Public relations essentials for small businesses

March 16, 2022
Janine Allen

Chances are, you’ve read about big companies that have done a good (or bad!) job with their public relations. Given all the news, it is tempting to think that only big companies need PR, but all businesses need public relations because all businesses have a “public”.

For a small business, understanding the needs of your public(s) – and learning how to communicate in the way they want you to – is a crucial business success tool.

If you’ve landed on this article because you wonder whether your small business could benefit from a PR strategy or you’re interested in building greater awareness for your brand, products or services, where do you start?

Simply put, public relations is the practice of strategically communicating to your stakeholders to build and maintain a positive brand image – and that can be for a person or a company. So, if you have:

  • employees to communicate to
  • customers to satisfy
  • partners with whom you want to do business
  • journalists whom you want to encourage to write positively about you and/or your business and services/products

…then you need a PR plan.

We understand how important it is to prioritize the marketing and communications tactics that will be most effective in achieving your objectives. As such, we’ve compiled a short list of what we believe to be the Small Business PR Essentials.

  1. Build a content calendar
  • Have a lot to say but don’t know how or when to say it? Start with a content calendar. This simple tool will help you identify what milestones or announcements you have coming up that you will need to communicate to stakeholders.
  • When those are identified, think about the content that you could create to fill in the communications gaps, which would provide your unique perspective on a topic or issue relating to your business or industry.
  • Then, identify the channel that is most effective to reaching your audiences with that message. It could be a newsletter, press release, social media, broadcast or other communications mediums.
  1. Provide consistent communications for employees
  • In the absence of information, rumours and speculation find a breeding ground.
  • For this reason, and to build overall credibility with your most important stakeholders, establish and commit to a regular communication method for updating and facilitating two-way dialogue with your teams and do it in a consistent manner so they know what to expect and when to expect it.
  1. Make the most of media and speaking opportunities with training
  • In a deadline-driven world of 24-hour news cycles and increased competition for coveted media opportunities, spokespeople need to be highly adept at delivering clear and persuasive messages, while making the most of every media interaction.
  • The right preparation and practice provides the opportunity to build an organization’s reputation and profile with media.
  • This specialized training can also apply to speaking opportunities which will help develop your skills in delivering presentations or speeches, large or small.
  1. Pay attention to your website
  • It doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does have to communicate quickly and clearly who you are and what you do.
  • Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. It takes a user about half a second to form an opinion about your website that impacts whether they stay and peruse the site or bounce (to your competitor’s!).
  • Make sure people can find the information they’re looking for right away…including on desktop and mobile. And keep it fresh!
  • According to research from Stanford, 75% of users admit that they judge a company’s credibility based on their website’s design.
  1. Check your digital footprint
  • Interested publics will google you. Make sure the brand you portray online is the one you want them to see.
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and active, and there are bios online for your leadership team as well.
  • Finally, pay attention to where your company appears in the results when you search. You don’t want people to have to scroll past the first page to find you.

If you are still considering whether a PR plan is right for your business, remember that small businesses do tend to have an early advantage over their enterprise counterparts – closer connections to their employees, customers and partners.

But to keep it that way, a little PR can go a long way!

Have a question? Interested in finding out more?