PR is an everyday process, Emma Lawrence
Public Relations, or “PR”, is defined as
“the strategic management of relationships between an organisation and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realise organisational goals, and serve the public interest.”
When most business owners think of PR, they think of getting their name on the big screen surrounded by flashing lights, followed by a week of unending praise, jolly merriment, and overall elation that their brand was mentioned in the media. That is called publicity, a subset of PR, but PR in itself is, first and foremost, about directing attention away from oneself and to the public. Allow me to elaborate.
We need the public to buy our product or service, but in order to recruit loyal customers, we need to build a relationship with them first. How do we do that? By communicating with them, and ensuring they understand what it is we do and how it benefits them. And then we can achieve our goals. It’s what business should be like, right? Unfortunately many aren’t.
That’s where people like Emma Lawrence come in. She’s a seasoned media professional, editor, and journalist-turned PR entrepreneur who helps other business owners build relationships for a living.
Why do businesses spend their valuable resources on a PR service instead of doing it themselves? “There’s one thing all small business owners are short of,” says Emma, “[and that’s] time. So the immediate benefit of hiring a PR communication expert is that you can focus on working with your existing clients, while they turn their attention to the PR and marketing aspects of your business.”
“I’m also a big believer of outsourcing the tasks that someone else can do better and faster than you can. It often makes much more financial sense for you to spend your valuable time working with clients, rather than spending weeks trying to come up with a captivating brand story or writing copy for your website!
“The longer-term benefits of PR are raising your profile, building credibility and establishing yourself as the go-to expert in your industry. It does take time – PR is a marathon, not a sprint – but once you’ve built this kind of reputation, you have the luxury of clients coming to you, not you going after them.
“That said, if you’re just starting out and simply don’t have the budget to hire someone, that’s ok too. There are so many free resources and affordable training programmes available online to help you manage your own PR DIY-style.”
For example, we are very familiar with social media, one of the more commonly used free PR resources. Social media is a great channel for engaging existing and potential customers, and keeping them up to date with what you’re doing with your business. It is a tool that simply wasn’t available a decade ago.
“The viral nature of social media means word spreads quickly – run a cool contest on Facebook, ask for recommendations from your happy clients, and focus on delivering the highest quality free content to your audience.”
While social media is free to use, many people make the mistake of forgetting that they will need to manage it almost constantly for it to work effectively. Picture it like a free puppy that someone has given you. It’s comes at no cost to you and is cute at first. There aren’t really any problems. But then over the next few weeks, months, and years, it’s going to grow and start costing you time, energy, and valuable resources. You’ll have to feed it and get someone to look after it when you’re on holiday. It’ll require a large amount of devotion.
“PR is really about building relationships with the people who can make or break your business – clients, the media, industry influencers – so social media is a big part of that.
“Whether or not a business can rely solely on social media to do this really depends on the type of business you have and the clients you want to attract. But for the most part, I’d say every business should be looking at how they can use social media to connect and engage with the right people.
“A weekly or monthly email newsletter is another effective way to deliver advice and information to your client base, launch new offerings, and ensure you’re top of mind. Email providers such as MailChimp are easy to use and very affordable, if not free, depending on your email list size.”
There’s no denying that the services of big PR agencies are out of reach for most fledgling small business owners, so to keep it affordable Emma would recommend working with smaller businesses like your own or freelancers – there’s so much talent available and the Internet means you can work with people anywhere.
Hiring a PR agent is often less costly than using traditional advertising mediums, and the results can be more substantial than what advertisers will offer.
“One thing very few small businesses do well is pitch the media on a regular basis. Editorial coverage in mainstream media is not only free, but gives your business a massive credibility boost. Plan out a publicity calendar six months to a year in advance to ensure you don’t get caught out by lengthy lead-times, and research the topics different media outlets are covering that are relevant to your business to see how you can add to the conversation. You can also sign up for free media callouts with services such as www.sourcebottle.com. “
If you’d like to learn more about PR, or get a hands-on demonstration of how to grow your businesses using PR, Emma will be creating perfect course for you to attend – Create Free Publicity.
Create Free Publicity is a multimedia programme that teaches small business owners how to plan, create and leverage free media coverage for their business. The programme includes an e-book, PDF worksheets, how-to videos, sample press pitches and more – all of which can be accessed online from anywhere.
“Create Free Publicity is due for release in early February in time for businesses to start planning their publicity for the new financial year.”