What is the importance of public relations? Most small businesses do not invest in public relations (PR); however as a small business owner, you need to commit to a PR program for your business growth. What’s the return on investment for public relations? Building a stronger brand identity will result in more awareness and credibility for your business and its products or services. Higher awareness will help you to gain market interest and market credibility.
What is a definition of public relations?
PR is about using communication tools and strategies to build relationships with various “publics”, such as the business community, customers, suppliers, media, government levels and more. Traditionally this is done through press releases, radio, television, newspapers and magazines. In today’s digital online environment however social media and social networking have become part of an integrated public relations program. PR can influence people’s perceptions and opinions.
Your PR plan needs to focus on building awareness of, and image for, your business and its products and services by:
- Producing stories and articles for media outlets (both online and offline); Making connections with local media;
- Monitoring relevant media channels (such as social media monitoring) for public comment about your business, your marketplace and even your competition;
- Developing a crisis communication plan and managing crises that arise and threaten your business and/or product image;
- Getting involved with the community and target market through special programs and participation in events;
- Developing a social media plan to connect with online social networks (there are more than 300 but the main networks are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn); including social media news releases, blogs and forums.
Most public relations plans focus on first identifying the challenge, then building the objectives of the campaign, next building the communication tactics and messages, and finally monitoring results and revising as necessary. This work needs to be ongoing: first one challenge (such as brand recognition), then another challenge (such as brand credibility), then another challenge (such as new product introduction), and then so on.
In today’s digital environment, PR campaigns can be rolled out very quickly, and the impact of the campaign can also be very quickly measured. Public relations will help you launch social networking programs. Learning how to use PR in your small business is key: social media and social networking provides you with low cost communication channels but you still need to learn what to say, and how to say it or you can hurt your brand identity.
Successful small businesses focus on a mix of public relations, social media, online and offline advertising, direct marketing, and personal selling as part of their marketing efforts for building their brand. Strengthen your marketing plan by adding PR to the plan and ensuring that you build measurements into the campaigns: you need to know what works, and what doesn’t work in communicating with your market and with your public.