To start, review your overall business and branding goals. As we suggest in Step 9 of 10 Steps to Open for Business, it’s important to be in tune with your benefits and unique qualities and how you’d like media members to perceive them. This will help you decide which public relations activities to pursue to achieve success.
With a clear concept of your brand in mind, it’s time to get organized with a PR Plan. This action plan will include all of the activities you need conduct to meet your public relations goals. Your PR Plan will contain information unique to your business, but here are some ingredients you’ll want to include:
Just because you’re a small business it doesn’t mean you should think small. List the top media venues you’d like to pursue for a story or quote. If you’ve always dreamed of being on the cover of Fortune Small Business Magazine, a guest on The Today Show or mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, write it down. As a small business owner, you actually have a good chance of being mentioned in top media venues if you follow our step-by-step prescription.
Along with the “big thinking” we recommend, also identify smaller and local media you should target. Often times, local media will cover a story in a different way than national media, offering you additional channels to connect with readers, viewers and listeners.
Take all the information researched earlier, and write down the top concepts about your business that you want publicized. This way, you can stay focused and know the most important story angles and ideas to pitch when you reach out to the media.
Before you contact the media or post a press release, ask yourself if your story is newsworthy. It must have an “angle” in order to get media attention.
Get into the mind of reporters you’re targeting by familiarizing yourself with stories they’ve done in the past. By studying the angles of stories they’ve previously covered, you can be smart about customizing your story to appeal to them. Ingredients of a compelling story angle include things like specific, special benefits of your product or service, groundbreaking innovations, current industry trends that you’re leading or following, special aspects of your personal background and/or triumphs in your business life, novel business practices, and other attention-getting variations. Developing your angle can be challenging, but it can mean the difference between front-page news and the trash bin, so don’t skimp here. One note, an “angle” is typically not directly self-serving. Reporters don’t like doing “commercials” – they like stories with editorial integrity. So be diplomatic!
By participating in various events, you can meet potential customers while increasing your chances of being mentioned in the press. Look for charitable functions, industry-specific organization meetings, or other activities where your target audience will be present. Also consider giving presentations and creating your own events. Your leadership may gain you the curiosity of the media and draw in new customers.
Look for various industry, technology, service, and Web awards you and team members can enter. By receiving recognition for an award, you can build credibility and increase company awareness.
Think of pertinent organizations, businesses and groups that may by interested in partnering with you on various events, marketing campaigns, charitable functions, and other activities. By working with a larger, established business and their marketing team, you’ll be able to build media awareness faster and more cost-effectively.
Make a list of various reports, tips sheets, articles, blogs, newsletters, and more that you can offer to the media and your target market. By providing valuable information on a regular basis, you can establish your expertise in a particular field, increase credibility, build your customer base, and create new media relationships.
After you have all of your ideas in place, get organized. Develop a schedule and timeline for each of the activities in your publicity plan by day, week, month, and year. And be sure to include some kind of method to track your success. At monthly or quarterly intervals, you’ll want to review your publicity activities and results. This way, you can monitor your success and make appropriate changes for the future.
By writing down your action steps with specific deadlines, you will be more likely to save time and money and achieve your media goals faster.