Public Relations for Small Business Success

Public Relations for Small Business

If you are looking for the most effective way to grow your company, then you need to take the time to pursue public relations for your small business. Not only should you work on the podcasts, blogging, and guest posts, but you should work on print, radio, and television.

I have been immensely successful with each because I was willing to show up and do the hard work including continually following up with each stage until I got the results I was after.

You can do this too – you can be successful. How can I say that? Not everyone is willing to go this extra mile, but you are!

Read on for tips and resources for implementing public relations for small business success.

My Background

Back in 1984, I had an idea for a software program. I knew it had the potential to make a huge impact and could become a top tier program of its type. My promotional budget was not nearly as big as my dreams.

Of the $10,000 we had available to launch this product, we wasted $6,000 on stupid ads in the wrong magazine. It was back to basics after that fiasco. I decided to get my software product into the hands of my end users by utilizing public relations.

My reasons were two-fold: 1.) I needed to share my product without spending a bunch of money, and 2.) the press needed a great product to write about.

The story has a happy ending as I sold the company I started using PR for 8 figures. When you are willing to do the work, anyone can do this…yes, even you.

Where to Start

Back then I started with a publication covering the vertical market my software could help. It was a paid subscription to a published guide. (These were the pre-Internet days.)

It’s much easier today than it was back then.

Resources to help you get great PR: List of United States Magazines. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_magazines List of vertical industries: https://www.webwire.com/IndustryList.asp

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Once you have reviewed the links above, focus on a list of the top 20 or 30 publications. Narrowing the list down will help you keep track of your outreach and contact efforts.

Build a Public Relations Process

It’s critical to have a process in place as you start reaching out to these publications. Start by outlining exactly what you will say over the next three to six months. Plan everything carefully and in advanced.

Determine the goal for each communication outreach. If you do not reach the goal, keep moving forward until you do.

Organize and manage your contacts using a CRM system like Zoho.com which is free and handles most of the tracking for you.

Schedule your communications to go out regularly, and research each editor you are in contact with. Pay attention to what they like and mention any past articles. This shows you are paying attention to them and their publication.

If you want to get an interview, tell them this up front and explain why.

Add Radio

It is impossible to get attention from celebrities like Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern.  Instead of aiming for the big names in talk radio, focus on smaller markets.

When you do, write letters to the shows’ hosts. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m telling you to “write” a letter. Don’t write an email or make a phone call.

Then go an extra step and send it via FedEx overnight. The intrigue alone will get your letter read.

Lists of Radio Hosts and Talk Shows

Preparing for Your Radio Debut

As you reach out for radio interviews, you also need to prepare for your first one.

Remember to be a storyteller.

The story should be constructed in such a way that the listener understands how your product or service benefits them. List the big benefits and repeat the name of your product and/or service throughout the interview. Share clients’ stories and successes. Talk about the problems that were solved using your product/service.

TIP: Give a Phone Number (in addition to an URL) During Your Radio Interview

Using a URL is not as effective as you might think for your advertising or marketing efforts on the radio. The reason is simple – the majority of people listening are driving and will not remember a URL.

You can mention your URL, but it’s a great idea to have a phone number specified as well. People can dial a phone number while driving but are unable to notate a URL, so grab a free phone number by establishing a Google voice number. Another option is to use a service like www.grasshopper.com and have a live operator answer.

A question that often comes up is whether you should use a generic number or get a vanity number.​

Vanity numbers are better because they can be easily remembered. Understand that they are expensive to lease. Expect to pay between $100-$150 a month.  If you want to obtain a vanity number, the best company to use is www.Dial800.com.

Your goal is to get a new customer’s name, phone number, and email address. The services I’ve mentioned will capture phone numbers, so you can focus on getting names and email addresses.

As you scale into a full advertising campaign, an option is to use a virtual call center to interact with customers. This link will help you find suitable candidates: http://www.capterra.com/call-center-software/.

Bring Help On-board

With only 24 hours in the day, having the time to get all of this done may be impossible. I understand.

My very first employee wasn’t a virtual assistant. It was a PR person. She worked hard, she was paid on results, and achieved some incredible success.

How to Work With a PR person

In the beginning, it makes sense to pay a base salary to you PR person while they are coming up to speed. At the 30-day mark, you should start seeing results such as interviews with local stations, industry publications, and relevant podcasts.

Around the 90-day mark, your schedule should expand to a variety of different kinds of interviews.

Think about where you want to be seen, and help your PR rep structure their workflow to make the best use of their times to attain those results.

For example, you might work on a plan like this:

  • 20% Radio Interviews
  • 20% Podcast Interviews
  • 20% Vertical Market Publications (magazines newsletters)
  • 30% Writing blog posts, guest posts on platforms such as Medium, Huffington Post, WSJ, etc.
  • 20% Running the campaigns using automation software like MeetEdgar.com, Zoho.com, etc.

You can always start here and make necessary changes as you PR person gains traction.

As your PR person gains results for you, reward them based on those results. Give bonuses for reaching goals established by the company CEO.

Television: The Holy Grail of PR

Who doesn’t want to get on TV?

The key to getting there is to start small.

Find small, local markets that will work with you and have you on the air. They know what you are trying to accomplish and will often offer to sell you a demo reel. You can use this as a branding tool.

If you happen to get on an ABC affiliate, you can use the ABC TV logo on your website and other press materials.

Keep in mind this will take a bit of work and not all niches will get much attention in small market segments. Broadly applicable topics with a unique twist and story and a CEO that shows well can get a lot of fantastic coverage.

Summary

Public Relations is more powerful than advertising. You can reach more people while on a limited budget, AND you build a cornerstone for your future outreach programs. Take the time to develop the relationships and get the results you want when you do the work needed.

Mitch Russo

About Mitch Russo

In 1985, Mitch co-founded Timeslips Corp, which grew to become the largest time tracking Software Company in the world. In 1994, Timeslips Corp was sold to Sage, plc. While at Sage, Mitch went on to run all of Sage U.S. as Chief Operating Officer, a division with 300 people with a market cap in excess of $100M.

Mitch joined long time friend Chet Holmes and Tony Robbins and together created Business Breakthroughs, Int'l, a company serving thousands of businesses a year with coaching, consulting and training services. Mitch was the President and CEO.

In 2015, Mitch published “The Invisible Organization” which is the CEO’s guide to transitioning a traditional brick and mortar company into a fully virtual organization.

Today, Mitch helps clients by showing them new sources of revenue and business strategy that works fast, along with sharing his rolodex of interesting people with his new podcast: Your First Thousand Clients.

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