I have just featured in the Sunday Times. I now have 1422 new leads to my business and 150 new clients. Really? In theory, it could happen, but it is doubtful to have this effect instantly for a small business owner. However, Public Relations or PR is still critical to marketing our businesses. So, what is PR? It is essentially your relationship with your public. These could be your clients and prospective customers, your audience, network, and industry peers. For example, recently, I appeared in an online blog for Prowly, which is within my industry. Expert features bring satisfaction and respect that makes you want to go to the next level.
For me, PR is about great storytelling. As a qualified graphic designer, I used to tell stories in pictures, but I learned the art of written communication, both as an academic and as a Media Officer at a charity for ten years. I learned how words can change perception yet still maintain integrity. People are often sceptical about marketing because the message is deliberately purposeful and persuasive. Our advertisements, websites, newsletters, emails, content on our social media and anywhere else that we control the content is called Owned Media.
In comparison, media coverage, word of mouth, business reviews, blog posts and any publicity you have not created or paid for is called Earned Media. In PR, there are no guarantees it is an “earned” promotion. One way to reach media publications is to create a press release, but I appreciate how busy journalists, editors and producers are, so I pitch first with a link to Dropbox or Google Drive where the press release resides. Knowing what journalists and editors are interested in is essential, and it is called their “Beat”. One way to find out what stories they are looking for is on Twitter and follow the hashtag #journorequests. Last week I was talking to the Daily Mail. Although the journalist didn’t publish my contribution at the time, I imagined my mother reading her paper of choice over her nut clusters and discovering me within it.
So, this is just a part of what PR consists of, but what is it not? If you go back to the beginning of this article, it was a lie. As a Chartered Institute of Public Relations member, I signed a code of conduct to behave with integrity. That is why it is the core of my marketing strategies as I work towards getting my clients the credibility they deserve as subject matter experts.
Although I use social media, it is essentially these credibility pieces that provide a quality, not a quantity of content. Added to an engagement strategy and a combined approach of Earned, Owned and this Shared Media through social media, I create a level of visibility that works for small business owners without using Paid Media or advertising. Your reputation in this way may be why prospective customers will use you. In a competitive market, it could be the only reason. So why not make PR part of your marketing strategy?