Some of the top CEOs in the world have come under fire recently due to PR mistakes in their companies. While PR is a critical aspect for any business – helping to shape how the public views a company – it can very often make or break a small business. Here are some vital tips to heed to avoid costly PR mistakes of your own:
- Don’t dismiss bloggers. Blogging is the new media and the number of influential bloggers is growing daily. More and more people are turning to blogs to garner information on the people and companies they do business with. If you have (or want) a blogger interested in your business or products, you need to spend time fostering that relationship. For a small business, this can be done in simple ways such as liking the blogger’s Facebook page, interacting with him or her on Twitter and sharing or posting comments on their content on an ongoing basis (not just when you want them to pay attention to you). A blogger scorned can make for very bad PR.
- Writing a press release isn’t enough. Press releases can be an effective way to get the media interested in whatever your business is doing. But just writing one isn’t enough – it will take a little homework on your end to get to know the reporters that cover your business area and why they would/should/could be interested in reading your news. Be sure you read what they write on a regular basis, understand how your news might fit into that “beat” and provide them with an angle that is compelling to their readers specifically.
- Trust your PR agency. Public relations agencies get paid to help their clients and are attune to handling situations that might be new to you. The best ones will never give bad or ill-timed advice and if you have invested in them – assuming you went through a strategic process to choose them – you need to let them do the job you hired them to do. Listen to what they say, ensure they aren’t “yes men” (they should push back and/or question the status quo) and create a partnership with them. Agency relationships fail when clients hire experts and then try to control every aspect of what they do, rather than trusting their counsel.
- Have a plan. You cannot control everything – but you can plan for most things. Have a strategic communications plan with clear goals, and also plan for the inevitable crisis so that if it happens, you can react appropriately. Too many companies fail to properly and swiftly address a crisis – including clear messages to its customers as well as the media – and suffer the consequences for it, which can include losing trust from your most valuable constituents.
- Don’t fail to invest. I don’t mean investing capital to start your business; I mean investing in your brand on an ongoing basis. Updating photography and sales media are two very simple ways to invest in your brand.
- Know your company’s marketing goals. You have to know and understand your marketing goals prior to investing in PR. PR is, in essence, an extension of marketing. You would never leave on a trip without a destination; make your marketing goals your PR destination. PR should also encompass a part of your business plan. What is the company trying to accomplish overall? Align your strategies and goals accordingly.
- Target audiences appropriately. If you are selling hearing aid batteries, you may want to rent a billboard near a hospital, not the one by the local university . Understanding your target audience – who they are, where they are, what they need and want – is crucial to maximizing your PR and marketing dollars.
Overall, the best tip is to construct your business practices, ethics, and PR strategies to ensure that people are always saying good things about your business. Sharing content, ideas and news that’s helpful to your core audiences is a great way to ensure that happens – and that PR is working for your company.