I was recently inspired by a short meeting with a prospective client. It impressed me that he was ready to tell his story, even though his business wasn’t quite prepared to launch a public relations (PR) campaign. I thought that it might help other small businesses to know what steps to take to determine whether or not they are ready to launch a PR campaign, either on their own or with an external firm.
Set a Vision
A vision is bigger than just “I want to get more sales.” Having a big picture will help you determine how to best craft the story and engage with the ideal consumer.
When I asked what the overall vision for the company was going to be at the end of the year, the prospect client was able to describe what his community looked like and how he was going to help people. It was very clear that he was not the type of businessperson that was going to sit in the office tweeting with customers, but the kind who was willing to be on the frontlines.
Have a New Story to Tell
Businesses need to be innovative to survive, and the innovations are what make a good news story. If there’s nothing new in the business to talk about, consider angling your campaign to talk about the CEO or other executives’ backgrounds. For example, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg are just as well known to the business world as their brand.
My prospect client had a very compelling career. He had changed professions a few times and finally moved across the country to BC, where he started a new chapter of his business. He discovered a need he could fill when he noticed his clients were asking for services he didn’t provide, and had to look for other professionals to whom he could refer them to.
He described his business model as an innovative one that (so far as we knew) doesn’t yet exist in the city. However, he hadn’t gotten the brand online or created a steady customer base yet, which told me that he wasn’t quite ready to go public yet.
Be a Good Speaker
Public speaking is an important skill to have in PR. Being able to tell your story succinctly will make for an ideal interview or when sharing your story with the media because you’ll be able to communicate your thoughts and messages in a natural way without talking too much and eating up air time. And listening skills are also just as important as your speaking abilities.
The prospect client was a very articulate speaker and his story hooked me in emotionally in a very short amount of time. He was also an active listener, made good use of our meeting time and appreciated the feedback that I had for him. I knew immediately that he would be an ideal interviewee during a PR campaign.
Prepare a Budget
This is a big one. I find that many businesses do not have an adequate idea of the time and effort it takes to conduct a proper media outreach or social media campaign, and they don’t budget for it. While small businesses may have in-house resources, they should always have a marketing budget for the year, and be able to determine how that is going to be spent and broken down into the different marketing components.
Overall, have an idea of the end in mind before you meet with a PR firm to help you, or when you start developing a campaign with your team. Without a solid idea of the results you want and the goals you’re aiming to achieve, you won’t be prepared for the work it’ll take to get there.
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