Over the last two decades, outbound marketing has taken a back seat to the need for driving traffic to businesses from the outside world, and with the rate at which technology has worked its way into everyday life, word spreads a lot faster than it used to. Initially, every small business requires an innovative idea coupled with quality management at the head of the company who has completed a leadership training program. But now strategies are continuing to change and evolve and it takes a little more than that to be successful. Herein lays the appeal of Public Relations.
Public Relations (PR) is not the loaded term that many green entrepreneurs make it out to be. What it really means is third party representation, and there are a number of ways to earn it. The advantage to PR is that when third parties advertise your product, people listen, namely for the fact that it’s generated primarily by satisfied consumers.
That said, many small business owners associate public relations with major corporations, chain stores with household names which can generate enough revenue to support PR campaigns with big league PR agencies. This unfortunate reality has led many businessmen to direct their financial resources away from PR for the high costs associated with it, but PR doesn’t need to come with a debt.
This is not to say that generating free PR is a cakewalk. Because communication is not what it used to be, the media through which satisfied consumers can provide businesses PR is also changing. Business owners who wish to avoid the financial burden that comes with corporate PR must now think outside the box. This means identifying trends in consumer expectations, and using them to get people talking.
Let’s examine some ways in which you can generate PR for your startup without the price tag that generally comes along with it.
Scout local bloggers in your target market and reach out to them by telephone, thanking them for their posts. Satisfied consumers will promote your business more enthusiastically if they know that their services are appreciated. If you shoot for a casual relationship, you will probably develop one. Expect to enjoy continued free promotion as a result. Return the favor by directing traffic to their website in your company posts, or sending business their way in personal ones.
Social media platforms allow users to share your posts on their page for others to view. A common trend in the use of social media is that many people do not adjust their privacy settings, which means that their posts stay public. This permits a high redistribution rate within tight target margins, affording you perpetual leads (the posts stay on their page until they delete them) on an exponential scale.
List and Engage Your Influencers
Influencers are those who reach the most people when promoting your product. Logistically, your influencers are worth more than consumers who fire off one or two posts about your company and move on to something else. As such, they should be treated as a business prospect, regardless of the media through which they advertise your business. Reach out to them quarterly, thank them for their efforts and return the favor by sending traffic their way.
PR is a game of strategy. Map out a rough schedule for the releases you intend to support your advertising campaigns with throughout the year. With respect to press releases for consumers who have already entered their contact information into your database, the most effective way to get your point across is to create more than one. Using automated workflows, tailor your press releases to leads in various stages of the selling cycle. Use what you know about how consumers behave on your website to include calls to action in releases prepared for those in the appropriate stages.
Use the News
If you approach them in the right manner, news stations will take your business to new and profitable heights. Make a list of five or ten reputable news stations and reach out to them in turn a few weeks before you intend to put a press release in play. Offer them exclusive rights to your story. Give the release enough time to work its magic, and conduct a critical analysis of how well it performed. Run the numbers against those afforded you by other news stations. Award exclusivity for all press releases in the following year to the highest performing station.