I know what you’re expecting–a blog post that’s a long-winded ‘yes, your business needs PR’. And, boy, are you going to get it. But first, what is PR, other than an industry that so ruffled Michael Winner’s feathers he once described it as a line of work for the family idiot?
This particular family idiot gets press coverage for small businesses and experts, in newspapers and magazines, and on the radio. We also turn our clients into podcasters and pundits, sit them on panels and put them forward for speaking opportunities. We seek out awards and write entries that win. We pinpoint influencers on YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram and try to find a way in. We write pithy responses to breaking news and issue comments, and we create long-form opinion editorial that really packs a punch.
The job partly involves working with journalists to get clients commenting in and contributing to their articles, but there’s also a lot of writing bylined features. We couple our content creation efforts with social media campaigns, so we can be sure that exactly the right audiences are reading what’s been written.
To summarise, good PR people draw out stories and offer expertise where it’s wanted, rather than peddling products or services where it’s not.
Build Trust and Credibility
Why should a small business spend money on PR? It boosts exposure and lets potential customers know that you exist while, crucially, giving you a voice to build trust and credibility, too. People trust what they read in reputable editorial sources, provided it is well-researched and quality copy. Even the not-so-discerning reader can spot keyword-stained marketing filler a mile off. We’re all so bombarded with content that we’ve become experts at limiting and curating what we read. Thus, PRs have to be just as good at writing as journalists (and that’s why many of us once were).
You need PR if you want specific audiences to know about you and your business and if you want some element of control over how you’re perceived. It may be that you’re already struggling with managing your reputation in an industry where customers seem to only write reviews when you’ve done something wrong (like insurance), or that you just want to get it right from the off.
If it’s just the odd piece of coverage you’re after, look at agencies with flexible terms or pay-on-results options. Or have a go yourself. Start by following #journorequest on twitter. Reply to any requests from journalists that are relevant to you with well-crafted responses that really answer the question.
But a word of warning. Do not do PR if you are only interested in getting backlinks. Although many will, some media publications do not link. If you want links, put your money into SEO with a reputable agency that has a proven track record (like DPOM!). While there is a little overlap, SEO and PR are very different disciplines. The latter is about reputational control, building trust and credibility, and showing off your industry expertise, while both will expose you to new audiences.
Also, be willing to commit some time to the process and making the relationship work, especially at the beginning. A good PR agency will just get on with the job, but they will need your thoughts on different topics and breaking news, and they will need fast sign off if they are to get you press coverage.
Guest post by Emily Garnham of Tartle Media
Emily Garnham founded her Brighton-based business, Tartle Media, a couple of years ago, after spending seven years doing much the same in Soho and three years as a journalist on a national newspaper. Realising it was nonsensical to add a three-hour commute to her long working day, she moved to the seaside. Now her commute is a 15-minute cycle along the seafront, to Hove actually, as the starlings murmur over the pier. Tartle works with startups and small businesses, many of whom have never had any press coverage before. They also write blogs for startups. Follow their page on LinkedIn for the latest posts.