Does your start-up or small business need public relations?

Do you understand the benefits of public relations (PR) for your small business and brand? Brand authority and marketing communications creative in Southern Africa with Get-Published, Nadia Hearn, aims to teach other entrepreneurs about how PR can help their business and where it fits into their marketing plan.

“Understanding marketing, the different tactics and what each delivers, must inform your strategy so that it is spot on to deliver against your business objectives and marketing spend,” says Hearn, who is the founder of Get-Published, an entrepreneur, broadcast media producer, and presenter, and a purpose-driven business mentor. She shares her insights after almost two decades of seeing first-hand the marketing and sales pains of SMEs and entrepreneurs.

Here are her must-know facts about how and where PR belongs in the total marketing mix and how you can use public relations to gain business results, in her own words…

PR’s position in the sales process 

PR’s job is to add great value to organic (not paid for) content that ethically educates your target customer on the problems they may be experiencing and provides better solutions to remove their pain points. Second to this, your prospects must understand how your services and products help them, what difference they really make, and how they can benefit from what you offer. 

PR creates trust and credibility for your business as well as awareness so that your sales tactics can be successful. Your prospects are influenced during the sales process in the evaluation phase – before they convert (buy) – and this is a very important step in the decision-making process. 

It is at this point your potential customer will review if you are ‘the expert’, that you are who you say you are, and your business is a valuable source. They will be influenced by your story of how you can help, why you or your business care about them, and why you are great at what you offer, as well as stories and proof of how you helped others and what they can expect to gain. 

Digital PR and how it will support search 

You may have heard that your business needs a great digital footprint? If so, you may wonder what that includes… It simply means that when anyone searches you or your business online, you come up preferably on page one of the search engine. While PR does not do the job of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) it definitely helps with searchability, especially if you are featured in high-ranking news pages and websites. 

Are your profiles on digital platforms popping up and do they look professional? Are they aligned to who you say you are? Do they provide the right credentials around what you are great at and what you offer? Do they make it easy for others to connect with you? 

This also applies to businesses and their brands. Having a good and healthy digital footprint also includes a polished and professional brand visually that is well represented, has a consistent brand voice and message across social media pages, your website/s and all digital marketing materials. 

Consistency is crucial when building a credible, trusted, and recognised brand that your market feels safe with and knows what to expect from you through your marketing communications.

PR is not a lead generation tool

It is vital to understand that public relations is not going to get your phone ringing nonstop with new business leads. After a radio interview you may see some website visits or get a message or two, however you most likely won’t see a massive immediate impact. 

This is 100% normal, a few media interviews will not get you famous or you – or your brand top of mind awareness. What you do need for your PR strategy to work is consistent exposure in the media for anyone to pay attention, as to them you are not important yet. 

Your prospect needs to see, read or hear about you or your business several times  – it is proven that they need to see you up to eight times – for it to stick. 

PR as a solo marketing activity 

Will PR work as a standalone marketing strategy? The answer is yes, but only if you have an excellent sales strategy that is currently producing results and your PR can then do its job to support sales in its closing stage. 

As explained, PR is not a sales lead generation tactic, so how else will it support you? Media exposure can support you on overall brand awareness and to stay top of mind, it can also act as an education tool, and can tackle difficult misperception challenges in the market. 

PR supports the introduction job for you as the business owner or the sales team; your prospects get to know who the business is and why you have something amazing to sell that can change their business or lives. PR helps answer the question ‘why’ you? 

Hopefully, this shines a light on what to expect from PR in your business. A point to note is that PR needs to run for a few months at the very least. It is recommended that PR run for no less than three active months to see some good impact on business objectives, however, ideally it takes six to 12 months to gain great consistent media exposure to your target market and to build trust. 

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