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The best 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 small businesses can use PR effectively 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 step 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.  

Step one: Interview yourself

“Why do you want to do PR?”  

This is the first and most important question. PR can be a solution to a problem, but a business must be clear about what the problem is and what it wants to achieve for it to be successful. Some prompts:

  • 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? 

The answer will inform your approach.

Secondly, ensure 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 grows and develops, but it’s important that everyone involved is on the same page from the start.

Your target market and audience is key to understanding what publications you’re going to target.

You’ll obviously know a lot of the above but you may also identify some clear gaps. At Carnsight, we make sure to have a session with new clients going through the process: we call it a Three Lens Messaging Session.

“We always encourage businesses to shoot for the stars”

Steph two: Start small

Having a wish list of major national publications is great – we always encourage businesses to shoot for the stars. However, good foundations are important to be able to reach your goals. 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.

Being from the area is an angle in itself for the local press, which means local publications are a good place to start in sharing your news. They provide 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. Local press is also great for syndication. Often, local news stories can be picked up by bigger publications should the story spark wider interest. 

The national press also often looks to specialist sector publications to find experts in specific areas. Trade and sector press are great for providing content and boosting SEO. The sites are often well-read and specifically by people with a real interest in your chosen field or market. You can learn more about the importance of working with trade and sector press by checking out our post here.

Step three: 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 when they’re writing something that could be relevant

Looking at social media profiles is also a really easy way to get to know a publication and what they cover. 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 all 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.

For some social media inspiration, you can follow us over on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

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

Steph four: 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. 

We have ample tips and advice that can help you when starting off your business PR. Why not check out our post all about where to start with content for PR, or if you’d like some more in-depth advice and guidance, give us a call.


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