A number of years ago, several PR experts gave presentations at the Utah Information Technology Association’s (UITA) gathering that was labeled: “PR Tips from the Trenches.”
I was quite interested in the event because of my belief that public relations strategies are:
(1) often ignored by small solo businesses,
(2) assumed to be too expensive or too complicated and out of reach of the “little guy,”
(3) seen by small businesses as exclusively the tools or resources of the large and well-connected companies,
(4) one of the very best web traffic strategies there are, and
(5) important for the credibility of your business and product.
It seems that all the PR experts in attendance agreed that public relations efforts and success were very important to small business, but they didn’t agree at all on which approaches to PR were the most effective and successful.
That revelation suggested to me that a small business needs to be careful about the PR advice and assistance it asks for and receives as the responses to the plea for help will vary greatly from expert to expert.
I also learned from these experts that most of their clients are lacking in knowledge and understanding of how to initiate effective PR and how to successfully handle a PR crisis.
They are very different challenges and need to be treated with customized solutions.
Here are a few of the “take-aways” I learned from this event:
1) Your business should be consistent in giving meaningful PR information and news to the media.
It’s easy to spot a story that is made up to “force” some news about the business when in reality the information isn’t really news worthy.
Also, make sure the news is not stale or outdated.
2) PR should be looked at as a tool for the management of the company.
All your releases will somehow be related to the firm’s goals, reputation, core mission, and bottom-line performance.
3) PR programs and strategies should be performance based and measurable.
Whether your company does it’s own PR or hires an outside agency to handle it, the value of the PR effort should be proven by actually measuring and evaluating the results it gives.
4) Don’t be afraid of the media.
Be open with them and foster relationships with individuals in the media that you can trust.
These will be your biggest allies in times of company crisis.
5) Set goals for your PR program and then measure your results in achieving what you set out to accomplish.
Get incrementally better as time goes on (meaning that you don’t put all your eggs, usually called resources, in the PR basket at once hoping for a home run.)
6) If you hire an outside firm for your PR, press them to produce tangible successes in their portfolio.
See what they’ve been able to create, how much it cost the client, and evaluate if this is the type of results you will accept.
A concluding note: most of the PR experts agreed that businesses need to maintain a blog as part of their PR strategy.
How effective a PR tool blogs are will undoubtedly be linked to how well the blog is written and how well it appeals to its readers; but companies shouldn’t ignore this strategy.
Most felt that blogs are less effective in giving company information than other forms of PR because they are often very opinionated and “off the cuff.”
Additionally, blogs are not expected to meet the journalistic standards and guidelines that a press release does; but, certainly they shouldn’t be compared on that basis alone.
To your online business success,