FIONA’S ADVICE FOR MANAGING YOUR PR
1. Know the outcome
Do you know why you want PR, or what you’re expecting in return? For many creative small business owners, marketing and PR are things they feel they “should” be doing more of, but it’s not always clear why. Before you engage with a PR / communications expert, consider why you’re doing so. What would a successful PR campaign look like to you? What concerns, if any, do you have? Understanding your answers to these questions with help both your business and the PR agency / consultant you choose to engage.
2. Set expectations
After working with hundreds of small business owners, one of the most common myths I hear repeated is the idea that one media article or one influencer ‘liking’ an IG post will bring sudden fortunes to a struggling business. While when done well, PR offers an incredible boost to a brand, the stories of small businesses who have hit the jackpot from just one article or one collaboration with a (moderately-priced) influencer are few and far between. As with anything, brand awareness may take some time to achieve, so ensure that when you look at PR for your small biz, you’re aware that achieving the cut-through you seek may not happen overnight.
3. Do your research
The four experts we have interviewed in this article each have different approaches to PR and expertise in a variety of different industries. When choosing a PR / communications agency or consultant to work with, do your research to find the best fit. This person or this agency is representing your business, so it pays to find someone you feel comfortable enough to share your story with the public. You also want to find someone who has networks and connections in your industry and that you, as a small business owner, can really learn from and grow with. Experience counts and as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. Experienced PR is one area of your business that’s worth investing in.
4. Track, track, track
Brand awareness can be one of the hardest things to track, particularly when you’re working on offline tactics such as events, experiences or word of mouth marketing. Where possible though, consider how you will track the return on investment. This may be by setting up ongoing surveys on your website or asking customers in-store i.e. ‘where did you first hear about us?’, tracking website traffic or brand name searches before, during and after a PR activation/media campaign or simply looking at variations in sales pre and post working with an agency. Most agencies will offer some sort of reporting, so don’t be shy in asking them to explain how this works and what you should expect after 1, 3 or 6+ months of working with them.
5. Learn from the experience
Trends change, and what worked for your business yesterday may not achieve cut-through tomorrow. When it comes to garnering media attention, you’re also dealing with a certain level of uncertainty. Your giant launch may well go live the same day as a natural disaster or a major news story. Or, perhaps the influencer collaboration you have spent months planning launches the day Instagram updates an algorithm. When running a small business, there are very few, if any, guarantees. By working with an experienced PR / communications agency or consultant you are minimizing the risk of money being wasted, or worse, damaging your brand from a poorly thought out media campaign.
Fiona Killackey is a business consultant, author, and mentor for My Daily Business Coach. You can sign up to her weekly email full of small biz insights and tips here or purchase her goal setting (and getting) ebook here.