The Small Business Professor: Public Relations

Most entrepreneurs know that good public relations are needed to sell products or services. Public relations, and the narrower focus of media relations, contribute to the environment of your overall marketplace. By that, I mean the specific reputation of your products, customer service, personnel and competition. Why does anyone do business with one company or another? There are many reasons and factors, but part of it depends upon your company’s name recognition and reputation.

Get the names and contact information of the business editors of the regional and major publications. Call the editors to introduce yourself and your business and offer your expertise to them if they are ever doing a story which relates to your particular area. Editors always need sources especially when a big story is going down. Even if you own the local plumbing franchise, you may be called by an editor to comment when the county sewage system backs up. Get to know the editors in your field. If you have a small Widget store, get to know the editors of Widget World, Widget Today or whatever the publication that speaks to your particular market.

Join local business groups, contact people you’ve worked with in the past for recommendations and take advantage of your LinkedIn account, www.linkedin.com, and other social media sites to find new clients. Also, consider giving presentations to targeted groups. This way, you can share your expertise, provide valuable information and meet potential new customers in person

Publishing an article is one of the greatest public relations tools. It positions you to look like an expert and gets you free publicity . Get a website or get it in order by linking to other sites. Websites are a wonderful public relations tool.

Video is rapidly becoming an essential feature on Web sites. Web video is particularly important for small and mid-sized businesses as they represent the largest percentage of online businesses in the US.

When your business gets to a certain size, you’ll need to hire a professional firm because you will want exposure in larger markets. You also won’t have time to use these strategies; you’ll need someone who has specific expertise and relationships with the media that you don’t have time to form. You’ll know you need a professional firm when the time comes, because it will be worth more to you to pay someone else to do it than to do it yourself.

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