Article: PR and Websites Building Legends Together

PR or public relations

You have worked hard on your marketing, promotion and personality ‘P’s’ and now to the final P, as in the use of PR or public relations, not advertising. Even though advertising works, it is expensive and has diminishing returns. In our information overload environment, a small business cannot afford to really break through with advertising alone.

There is a better way: Legend building through public relations. Let the news media, customers, professional peers, and the community sing your praises. Use your advertising dollars for better purposes. After all, good public relations are a process, not a flash-in-the-pan event or series of events. To put your business on the public relations (PR) map, you need a long-term public relations plan.

Make news instead of noise. Your plan should suit your environment and goals by mixing a precisely targeted combination of visibility in professional organizations, excellence in local business, activities in civic organizations, and communications with and through the media. If you make news, tell the media about it. But never bombard them with hype, non-newsworthy press releases, or demands for coverage. Learn to write good press releases and distribute them to the media that your potential customers see.

Small businesses home-based or not, frequently have meager resources. That means you are forced to rely on inexpensive and free PR tactics to attract customers. Another problem is that as a small or home-based business usually you will face credibility issues because of your size and relative obscurity. You, as a small-business owner, are off the public’s radar screen while your larger, established competitors have a large advertising budget, a history, impressive offices and sadly, are more readily reported in the press.

The best way around this inequality (besides a massive ad blitz) is a public relations campaign that emphasizes your community involvement, experience, and integrity. Join business and community organizations and look for opportunities to publicize your activity to earn an image as a solid member of the business community.

You need to establish a solid, relevant, memorable image; a good PR plan to implant that image in the minds of your target market; the right media list; and goals and strategies to make and publicize news. While you cannot afford much advertising, your PR efforts can play to your strength of local community ties.

You must take advantage of the two great equalizers in the business world, these being your Web site and PR. These can either make you look solid or insubstantial to your target audience. If your Web site is well-designed and effectively promoted, and if you send solidly written press releases about real news events to the right media outlets at the right time, you can look as impressive and solid as any larger enterprise in the world. Just remember that you have as much or more of a presence on the local level as the local giant; look for ways to make a positive impact on the local community and then publicize them.

As a small business, your goal is to establish an image of businesslike solidity, not to use smoke and mirrors to misrepresent your size. Home-based business is more common and accepted than ever these days. Consequently, the best strategy is to treat size as a non-issue by ignoring it. As for dealing with the credibility problems that come from being new or small, the best way to work through any business credibility problem is by inspiring customer confidence.

Stress the benefits of doing business with your company in all your promotions; develop an impressive, credible guarantee; and then publicize it. If people feel they will be well served as customers and will be protected by a money-back guarantee and a return policy, they will not have a problem with either newness or size. They want their problems solved and look to the business that can best get the job done for them. This is your story, tell it well. – John Shenton – June, 2002