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The big misconception about PR

I’ve held lots of workshops and masterclasses with Australian start-ups and small business owners and I always start by saying “PR is not just a buzz word.”

PR is not just a trending word or a hot topic. It can be a powerful medium for small business owners and start-ups to communicate effectively with their target audience through media exposure; it ultimately leads to increased brand awareness and better leads and sales.

Many small business owners have heard of PR and know that they will likely have to invest in PR at some stage of their brand awareness journey, but they are potentially unsure of what PR really is or means.

PR stands for Public Relations, and it’s all about the ways in which a business communicates with its stakeholders. This includes the media, their target audience and their internal employees too. PR uses publicity and media coverage to build an audience’s perception of a business, product or service.

Is PR marketing?

PR falls under the fourth ‘P’ – promotion – of an overall marketing strategy.

The 4 ‘P’s are product, place, price and promotion.

The product is quite simply what service or product the business sells. This ‘P’ includes packaging, branding, USP, features etc.

Place is where you sell your product. It can be an online store or a physical store; both of these can be made either local, national or global.

Price is, quite simply, your pricing strategy. How much does your product cost, your wholesale price, discounts etc? Do you follow a premium price strategy or a loss leader strategy?

Promotion is where PR falls. This is where all promotional activities live. Advertising, sales promotions, in-store promotions, direct marketing, newsletters are also in this category.

What is PR not?

PR is not advertising. PR is not an advertorial. PR is not a live TV sales promotion. PR is not a sponsored post.

It is publicity that is generally unpaid, except in the circumstance where the small business owner actually hires a PR expert to implement the campaign on behalf of their business.

The PR message can be controlled to a degree but not entirely due to the fact that, as I mention above, it is unpaid. If PR publicity is paid for then it would be considered an ‘advert’ or a ‘sponsored post.’ PR content should always be customised to the media outlet and should also be current and newsworthy. Sales jargon and calls to action should be avoided when creating editorial.

How can PR help a small business or start-up?

PR assists business owners with creating brand awareness, pitching themselves as an expert and building credibility through the right messaging, at the right times and using the right mediums. This is crucial for small businesses and start ups as it positioning yourself in the market without spending huge amounts on advertising campaigns.

Literally – building relations with the business’s public – helps to personify a business when the business owner shares their unique story with the media and its customers. Strategically building content and exposure with PR can also help a business to organically grow their social media audience and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

Three ways to implement PR

There are different ways of implementing PR Strategies for start-ups:

  1. Give it a go and do your own PR – research the best ways of growing brand awareness independently, reach out to relevant media outlets or events, network with the right people and get your personality known…
  2. Hire a PR consultant or freelancer – if you’re unsure about where to even start with the above option, consulting with a PR expert is a good option as they will give guidance and knowledge on the best strategies to achieve your business goals
  3. Hire an agency – if you have more of a budget, a larger agency can give even more expertise and support with building brand awareness and striking the right tone with your key audience

Candice Meisels is a certified tertiary level PR and marketing trainer. She is also an author and has published The Power of PR: PR for Small Businesses and Marketing and PR Strategy, Strengthen Your Strategy.  Candice is passionate about helping micro businesses through to medium-sized businesses.

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Candice Meisels

Candice Meisels

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