Six tips for small business on the best PR tactics to use

public relations
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Understanding PR tactics is crucial for small businesses and startups trying to attract media attention for their business. When buying PR services, either on retainer or as projects, it’s important to understand the common tactics that will be used, so that you can help your PR team get the best results, cut through the noise and secure coverage.

Understanding the right timing for each approach and knowing what your PR team will need from you to make it work is crucial for securing strong results and ROI, and ensuring your spokespeople are prepared and projects are efficiently managed.

This easy reference guide of commonly used tactics will help you understand which tactic is best to suit your story idea and objectives.

1. Media release

A media release should only be used for significant news announcements, for instance, new products and services, expansion domestically or internationally, funding injection, an IPO, research findings, acquisition, new offices or new senior hires etc. A targeted release to specific journalists is more effective than the “spray and pray” approach where you blast every journalist. A media release should announce news to relevant media organisations who will be interested in it. You’ll need a spokesperson to be available and on standby for an interview and also possibly a customer if you have one willing to talk. It requires a strong hook; significant news value and photography assets are also important.

2. Media pitch

A media pitch is a great option to use if what you’re pitching isn’t time-sensitive. It can be used to attract a journalist’s attention and offer a spokesperson for an interview on a topical angle. Your spokesperson will need to be prepared and available promptly to do any interviews that are secured. If you succeed in attracting a journalist’s attention then it’s important to have your spokesperson ready for an interview. You can’t ask a journalist to wait a week till you get prepared. Be ready when you send it.

3. Opinion piece

An opinion piece is agnostic thought leadership advice under the spokesperson’s byline arguing a strong point of view or providing advice. The emphasis here is on having an opinion or sharing advice from an industry expert. You can’t plug your company, products or services in an opinion piece. The value is in having the byline and positioning your founder or senior leaders as credible and authoritative commentators. If you’re working with a PR team, they will be able to help write this for you in a style that the target publication will accept.

4. Issues jacking

Issues jacking is focussed on leveraging something happening in the news and being ready with advice and commentary from an expert. But don’t ambulance chase or criticise competitors as this can backfire and lead to unwanted criticism of your organisation. It should be to offer a unique point of view or advice on how to do things better or issues to consider in the wider industry debate.

5. Customer story

This is when a happy customer is willing to engage in joint PR with you and do media interviews and approve content on how working with your organisation has added value to their business – providing a use case testimonial. If a journalist is interested in the story, the customer will need to be prepared for an interview and have both corporate comms and senior leadership approval from within their organisation to speak to a journalist. It is dramatically more powerful to have a customer tell a story about how working with you has helped them to do things better, easier, faster or smarter than it is for a journalist to hear you try to tell them how wonderful your organisation, products or services are. If you have happy passionate customers, you should leverage them in the PR.

6. Trend/prediction commentary

This can be a pitch or opinion piece when you notice an emerging trend or have predictions, for instance, what to expect in 2021 or what the top-selling items will be this Christmas.

Kathryn Van Kuyk, cofounder and PR Director, Media-Wize