THE WOODLANDS, Texas - We define public relations as “the accurate, consistent and timely communication of the right message to the right audience.” Today there is no reason why small business types cannot develop a simple but effective public relations plan to reach that audience. Traditionally, most small companies have neglected public relations as part of their marketing plan. PR was left to larger corporate marketers with juicy budgets and plenty of staff. The arrival of hands-on social tools, search, and web marketing has changed all of that. Now is the time for your small company to reap the rewards of an effective public relations plan.
Whether you are trying to get your message out to a small, local audience or a broader, national audience, public relations can pay big dividends for small to mid-size companies. Don’t be afraid to create a simple public relations plan for your business. Hash out a basic plan and then put it into action. Decide beforehand whether you or a staffer will execute the plan, write the articles, collect photos, build a target media list, and be responsible for making it work. You are far more likely to be successful and see encouraging results if you outline your PR objectives, actions, and method for measuring results.
Develop Your PR Plan
Identify Your ObjectivesWhat do you want to accomplish? Be specific. Getting “more sales” is not an adequate objective. It’s too broad. However, gathering 500 more Facebook “likes” or having a media release published in a dozen new print or Web outlets is precise. Having lunch with one new local media decision-maker each month is a good goal. Driving 25 percent more traffic to your website in a six month period, works.
Define the Plan of Action
Once you define your goals, research and determine the best tools to execute your plan. Social media marketing, guest columns for the local newspaper or trade journal, media releases distributed to your target news list are all good tactics for small business. Volunteer for a charity board and give of your time; get to know new people in your community. Craft a professional Facebook business page and commit to a regular content strategy. For example, post two wall updates seven days a week; invite comments and ask questions. Do not broadcast simple, boring ads! Offer your expertise as a resource to help friends, fans, followers and potential customers make the right decisions. Determine the best way to get your message in front of your target audience.
How will you keep a scorecard of the effectiveness of your hard work? Bookmark the news outlet websites where you send your media releases. Follow up a day or two after emailing your submission and chat briefly with the editor/producer. Don’t waste their time, and try to provide useful, interesting newsworthy articles, not advertising.
Follow your “mentions” on Twitter and search for your handle in Twitter search to see who is re-tweeting your news. Finally, get to know Google Alerts and how to use them. Choose keywords/phrases and Google will email you each time your selection is found by the engine’s omnipresent crawlers scouring the Web 24/7 across billions of Web pages.
Act on Your New Plan
Once you have laid the groundwork, do your homework — contact editors, reporters, make a contact list, write and edit your media releases, then “pull the trigger”. A public relations plan is neither cheap nor easy. It will require your hard work even if you are working with a hired PR professional. The payoff will be a more robust marketing effort creating broader, more lasting results, extending your audience, and communicating the right message about your business to the right audience.
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