PR is not just a buzz word

I teach webinars, masterclasses, run workshops and talks and I have realised that many small-business owners have heard the word “PR” and know that it is something to look into at some stage, however, they are embarrassed to state that they don’t actually understand what public relations is.

What is PR?

PR is the way that businesses communicate with their internal and external stakeholders. In a nutshell, this means that it is the way that businesses communicate with their employees and externally the media, their customers and investors.

Not all publicity is a great thing and the message that a business shares with the world needs to be strategically planned and meticulously executed.

Where does PR fit in the overall marketing strategy?

The basic marketing mix is made up of the target market and the four P’s:

  1. The first P is Product, and this forms the tangible product that the business sells. This includes packaging, branding, USP, features etc.
  2. The second P is Place and this is where you sell your product. It can be an online store, bricks, and mortar store or online or physical marketplace.
  3. The third P is Price, and this is your pricing strategy. How much does your product cost, your wholesale price, discounts etc? Do you follow a premium price strategy or a loss leader strategy?
  4. The fourth P is the Promotion element of the marketing mix. This is where all promotional activities live. Advertising, sales promotions, in-store promotions, direct marketing, newsletters and, of course, PR live here.

What is PR not?

PR is not advertising. It is not an advertorial. It is not a live TV sales promotion. It is not a sponsored post. It is publicity that is generally unpaid unless the small-business owner hires an expert to implement the campaign on behalf of their business.

The message can be controlled to a degree, but it cannot be controlled entirely as it is unpaid. If it were paid then it would be an advert or a sponsored post.

PR should be customised to the target media outlet and the target audience. Publicity content should always be customised to the media outlet. It should also be current and newsworthy. Sales jargon and calls to action should be avoided when creating editorial.

How can PR help a small business or start-up?

Public relations can assist business owners with creating brand awareness, pitching themselves as an expert and building credibility. It can also personify a business when the business owner shares their unique story with the media and its customers. It can also help a business to grow their social media audience and SEO organically.

Who can create, implement and evaluate a PR campaign?

There are different ways of implementing strategies for start-ups:

  1. Give it a go and do your own publicity.
  2. Hire a consultant or freelancer which will be more affordable.
  3. Hire an agency if you have more budget.

Candice Meisels, Public Relations and Marketing Consultant and author of “The Power of PR – PR for start-ups and small business”

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