Public Relations: How to become your own PR firm.
With more companies joining the social world of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, public relations (the relationship you build within your community and with current/potential clients) is critical to your business now more than ever. The first impression someone has of your company could be what they see on your Facebook page, your website, or even what they read in your blog.
A good set of PR strategies can do wonders for a smart passionate service provider or agent of change like you. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, people no longer choose a company just because they have the best price. People choose a company because they genuinely “like” them. They want to feel that they know the people they are doing business with, that they like them and that they can trust them. It’s actually called the “Know, Like and Trust” factor. Which is why making an effort to build a relationship with your prospects is so important.
A good PR effort doesn’t have to cost a ton of money either, and it is relatively inexpensive compared to advertising and marketing (and sometimes much more effective and beneficial!) One simple PR tactic could be to start a company blog. This allows the reader to get a sense of your personality and is a lot more personable then the general (and possibly generic) information provided on your website. In addition, customer engagement through social networking sites is a great PR tool. You can use sites like Facebook to build relationships within your community.
One great book that I read on creating a buzz and mounting your own PR/publicity campaign is Peter Shankman’s “Can We Do That?!” Even if you never apply any of the ideas in his book, it’s a fascinating read with lots of examples of companies that used non-traditional and even outrageous means of promoting themselves and their message.
Now on the other side of the spectrum, bad public relations efforts (or none at all) can really hurt your business. Why is that you ask? Well, think of it this way – how likely are you to build a relationship with someone that has made a bad impression on you, or puts little effort into the relationship? My guess is not very likely. Even something as seemingly minor as having am ineffective website can hurt business. If your website is unclear, vague and hard to navigate – this makes it hard for visitors to find the information they need, immediately leaving a bad impression in the visitor’s mind. Same applies to a Facebook or Twitter page. If you put no effort into maintaining these pages or actually using them to interact with people, it can give off the impression that you simply don’t care enough to put in the time or effort. It’s important to maintain these pages to the best of your efforts. Even if you can only devote 30 or 45 minutes a week to it, schedule it in and get it done.
Even with PR being as easy as just updating your Facebook page, I understand that sometimes you are simply just too busy to spend time worrying about your public relations strategies or tactics. An extremely effective (though slightly spendy) way to boost your PR is to hire an outside PR firm to help get your started. If that isn’t an option for you but you would still like some outside help, try contacting your local college or university’s Public Relations department. Many of them have students who are in need of internships and would love to get hands on experience.
What do you do to maintain your relationship with your community? Do have any particular tactics that have worked for you? Please feel free to share by clicking the comment icon in the top right corner of this page (or it could be that you have to click the “comments” link below. )
Make it great!