PR tips for small businesses

Recently our founder, Jess Morgan, delivered an insightful keynote presentation with the Small Business Network at the Digital Mansion, Corsham. Her talk outlined how PR and small businesses can work in tandem without blowing big budgets or using up a huge amount of valuable resources. 

Small business is Jess’s heartland and a passion she has carried with her throughout her 20-year career in the media industry. Running a small business herself, Jess understands that choosing what to invest in and what takes priority can be a difficult task, she also understands that many small business owners may have been burned in the past with bad experiences, so are wary of taking the risk again.  

Stripping everything back to basics, Jess equipped all attendees with four key tips which can help any small business know where to start when it comes to PR. With such a positive reception from all of the entrepreneurs and business owners in the room, I wanted to share them here too so that they can be accessible to everyone and anyone who may be thinking about PR but are unsure of where to start.  

Interview yourself

“Why do you want to do PR?”  

Before anything is written down or kickstarted, this is the first and most important question. PR can be a solution to a problem, but a business must be clear about what it wants to achieve for it to be successful. 

  • Do you want to attract new business?  
  • Are you looking to recruit?  
  • Do you want to be in the same space as your competitors? 
  • Do you want to be able to share content with more authority? 

By answering this question, you can really help yourself when it comes to having clear direction in your strategy. 

Secondly, make sure you know your brand inside out. Ask yourself: 

  • What do we stand for?  
  • Can I say what we do in two succinct lines? 
  • What’s our unique selling point (USP)?  
  • Who is our audience? 

Bear in mind that all of these can change over time as your businesses morphs and grows, but it’s important that everyone involved is on the same page. Communication is key. 

When it comes to target market and audience, having a clear aim will be hugely beneficial when it comes to deciding what publications you’re going to target. As a business, you need to work out exactly where the people you want to reach are, and then go there.   

You’ll be surprised about how much you already know when you do this task but, it will also outline some clear gaps which will need to be filled before you start the formal process of finding a PR agency. At Carnsight, we make sure to have a session with clients doing exactly that, we call it a lens session, a close-up view of you and your business.  

"We always encourage businesses to shoot for the stars"

Start small

Having a wish list of major national publications is great – we always encourage businesses to shoot for the stars, however, much like a house, good foundations are necessary to keep things stable.  It’s important to build your profile, establish yourself as an expert in sector press, celebrate news in local and/or trade press and then start to branch out the more well-known you become. It’s better to be consistent with PR than have one massive hit and then nothing for long periods. PR is all about sustainable results.  

Being local is an angle in itself for the local press. It’s a great place to start and can be a wonderful opportunity to talk about yourself, your business and your key messages. Local press wants to hear about people doing well in the local area. It’s a great place to start building a profile for your business. Local press is also great for syndication. Often, local news stories can be picked up by bigger publications should the story spark wider interest or the business be perceived as reputable. 

Consider becoming an expert in your area and reaching out to trade and sector press. The national press often looks to specialist sector publications to find experts in specific areas. Trade and sector press are also great for providing content and boosting SEO. The sites are often incredibly well-read and specifically by people with a real interest in your chosen field or market.   

Get social

Social media is a must when it comes to connecting to journalists and publications. Twitter is the place to be when it comes to forming relationships with journalists. #JournoRequest is an extremely useful hashtag where journalists go to find commentators for an upcoming piece or story. It’s a brilliant way to have direct contact with a journalist.  

Social media is also a really easy way to get to know a publication. It’s vital that when pitching to either, you know exactly the type of content that the journalist for that publication is looking for. They will receive hundreds of pitches per day and it can be incredibly frustrating for them to receive a pitch from someone who hasn’t read or understood the context of the publication they write for. It’s a huge time-waster for both parties involved.  

Build honest relationships with the media. Comment and engage with journalists’ posts, share articles from publications you enjoy. It doesn’t look false; it shows an appreciation for the industry. If you like a particular magazine, buy it. Read a lot from an online publication? Sign up for their newsletter. Being engaged will help you keep your finger on the pulse and understand the industry climate.   

"Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to come to you; you’ll be waiting far too long."

Be flexible

Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to come to you, you’ll be waiting far too long. Be ready to talk about different areas of your business and seize any opportunities that come your way. It’s also important to be as proactive as possible. Have confidence in yourself and your business. If you’re a small business owner there is no questioning your dedication and resilience, make sure that comes through in your PR as well.