Public relations. What is it? What purpose does it serve? Is it necessary? According to the Public Relations Society of America, PR is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” To put it more simply, PR helps organizations large and small (even nonprofits) gain exposure among key audiences in a variety of ways, and it is certainly not just spin or crisis work.
Whether you are opening a new business or running one that is established and looking to stay relevant as competition creeps in, PR is a must. A PR professional can help increase brand awareness in a way that is natural, not intrusive. One of the most widely known PR functions, media relations, helps your company make headlines. Being included in the newspaper or on TV can work wonders when it comes to educating the public about what you do and who you serve – and media coverage isn’t exclusive to large businesses.
Enhancing your social media presence boosts brand awareness, as well. Posting relevant, engaging content allows you to control the message and communicate directly to consumers without an intermediary. With a conservative spend, you can target specific demographics, locations and more to ensure your message reaches the appropriate people, too.
An integral part of any successful communications plan is creating organized and memorable events. From grand openings and product launches to charity events and special food or beverage tastings, spreading the word about your special event is crucial to its success. We live in an extremely fast-paced world with thousands of things vying for our attention every day, so getting event information in front of the right people takes intentionality and strategy. If it is not shared on social media, submitted to local event calendars or sent to appropriate media contacts who can mention it in their respective outlets, how can you be sure you will experience a great turnout?
While customers are certainly special, the most important stakeholders you have as a business owner are your own employees. Taking advantage of PR assistance helps you avoid internal fires that could result in crises. For example, conducting internal surveys allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of employee satisfaction and engagement and make necessary adjustments based on feedback you receive. Communicating consistently with your internal audience is key, as well. By doing so, team members feel informed, included and valued. These feelings, in turn, can result in a high retention rate and a good reputation in the marketplace.
Public relations is foundational for all organizations, no matter the size. If you don't know how to talk about your business and the channels in which to do so, you are missing a huge opportunity that could take your brand to new heights. As with anything, PR is an investment, but it does not have to be pricey, even when tapping into the mind of a seasoned professional. It is always better to work on a small budget retainer with a trained expert than to leave your brand to an intern or untrained staff person. We at Obsidian Public Relations are here to help. To learn more about our service offerings, visit our website.
Murray Lace is an account manager at Obsidian Public Relations, a PR firm in Downtown Memphis. This blog post is part one of a three-part series on small business reputation management. Continue to follow the Greater Memphis Chamber’s blog for parts two and three.