Eight essential PR tips for small businesses

Now that your business is set up, your next goal is to ensure that word about your business gets to as many potential clients as possible. For this to happen, you need a PR strategy that helps you achieve the required objectives without breaking the bank.

Starting a small business anywhere in the world can be a daunting and expensive venture. More so, in Nigeria, where most of the factors necessary to set up a business rests on the entrepreneur with little or no support from government institutions.

Now that your business is set up, your next goal is to ensure that word about your business gets to as many potential clients as possible. For this to happen, you need a PR strategy that helps you achieve the required objectives without breaking the bank.

Here are 8 essential tips to reach your target audience on a budget.
Stay connected: Getting your audiences to listen to you is quite simple. The secret is to craft a story around your brand – a story that audiences can relate to.

Many PR experts describe this as ‘humanizing your brand’. This involves telling audiences about your brand essence, its backstory, and its overall mission with a view to building an atmosphere of trust. And since most people tend to do business only with people/brands they trust, you would have succeeded in getting something going here.

Build media relationships: Doing business is mostly about forming relationships – and media relationships are more than just a nice-to-have. To establish your brand and create top-of-mind awareness among your target audience you need the help of journalists who cover your industry. Reaching out to them and building a relationship before you need their help wouldn’t be such a bad idea as this may be the difference between your business making lift-off or staying grounded.

Pitch that story: Now that you have the relationship part sorted out, you need to pitch your story to journalists and popular blogs who can help your push your brand. This is, however, not that simple as you need to justify to them why they should use your story, press release, or any other content.

Your job is to craft your content in a way that the journalist see it as relevant to their audiences. A well-crafted ‘newsworthy’ content does not need to be paid for, so it you want to get your brand story out there, you might need to spend a lot of time perfecting your pitch.

Build your profile: At this stage of your business growth, much of the success gained by your personal brand reflects on your business. Therefore you need to take every opportunity you get in presenting yourself as a subject expert.

Write articles, opinion pieces, blog posts on your journey as a service/solution provider. You need to try as much as possible to be broadminded in your approach so as not to sound opportunistic – remember your overall objective is to position your brand as a problem solver while volunteering your expertise free of charge.

Understand winning press releases: A big part of getting your story out there to the public is crafting press releases that delivers your message. It’s amazing the sheer number of press releases out there that will never pass the press test. If you can’t find a professional to help draft a proper release then here’s a solution: identify a press release that has been published by credible media platforms and re-engineer it to fit your purpose.

Review the content to understand why it was a good sell and structure your press release after it. As a rule, ensure your press release is not only newsworthy, but also straight to the point. Trust me, no journalist wants to go through the trouble of demystifying a badly written press release.

Keep your focus: It’s important not to be fixated on the big catch, sometimes what your product/service needs is a niche market, or brand influencers who have the capacity/social media followers/goodwill to help your small business turn the curve. Sometimes what you need is to focus on a platform – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, WhatsApp etc – consistently provide content, jump on trending topics and relevant hashtags then monitor closely to see what works and what doesn’t.

Bigger brands can afford to establish their presence on multiple platforms at a time, but nothing acts as a leveller better than great, relatable content with the capacity to go viral.

Now listen up: Now that you’ve got your word out, all you have to do is listen carefully to the conversation about your brand. One way to do this is to set up tools like Google Alerts to help you monitor your mentions. With this you can analyse if your DIY PR effort is gaining traction or not. It’s also a useful way to know what your competition is doing while gaining a better understanding of your business environment. Don’t forget, the aim is to learn better ways of getting your word out, not getting fixated by your competition.

Don’t forget to collaborate: It is important to partner with other organizations to achieve better brand positioning. Collaborating with a media platform in delivering an event or other kinds of engagement is a sure way to get needed mileage for your brand as it gives you an opportunity to leverage on their ‘ready made’ brand assets to reach a larger audience.

And a bonus point…
Have a damn good product! There’s no PR stronger than a happy customer. No ambassador more effective than a satisfied customer. Research shows that 84 per cent of customers say they would more likely make a buy decision based on recommendations from friends and family, and another 88 per cent from online reviews based on customer experience.

The show debuted in April 2011 with 2.2 million viewers (on HBO alone) and rose to about 2.7 million during the eighth episode. Although it dipped to 2.6 million in the ninth episode, the reaction and viral conversations that followed the shocking death of Ned Stark led to the most-viewed episode ever in the first season, with the 10th garnering more 3.04 million viewers. These were good numbers for any good television show, but they were obviously not record-breaking.

Below are some of the lessons from the Game of Thrones that any brand manager can replicate.

Create Your Own Community. It is vital.
Millions of viewers, including global brands – from Pizza Hut, Burger King, Pringles, to the New York Jets, Access Bank, Facebook, and many others decided to play, and by the 8th Season this year, it opened to 17.2 million viewers. This was an increase of 10.1 million viewers from the premiere of the previous Season, even though it leaked online hours before. Interestingly, many had waited for a year for the return of the final season, but they refused to watch the leaked episode and preferred to join millions of loyal viewers who all wanted to watch it at the same time.

This is the nature of the content consumer; the audience who crave interrupted brand communication that is built on common interests, excitement, and the trust created through consistency and unique storytelling. For eight years, the business and creative minds behind the series held the viewers in its grip, showing that while the consumer might be right always, the content itself remains king. They are not inherently opposed to brand communication, but they crave engagement marketing, a dynamic in which they want to connect and be acknowledged as unique individuals.

Create a feeling. It’s best when it’s a positive one.
Right from the topographic opening credits, to the love-hate relationships with the characters and the storyline, we were emotionally invested in what happens next. Letting them behind the curtain also helps you demonstrate both confidence and vulnerability, which makes audiences more eager to trust you and accept your expertise.

Too many brands are so focused on what they want to create, not what their audience needs. The current stage in brand marketing is about a battle of emotions, and the winner now takes all. For years, Game of Thrones constantly broke the rules of TV storytelling – Never kill your darlings. It started with Ned Stark, and the audience could not turn away.

Again, know your audience
Have the perfect ideas, create and understand audience personas, and let that be the beacon for everything the brand does. Shortly after its 2011 debut, a scathing New York Times review dismissed the series as “boy fiction” and suggested that no woman alive would watch it. Everyone who has witnessed the gory and sometimes oversexualised scenes might be inclined to agree. But by the second season till the finale this year, the massive viewer base was largely about 52 percent male and 48 percent female, meaning that HBO had captured both principal demographics.
In addition, according to Fizziology, which tracks social media buzz about TV shows, women were having a full 50 percent of the online conversations about Game of Thrones, which were mostly positive. While the story is set in medieval times when women were depicted as tools and pawns, there was a Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Margaery Tyrell, Catelyn Stark, Melisandre, Brienne of Tarth, and so many others who were even more diverse than the male characters. So either has a male or a female fan, there was an arc for everyone.

Be Different
A lot of critics had scoffed at the notion that a swords-and-shields fantasy series, complete with dragons, giants and evil ice creatures who raise armies of the undead, would survive that long. By its fourth Season, Game of Thrones had surpassed much-beloved crime drama The Sopranos as the network’s most-watched show. In its seventh Season in 2017, its numbers had ballooned to an average of 31 million viewers (across all platforms) per episode.
The fastest way to approach a downturn is to adopt a brandspeak that sounds like every other one. While a lot of brand managers know this, they seemingly have to know way to dig themselves out. So while many brands might be speaking to the same people, the brand that intends to exist longer and prosper has to find its own language, and establish a different kind of voice. Failure to do that means getting lost in the noise.
Because, while there were other shows like it (Rome, Spartacus, Vikings, The Tudor, etc.), you had a Night King who could raise the dead, war with a queen who controlled dragons, and King of the North who had no heartbeat. How do you beat that?

Source: TheGuardian

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