By Mark Kaley, PR Manager — Otter PR

As a small business owner, you juggle a lot of responsibilities. Emergencies arise. Schedules overflow. You can easily neglect little tasks, like sharing newsworthy content about your product or service, creating buzz around milestones and awards, and promoting new hires and product launches. However, public relations is the best way to grow your small business and keep all your plates in the air. If you give it the attention it deserves, it will support every facet of your company as it scales, from marketing and sales to human resources and finance. 

How small businesses leverage PR as a sales tool

Before your small business can make its first sale, you need to let people know who you are and what you offer. PR is the most effective way to get your brand out there and make a name for yourself among potential customers, investors, and stakeholders. A public relations specialist finds the avenues and messaging to let people know what you do and why they should choose your brand over everyone else.

Many small businesses believe ads are the path to sales, but PR can go much deeper. Public relations allows your small business to generate leads in the same way as paid advertising. The difference is that PR builds credibility, trust, and relationships between you and your potential clients. 

PR is an ongoing process, but it can work quickly, too. Thanks to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, information spreads at lightning speed among millions of people. Your PR specialist can reach out to your target audience and sow the seeds of a relationship and reputation that will last for years.

How small businesses leverage PR as a marketing tool

Unlike commercials or advertisements, PR allows you to communicate indirectly with potential customers by sharing your story through the back door of industry publications and trusted online news sites. You gain access to media outlets you would otherwise never have been able to reach with paid ads. Furthermore, these outlets share your story at no cost because the information interests their followers. 

For example, as a new entrepreneur, you probably had an inspiring idea, a transformative mission, or a challenge to overcome during the early days of your startup. People don’t want to listen to a commercial, but they do like to hear a story. When a video or podcast features your story, people see others engaging with your brand and become curious about what makes it so appealing. Furthermore, you are not only reaching the people who engage with those outlets, but also the friends and family members who follow them on social media.  

This type of marketing is not as simple as shelling out money for Google ads. Marketing through public relations requires effort and expertise. First, you need to know what people want to hear about your small business. When you pitch your brand to podcasts, trusted news outlets, and industry-specific blogs, they are not looking for self-promotion. They will only publish content that intrigues their followers. 

In addition, you will need to ensure that your branding and messaging remain consistent across all channels. As people spot your small business time after time in different places, your reputation becomes stronger. Keeping little things like your logo, colors, and images consistent lends you authority and credibility. 

Finally, if you want to see the results of your PR marketing campaign, you need to be responsive. PR is a relationship — it is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. As such, devote time each day to relationship management. As you upload content to social media channels, be ready to engage with questions and comments from your followers. As you reach out to reporters with media pitches, be prepared to respond quickly to phone calls, emails, and texts. As you receive invitations from podcast hosts, influencers, and bloggers, thank them for their time and build a relationship that extends beyond that contribution. 

How small businesses leverage PR as a business development tool

PR enables your growing business to build relationships with potential partners and customers. A PR specialist knows how to position you as an expert and thought leader in your field. This authority can translate into increased leads for your business.

As you establish credibility within your industry by speaking at events, appearing as an expert guest on podcasts, and writing articles for trade publications and blogs, people will see your success and want to work with you.

PR drives sales, but it is about so much more. Your campaign will build relationships with customers, suppliers, partners, the media, and the community. A PR specialist helps you achieve growth by building strong relationships with your current stakeholders and reaching out to form new partnerships.

In short, PR is how small businesses grow and thrive in today’s world. It can help your brand connect with customers, build a brand identity, and expand your reach into new markets.