you are probably writing for a journalist that has never heard of your SME or its messages, services or products. Also, avoid jargon to give journalists the best chance of reviewing your copy quickly and making the decision to run with it.
A customer story, bringing to life the work of your SME will resonate with journalists, especially if it relates to an issue created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, a great case study can take your SME from interesting to newsworthy. In our Coronavirus dominated world, it’s also worth noting the media appears to be looking for unique ways that SMEs are providing support to their customers.
PR is a contact sport
Successful PR is founded on far more than just proficient storytelling. Building genuine relationships with journalists is essential and can be done by phone or in-person over a coffee.
Once you have taken the time to build these relationships, you’ll find a journalist or reporter will be more likely to contact you when writing stories about your industry or the small business sector generally. A valuable contact can also be a sounding board if you have an idea for a story but are unsure about how to pitch it to a media outlet.
Re-purpose your content for other channels
If you send out a press release, be sure to post it on your website, and any related commentary on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn or even Twitter. At OnDeck, if a media outlet features comments from one of our executives in a story online – we always share it on our social media channels.
You enhance the reputation of your SME when you regularly re-purpose your content to multiple audiences, and it doesn’t require a lot of time to do so. For example, a media release could quickly be rewritten as the lead story for a customer newsletter or other electronic communications.
In conclusion, PR can work for your SME just as well as it can for a bigger firm such as OnDeck. That said, many SMEs are uncertain when it comes to communicating with the media. Don’t be discouraged – enjoy the process, keep it simple and if you need some help, reach out to a local public relations agency in your suburb or town for some advice to help get you started.
Could an OnDeck loan help?
If you need a hand with financing to help execute a public relations, marketing or social media strategy, an OnDeck small business loan may be the answer.
Learn more about OnDeck loans
Prepared by OnDeck Capital Australia Pty Ltd ABN 28 603 753 215 (“OnDeck”) for general information purposes only. Content may belong to or have originated from third parties and OnDeck takes no responsibility for the accuracy, validity, reliability or completeness of any information. Information current as at August 2020. You should not rely upon the material or information as a basis for making any business, financial or any other decisions. Loans issued in Australia are subject to the terms of a loan agreement issued by OnDeck. Loans are subject to lender approval. OnDeck® is a Registered Trademark. All rights reserved.