Last Update: April 28, 2015
Does public relations actually work? Of course. Should you have a public relations plan in place? Quite possibly. But before you take a deep dive into PR, you should know: it’s not the 80’s – everything has changed.
Before you develop illusions of grandeur about landing on The Today Show or the front page of national news you should be aware of the mistakes that most small business makes when it comes to PR. So, we’ve tapped some of the nation’s leading public relations firms, run by entrepreneurs just like you, to uncover the number one PR mistake your small business can potentially make.
1. Don’t discount relationships with bloggers.
“Keep media relationships at a happy and healthy pace with timely information – it works wonders! Heck, one of my clients will be on the Today Show because of it.” Seattle: Jaime Palmucci, Founder/Digital Strategy Director at Debutante Media: @debutantemedia
2. Make your business newsworthy.
“If you think editors should just write about your company simply because it launched – think again. Don’t leave out news value or potential news angles and ideas.” Chicago: Molly Lynch, Founder/Managing Director at Lynch Communications Group: @mollylynch
3. Trust your PR agency!
“You hired us for a reason, so listen to us. If we suggest you need new photography, you probably do. If we tell you that you need to do this interview, you need to do it. Challenging your PR agency’s expertise is only going to defeat the purpose of hiring us. We’re here to help you, so let us help.” NYC: Lauren Rich, Founder + Director at RICHPR: @RICHPRStar
4. Include PR in your business model.
“If you opt for DIY PR, remember that sending a poorly crafted press release here and there and expecting it to bring you exposure won’t work.” Portland: Carey Powell, ACC, President/Owner at Fearless PR and Media: @FearlessCoach
5. Invest in your company’s profile.
“Invest your time, energy and budgets in building your brand through media relations, social media, speaking engagements and more. As a small business, it’s important to build a strong foundation for your brand, and in turn, your company will appear more credible and dynamic to target media and potential customers.” Charleston: Beth M. Cleveland, Principal at Elm Public Relations: @PR_Beth
6. Choose the right firm to represent your brand.
“It is crucial that you and your public relations firm are on the right page, and definitely a part of the same industry. Don’t sign with a PR firm just because your friend owns it, you like the website, or because you can afford them. A PR agency should be the final missing puzzle piece and the right fit to complete your vision.” NYC: Jordanna Stephen, Founder/President at Touch of Pink Public Relations: @TouchofPinkPR
7. Random pitching is not a strategy.
“Don’t send poorly constructed, non-targeted press releases and pitches to random media outlets – it is a huge mistake. A large majority of business owners don’t take the time to understand how journalists and editors work, and in turn their press releases and pitches end up in the trash.” NYC: Kristin Marquet, President at Marquet Media: @KristinMarquet
8. Don’t underestimate media magic.
“A tremendous amount of time and energy is required to make media placement magic happen! And once you land a major press hit, not using the placement for marketing is a huge mistake. A mention in Real Simple, a quote in the New York Times, or an appearance on Good Day New York should be a part of your credentials.” NYC: Andrea Samacicia, Owner at Victory Public Relations: @VictoryCom
9. Don’t hire an agency that doesn’t do research.
“Research is an essential component to any PR plan. Your agency should know your audiences, industry, competitors, relevant media outlets and appropriate contacts. Post-campaign research is also necessary to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Though research is the most neglected, it is the most valuable aspect to ensure results.” Miami: Danika Daly, President/CEO at Danika Daly PR: @danikadaly
10. Get out of your own way.
“Don’t create your own hurdles by spending too much time on who you want to be instead of who you are. Finding your own voice is so important because PR will broadcast that, so that people can find you. This is the reverse of what a lot of small businesses and publicists do, which is to go out and try to change minds. You run a business, not a charity. Sell nuts to squirrels.” Chicago: Philip Chang, Partner at Carbon Publicity : @strongerbonds