PR and Websites
Building Legends Together
You have worked
hard on your marketing, promotion and
personality 'P's' and now to the final P, as
in the use of PR or public relations, not
advertising. Even though advertising works,
it is expensive and has diminishing returns.
In our information overload environment, a
small business cannot afford to really break
through with advertising alone.
There is a better way: Legend building
through public relations. Let the news
media, customers, professional peers, and
the community sing your praises. Use your
advertising dollars for better purposes.
After all, good public relations are a
process, not a flash-in-the-pan event or
series of events. To put your business on
the public relations (PR) map, you need a
long-term public relations plan.
Make news instead of noise. Your plan should
suit your environment and goals by mixing a
precisely targeted combination of visibility
in professional organizations, excellence in
local business, activities in civic
organizations, and communications with and
through the media. If you make news, tell
the media about it. But never bombard them
with hype, non-newsworthy press releases, or
demands for coverage. Learn to write good
press releases and distribute them to the
media that your potential customers see.
Small businesses home-based or not,
frequently have meager resources. That means
you are forced to rely on inexpensive and
free PR tactics to attract customers.
Another problem is that as a small or
home-based business usually you will face
credibility issues because of your size and
relative obscurity. You, as a small-business
owner, are off the public's radar screen
while your larger, established competitors
have a large advertising budget, a history,
impressive offices and sadly, are more
readily reported in the press.
The best way around this inequality (besides
a massive ad blitz) is a public relations
campaign that emphasizes your community
involvement, experience, and integrity. Join
business and community organizations and
look for opportunities to publicize your
activity to earn an image as a solid member
of the business community.
You need to establish a solid, relevant,
memorable image; a good PR plan to implant
that image in the minds of your target
market; the right media list; and goals and
strategies to make and publicize news. While
you cannot afford much advertising, your PR
efforts can play to your strength of local
You must take advantage of the two great
equalizers in the business world, these
being your Web site and PR. These can either
make you look solid or insubstantial to your
target audience. If your Web site is
well-designed and effectively promoted, and
if you send solidly written press releases
about real news events to the right media
outlets at the right time, you can look as
impressive and solid as any larger
enterprise in the world. Just remember that
you have as much or more of a presence on
the local level as the local giant; look for
ways to make a positive impact on the local
community and then publicize them.
As a small business, your goal is to
establish an image of businesslike solidity,
not to use smoke and mirrors to misrepresent
your size. Home-based business is more
common and accepted than ever these days.
Consequently, the best strategy is to treat
size as a non-issue by ignoring it. As for
dealing with the credibility problems that
come from being new or small, the best way
to work through any business credibility
problem is by inspiring customer confidence.
Stress the benefits of doing business with
your company in all your promotions; develop
an impressive, credible guarantee; and then
publicize it. If people feel they will be
well served as customers and will be
protected by a money-back guarantee and a
return policy, they will not have a problem
with either newness or size. They want their
problems solved and look to the business
that can best get the job done for them.
This is your story, tell it well.
John Shenton - June, 2002