We know some pretty smart ladies. Every few months we have those women share their expertise and take the stage on the Betty blog. Today we have Dana Swinney, a PR Pro. Dana knows her stuff. Seriously. Make sure you bookmark this! (Oh, and check out her website for more PR brilliance.) [divider_line]
BITE SIZE PR FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
Why do I need PR anyway? I’m glad you asked! A well-crafted PR campaign will raise both media and consumer awareness of your business. By cultivating positive relationships with the media and creating publicity via the media, businesses enhance their chances for growth and positive image building. Simply put, the buzz about your business begins and remains through the media. Most importantly, public relations builds credibility and gives YOU control over your story. Small businesses especially need to focus on PR. Some would even argue that the credibility associated with media coverage is even more valuable than ad placements. Your marketing budget should include PR out the gate, but if your budget is stretched and you just need some tips to get started on your own, then keep on reading….
When your budget is small but your PR dreams are big, here’s where to start:
1. Give Good Love
What causes pull at your heartstrings? It is likely that the business you started is your passion and the causes that would best fit for you to give back to may be related. Are you a chef? Perhaps you’d like to help feed the homeless? Do you own a business in the field of technology? Maybe education is where you would like to give back? Take some time to think about what feels good for you and may be related to work you are already passionate about.
If a monetary donation isn’t in your budget, give your time. Volunteering is another way to become active with your chosen charity. You could also find a way to have your employees donate time by dedicating a set amount of work time to a charity, such as mandating that every Friday morning everyone reports to a shelter or book fair for two hours instead of the office. This is just as valuable as donating money. While you are doing the good, wear team T- shirts and chat about your business when appropriate.
Even if you don’t ever get business from these efforts, doing good feels good and do it for that reason alone. A boss lady who feels good can take over the world. And let’s be honest, volunteering is good for your karma bank.
2. Social Media (Duh!)
Ok so the majority of small business owners have this one down, or so they think. If what you are doing works, keep at it. However social media is an ever-evolving landscape. So while you may be well versed in Twitter and Facebook for your business, always be aware of what is up and coming. For example the Periscope app for live streaming on Twitter and Redditt are worth looking into.
Do your research and stay up on social media trends. And don’t forget -don’t just promote, but engage. The majority of your posts should have valuable content, not be overtly self-promotional.
The word “network” understandably makes some people cringe. So let’s say….ummmm…..“mingle”. Keep in mind that as a small business, you are at all times representing your business and your brand. Go to the right parties with the right people and be your usual witty and engaging self. There is no better way to kick start word of mouth and make a lasting impression than to engage in a personal connection. Just be careful not to over do it. If the person isn’t making eye contact or disappears to the nearest restroom, then you went too hard. Gauge your audience and remember this is a super soft sell. Be personable, mention your business, but don’t pull out an iPad with the PowerPoint presentation of your business plan. Easy tiger!
4. Toot Toot
Look for the best opportunities to create general awareness in the media. Yes, toot your own horn or better yet, hire a publicist to do it for you. All of the above options work best as a way to compliment a PR campaign. If you must start off doing it yourself, then have at it. But as your business grows so will your need for professional public relations efforts. Hiring a publicist gives you access to all of their media connections, expertise and most of all allows you to focus on what you do best. [divider_line]
Dana Swinney is a PR natural, who has sharpened her skills working with the top media outlets on both the east and west coast, and most of the markets in-between. Past clients have included well known food brands, chefs, law offices, authors, etc. Her skillset expands several industries. Having worked with national media from the Huffington Post, Forbes, The Today Show, The Better Show, Life and Style Magazine, Bloomberg Radio, NPR, and CNN to some of the top bloggers online, Dana’s relationships with the media continues to thrive.