Why and how to build a PR strategy for your business

Many startups think PR is out of reach for them – they think that they need big budgets for a PR agency, or a little black book of contacts, a huge amount of time or they need to wait until their business is bigger. But in my experience, this isn’t the case – there are ways that start-up businesses can bootstrap their PR whilst achieving great results that help to build their brand, drive sales, help their SEO, create trust triggers and get them talked about by the right people in front of their target audience.

The most effective PR is the strategic kind; getting a bit of press coverage here and there is great for the ego but not necessarily going to shift the dial for your business and help it to grow. And that is why, even when you’re a lean startup, I would really encourage you to have a plan.  I’m not talking a 65 page power point (been there and got the agency T-Shirt) It can be a simple one pager, but something that’s considered and thought through will help you focus and save you a lot of time in the long run.

The key to putting together an effective PR strategy is knowing what your business objectives are and understanding who your target audience is and working back from there.  A startup that’s aiming for investment, for example, would have a different PR approach to a business that’s looking to drive sales around key seasonal times.

What’s more, a strategy saves you time in the long run because it stops you doing things that aren’t going to have an impact on your business. It helps you to say no to things that won’t shift the dial and allows you to prioritise the things that will.

The other thing to remember when you’re working on your strategy is that PR isn’t just about media coverage.  Don’t forget there’s lots of other ways to get your business talked about in front of your target audience.

Here are my top tips on building an effective PR strategy for your business:

  1. Know your business objectives – have you sat down and thought about what you want to achieve and what’s going to help you get there?
  2. Who is your target audience? Spend some time thinking about who they are, what do they read? Where do they get their information from?
  3. Do Your Research – Get to know the relevant media and other PR routes that will reach that audience. Remember that you aren’t your audience.  Immerse yourself and start training your brain to look for opportunities for your business.
  4. Use your network – one of the easiest ways to get started with your PR is reaching out to your network. Who could you collaborate with? How could you tap into someone else’s audience whilst giving them some great content or insight that benefits the both of you?  Get comfortable with getting uncomfortable, asking questions and putting yourself out there. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They might say no of course (and does it matter if they do? At least you can move on). But what if they say yes?
  5. Get Started – the biggest difference that I see between the startups who are getting PR for their business, and those who aren’t – is the doing. Putting it off, procrastinating, waiting for a better time when you’ve achieved X,Y or Z. Whilst I don’t advocate starting your PR until you’ve got a few key things in place (great imagery, your website up and running and being able to fulfil products or services), putting it off isn’t serving your business. The thing to remember with PR is that, usually, it’s a slow build, it takes time to build your reputation and get your brand out there, so the sooner you start the better. What are you waiting for?