1. You can absolutely be on national TV as a small business
I’m writing this the week after one of the small businesses we work with – with just 24 staff – got over a million estimated views across the BBC. That’s on the BBC TV news, BBC radio, BBC website articles and then syndicated across a range of places online and on social media.
Added to that, as the BBC has such a high domain authority (95 out of 100 – you’ll find more in our PR measurement post) that the SEO value from appearing not just once but twice, is awesome.
Aside from a good PR team (ahem), you also need to have what the journalist or producer is looking for – that could be a particular specialism, product, opinion or even location.
2. You always need to start with your USP
Unique selling points or USPs aren’t always easy to define. So instead, how about a message that’s authentic to you or your business and ownable? There must be a reason you started your business – a gap in the market? – or a reason that someone would choose you or your product against others.
What would you say if someone asked how you’re different to your nearest competitor? What do you offer that they don’t? We can help you define this in a Messaging Session – but you can also spend some time working on this yourself, or with a friend or colleague. It’s really important to establish this as it will help give journalists a reason to write about you.
3. PR is not the answer to all of your problems
OK, we like to think it really helps, but it won’t win you a wealth of new customers or set your business up for life on its own. It’s a process. Even landing a great piece like the BBC coverage above doesn’t mean everyone can sit back and not keep plugging away. The best coverage can be used to secure more coverage; the best interviews lead to other opportunities and it all contributes.
And the most powerful PR campaigns are supported by other activities, such as social media and marketing. These don’t have to be ridiculously expensive but they do have to be joined up. We’ve written about PR and marketing and the way they work together on Shona Chambers’ excellent marketing blog.
4. There are no smoke and mirrors with PR
A journalist is only a Google and a click away from your website or LinkedIn page. They won’t write about something that doesn’t ring true or isn’t authentic. We can’t pretend you haven’t launched if you really have, or that a product is new if it’s been online for months. We can’t say something is the only one of its kind if it isn’t.
The best PR amplifies the great work you do, rather than trying to over-sell it.
5. You will need to dedicate some time to PR
We’re very used to working with SME owners and leaders who have very little time. That’s why we’ve developed processes such as interviewing people over a 10-minute phone call, pulling content from emails, presentations or even podcasts. We’re happy to ghostwrite from bullet points, working to capture your tone, or craft a brain dump you give us. And we can re-use comments or content in many different ways.
However, you must have some time to dedicate to it, as it’s not something that can run well in the background with none of your involvement at all.
6. You can do it yourself, but it’s going to take time
There’s a wealth of PR information online – we have almost 100 PR articles on our site alone, giving tips and advice on PR. Often journalists like to hear from business founders or owners directly, and many achieve great results.
But it’s not a quick fix and it’s not for everyone. If you have the time and inclination, and are prepared to learn as you go along, go for it. You might enjoy it!
But if you’d rather benefit from someone else’s experience and contacts, a good PR can save you a lot of time and effort and achieve good results in media you might not have even considered.
7. The best PR comes from trust
It’s not easy to trust someone you haven’t worked with before and it’s a good idea to ask them a lot of questions. We always start with a trial period so both sides can understand how well it’s working. But if you’re happy with the PR strategy and buy into what they say, try to trust their judgement. They’re the experts and their expertise is what you’re paying for.
Good PRs have a lot of conversations behind the scenes, pitching in frequently and working on angles that work with the news agenda. If they recommend a publication or feature and are able to justify it, try to trust them.
There’s rarely the perfect piece in the perfect publication at the perfect time (that would more likely look like advertising). However, if you’re able to allow them time and flexibility, PRs are likely to get you much better, more consistent coverage. I’d rather have a good, regular spread of coverage for our own PR efforts than one piece a year in a prominent publication.