Your public relations strategy should shed your business in the best light possible. In other words, it should give you a good reputation. For startups, public relations will establish their presence in the market. It isn’t the same as advertising, which creates brand awareness through paid means. Rather, public relations, or simply PR, is the strategic communication between your brand and the public.
To define it more clearly, PR is the art of crafting and sending messages that inform and encourage the public and motivate people to change opinions or take action. Basically, it is the practice of generating publicity and promoting a business. The “public” in PR actually refers not to the masses, but to various external and internal target audiences. If you’ve clearly defined your target market, then your PR strategy should be focused on them.
Looking at PR’s definition, it seems easy to develop it for your small business. But it’s not as simple as it appears. In fact, PR mistakes are common in different industries, and your small business isn’t an exception.
Misconceptions About PR
Some people call PR a spin or buzz. Putting a spin on something, like a brand message, for example, is a way to make it interesting and buzz-worthy. But a spin is just an important tool in PR, not PR in itself.
There are also people who define PR as corporate propaganda. This is false because propaganda is intended to mislead someone, which goes against PR’s principles. Effective PR is meant to be ethical and factual. Businesses shouldn’t lie in their PR strategies, because they’d face backlash when the truth comes out — when, not if, because if a business deceives the market, the truth will always come out, no matter how they keep it hidden.
Another common misconception is bad publicity being good publicity. Many businesses, including megacorporations, downplay bad publicity because “at least it’s still publicity.” But you can only afford bad publicity if your product or service is interesting enough for people to try, regardless of the feedback it gets. For example, if you published a book by an unknown author that generated negative reviews, readers will be more likely to buy it out of intrigue alone. Still, bad publicity isn’t always worth risking, which we’ll discuss more below.
Common PR Mistakes
Entrepreneurs aren’t strangers to the fact that the majority of startups fail within five years. To avoid meeting your downfall, work with a reputable marketing company to prevent your company from making these common PR mistakes:
Skipping the PR Plan
Your PR won’t just take care of itself. You need a strategic plan to make it work. Start by creating a PR team within your marketing department. And of course, enlist a third-party PR expert. The plan should outline your publicity goals, and how you’ll execute the tasks that’ll take you to those goals.
Include a PR disaster plan in your strategies. An unsatisfied customer or competitor may still hurt your PR, even if you’re generally doing good. In addition, identify your target audience, and tailor your brand’s message to them. Determine which type of media you’re going to use as well; for example, Facebook, if that’s where your target audience is found.
Lastly, develop a realistic time frame. Don’t expect good publicity to occur overnight, especially if you’re still an unknown small business.
Going Straight for the Media Moguls
Of course, all businesses want to get the best coverage for their brand. But if you’re a newcomer, a media mogul won’t see much value in writing about your brand. Plus, they already receive tons of pitches every day.
Instead of going straight for the prominent media figures, target lesser-known ones, or newcomers like you. The ones who are just starting out are usually more eager to cover new businesses.
Assuming that Everything is Buzz-worthy
When you’ve just launched a new product, the media won’t be automatically interested in broadcasting it. But if you collaborated with a celebrity to create that product, then that is buzz-worthy. News outlets will agree to cover it.
We can also relate this common mistake to the “bad publicity is still publicity” notion. Sometimes, brands purposely seek out bad publicity so that they’d be famous overnight. They may post a controversial tweet, pay an infamous celebrity to endorse their product, etc. But bad publicity isn’t worth the risk anymore, because even if you recovered from it, people will still remember your brand as “the controversial one.”
Do your PR right by staying true to your brand message, and acting as per your brand’s mission. Seek out endorsers with good publicity themselves, and sponsor celebrities who will also benefit from your product. Needless to say, they should have great reputations, too.
Bad PR may put your brand’s name on the trending list for a period, but given people’s skepticism nowadays, they won’t likely buy into your game. So chase good PR right away, and maintain it.