This happens to me a lot.
I meet a smart business owner, tell them I teach PR and they’re keen to know more.
They know someone who doubled their client list, landed a book deal, secured a really juicy speaking gig (or something equally impressive) - and put it down to ‘great PR.’
They think it could be great for their business too.
The problem is, they’re not exactly sure what PR is (and are a bit embarrassed to ask).
If this sounds like you, here’s five questions you probably want to ask about PR:
So what exactly is PR?
There are dozens of definitions of PR on the internet, many of which are far more complicated - than they need to be.
For small businesses, I think it’s about raising awareness of who you are, what you do and what you stand for through coverage in newspapers, magazines, and on radio and TV.
In a wider sense, it’s also about your public image - about how you show up in the world. This can include anything from the way you dress, the look and feel of your website to how your answer the phone - all of which can have a big impact on how people see you and, crucially, whether they want to do business with you.
So how can PR help your business?
I hear a lot of vague reasons why people want PR for their business. Phrases like: ‘brand awareness’, ‘thought leadership’ or ‘influence.’
This is what happens when I dig a bit deeper:
‘Yes but why do you want brand awareness?’
‘Because I want to get a book deal’
‘And why do you want a book deal?’
‘Because I want to get more high profile speaking engagements.’
‘Why do you want more high profile speaking engagements?’
‘So I can attract higher paying clients.’
While the motivation might be different, most small business owners want PR because, ultimately, they want to make more money. Even the charities I work with see PR as a way to generate cash (after all, the more money they raise, the more people they can help).
So don’t be apologetic about being motivated by money. In fact, the clearer you are about what you want to achieve, the more successful you’ll be with your PR.
Being quoted in a newspaper article, featured in a glossy magazine or giving an interview on prime time TV will raise awareness of who you are, what you do and what you stand for.
This can help you win more clients (or the right kind of clients), get better paid speaking gigs, sell more books or whatever it is you need to do to make a living. If you have a deeper purpose, it can also help you share your message with the world. And you can’t do that if you’re starving in an attic.
You do need to be realistic; a one-off feature in a newspaper or radio interview probably isn’t going to make you millions. But a steady stream of newspaper and magazine articles, over time, will help you build your brand.
Why is PR better than advertising?
It’s cheaper, for a start.
A half page advert in a national newspaper could set you back thousands.
Being featured in newspaper and magazines articles, writing guest posts on sites like the Huffington Post or offering expert comment on stories already being covered in the media will only cost you your time.
And if a journalist has chosen to write about you (as opposed to dashing off advertising ‘puff’ because you’ve thrown money at them) it’s far more credible.
Can I do my own PR?
Anyone can pick up the phone (or fire off an email) to a journalist or radio/TV producer with a story idea.
You don’t need to work for a PR company or have prior experience.
All you need is a good idea or expertise on a particular subject.
How do I get started?
You can read this post on how to get press coverage for your small business and how to write a press release for your small business. Or you can sign up for my free five-day course on how to write press releases at the top of this page.