Dominating Digital: Small Business Public Relations [Infographic]
Dominating Your Small Business PR
How do people view your brand? Public Relations is all about building a positive perception. Unlike marketing campaigns that result in a more immediate sales boost, PR successes can be harder to track but are no less important. Your brand’s reputation may be difficult to put a value on, but it sure can cost you when damaged.
Strong brand value and positive image are critical to long-term success, and Small Business Public Relations is an ongoing effort. When setting a strategy for the year, think about the exposure your brand had in the previous year. Perhaps you want more mentions in the media or to raise your Google review score. Maybe you want to get more involved with your community. In the third installment of our Dominating Digital series, we discuss types of Small Business PR you should be thinking about.
Online Reputation Management (ORM)
Online Reputation Management means knowing what people are saying about you online and delivering a response. Having a strong reputation helps bring in new customers, partners, and employees. Managing that reputation means taking control of what people find when they research your company. Here are a few ways your small business can manage its Online Reputation.
Monitor the Digital Conversation
It is good practice to set up alerts when your brand has been mentioned online. Specifically make sure you are monitoring brand mentions in the news and on social media, reviews (Google, Yelp, Glassdoor, Better Business Bureau, TripAdvisor, etc.), and comments on your content.
A good way to cover some basics is by setting up Google Alerts for key terms. If you find you are getting a fair amount of mentions online, the best way to monitor all of these is to find a subscription service. Services like Social Report, can create a Search Inbox of your brand mentions and those who made them. Making it easier than ever to respond and delight your customers.
Respond to Online Reviews
Whether your business got a review, a shout out on social media, or a comment on your blog you need to take the time to respond. If the mention was positive, just show your appreciation with a quick note of thanks or a thoughtful comment.
If the mention was negative, fight the urge to delete it, take a breath, and plan your response. The way your brand responds to negative feedback can be an asset when done right or irritate a customer more if done wrong.
Ask & You Shall Receive
The more reviews you have, the more likely your overall rating accurately reflects your business. 86% of customers read online reviews so embrace them because they aren’t going away.
To get more reviews you need to ask, but ask at the right moment. If your customer hasn’t had time to use their purchase, they won’t be likely to review it. The easier you make it for customers to review your business, the higher the chance they will. Send an email a few days after purchase asking how their experience was with a link to your preferred review site. If you get an email from a happy customer, ask them if they wouldn’t mind sharing that great experience on a given platform!
Small Business Media Relations
To create a positive perception of your brand, people have to read your stories. Having your business mentioned by a media outlet is great free exposure and, if the mention includes a link to your website, it is an SEO boost. If you haven’t had success with this yet that is because it isn’t easy. Journalists are in need of stories, but you need to create a compelling one to get their attention.
- Tell a story that is unique & interesting
- Use your expertise to educate people
- Tell a human-interest story about a special employee or client
- Share a relevant experience that is “on trend” or popular
You can create your own list of publications to pitch to, or partner with a PR firm that already has contacts. Adding yourself as an expert source on HARO (Help A Reporter Out) can get you media coverage. HARO connects journalists with sources when they are working on a story and need a quote or expertise.
MAJOR NOTE: If a journalist uses your article or discusses your business, make sure to promote the article on your social assets, website, in emails, etc. Journalists will more likely to work with you again if they see your appreciation.
Consumers love to support local businesses. An effective way to promote a positive perception of your brand is to start within your community. You can stay informed and network with other local businesses all while helping your community.
- Purchase a table at a local event
- Donate money, time, or talent to fundraisers
- Partner with and cross-promote other businesses
- Join your Chamber of Commerce – Shout out to the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce
When most people think of hiring a PR firm, they think of the crisis scenario. These are the things that could ruin a business if handled poorly. While you may never have to deal with a major crisis, you will make mistakes that affect your customers. In 2014, Shutterfly sent a marketing email congratulating some customers on their new baby. The problem was, a huge number of people who got the email did not have a baby!
When these things happen, your goal is to minimize reputation damage and retain trust. You will want to contact everyone affected, address the issue honestly and openly, offer a sincere apology, and let your customers know what steps you have taken to make it right AND avoid it in the future.
Public Relations is an ongoing role. It may seem like you simply don’t have the time for it, but the long-term benefits of positive exposure, engaging with customers, and building community relationships will keep your brand valuable and strong in any market conditions.
What way does your brand maintain its public image? Let us know by leaving a comment.