Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Remember: PR Does Not Equal Press Release

When it comes to public relations, the first thought that comes to mind to most small business owners is "issue a press release!" While press releases are part of the PR arsenal, they are not the end-all, be-all. There are numerous other components you also need to focus on in order to generate PR for your small business. Here are a few other key actions you should also spend time on:

1) Build relationships with journalists
You'll get more traction when you issue a press release if you have an established relationship with your key media contacts. Regularly try to either help journalists or comment on their recent work. They'll appreciate your help and feedback, and will be more likely to want to help you in return. 

2) Create unique events
From contests to giveaways, build off an event with another business or create one on your own. Generate buzz with something creative and out-of-the-box. You could even offer a media-only event to give your new journalist friends a sneak preview of a new product or service.

3) Give back to your community (local or virtual)
Whether you operate a brick-and-mortar business, or you're strictly online, finding ways to give back to your community can garner positive PR. For one month, offer to donate a percentage of your proceeds to your favorite charity or a non-profit aligned with your business. For example, a dog-walking business may selected a local animal shelter to support.

4) Network online through social media
Building relationships online is just as important as your media contacts. Engage through a variety of online channels that makes sense for your small business. Are you an artist? Be sure to use Pinterest. Offer small business services, join groups on Linked In geared towards that audience.

5) Keep learning
When it comes to PR, nothing is more important than continuing to learn about public relations. A strong PR campaign takes time and consistency to garner the best results.  Whether you're completely new to PR, or a veteran, personal development is always beneficial.

How do you view PR? Are you addicted to press releases, or do you dabble in more innovative methods?

Friday, March 15, 2013

3 Quick Tips for Low-Cost Marketing

Everyone is on a budget these days, including most businesses. But how can you grow your business and not spend money? Embrace low-cost, no-cost marketing ideas.

Marketing is the life blood of any business. It's essential to generate new customers and clients. Here are some ways you can market your business without breaking the bank:

Tell everyone about your business, from your mother and cousins to your hairdresser and mechanic. Every person you interact with should know that you're in business, what you offer and how to become a customer. Think about it. Every person in your social circle probably knows 50 to 100 people. It's the old adage "and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends..." Word-of-mouth referrals are a great source of business.

Public Relations (PR)
It's important to note that public relations and advertising are not the same. PR is essentially unpaid advertising. However, what you would pay cash for in marketing, you will pay in your time with PR. PR is not a quick fix. It's like sowing seeds. You need to plant, care for and nurture your PR efforts. PR highlights newsworthy information and should not be promotional. You can generate PR in a variety of ways, including with press releases, a media event, pitching local media or highlighting a recent survey or case study.

Social Media
No low-cost marketing plan is complete without including social media. Social media is all the rage. With hundreds of sites to choose from, you're best bet is to select a few to focus your efforts. Depending on the type of business you have, I would recommend Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. These popular sites are a great way to build relationships with customers, highlight products and services, gather feedback and leverage viral marketing. It's a great venue to both market and provide value to customers. Best of all, it doesn't cost any money to do it!

While there are hundreds of free or low-cost marketing ideas, these are just a few. No matter what kind of marketing you are doing for your business, the most important part is to have a plan. It doesn't need to be anything elaborate, but it should include all the components with a calendar outlining what to do and when.

Have any free or low-cost marketing tips that have worked well for you business? I'd love to hear them!