Often I talk with local business owners, friends and fellow entrepreneurs, who when they find out my line of business, ask for basic Public Relations tips that they can immediately put into action. I never mind offering such advice because they’re usually the starting fixes I would ask any client to make before we dive deeper into an all-encompassing PR strategy. Just like a doctor might first recommend some lifestyle changes before prescribing you medication, I too recommend these 5 Public Relations tips before prescribing we do something more “invasive.”
1. Update you web site content. Whether you created your web site or you outsourced this to a firm, you should have the working knowledge to make basic changes to your content as needed. This is crucial in ensuring your visitors and potential clients are always given the most up to date information about your business and services. If you want someone to view you as competent, professional and organized, your web site should reflect this same image. My best suggestion is to initially create web site content that is simple, direct and avoids using dates or specifics. This will help to give the content longevity and prevent you from having to update it on a weekly basis. Featuring upcoming events and your most recent blog post on your homepage are great ideas and can usually be automated through Google Calendars or WordPress. If you don’t choose to automate these features, just remember to set a calendar alert to remind you to update it when appropriate. I suggest never letting more than a week go by with obviously outdated content left visible on your web site.
2. Social media profiles – use it or lose it. Rarely would I suggest for a client to not utilize social media; however in most of these instances, I am the person who is managing their social media so I can ensure it is staying updated and on target. When simply offering outside Public Relations advice, I strongly advocate that your social media should be a positive representation of your business. If your Twitter profile is stagnant and your Facebook group has just 7 fans, then is social media really helping your business’s image or has it become a hindrance? If you don’t currently have the time to manage your social media nor do you have the means to outsource this, it is better to close down the account than push your potential customers to a page that negatively represents your organization and consistency. Just as you wouldn’t open a new store front and not put an employee at the front counter, opening a social media account and letting it sit vacant provides the same unprofessional, unwelcoming impression to visitors.
3. Communicate consistently. Similar to what I have talked about in my tips for blogging, consistent communication is paramount. Firing off three emails or three blog posts in one week and then going silent for 4 months is not effective in furthering your business’ message. I highly recommend not missing out on the opportunity to communicate with your publics, but I do suggest you choose a regular schedule for communication and stick with it. There are various low-cost ways in which you can establish regular communication. One would be creating a monthly e-newsletter through MailChimp and for fewer than 2,000 subscribers, this is completely free. I don’t recommend a personal e-blast sent directly from your email, because customers appreciate the opportunity to “opt-out” if they so desire and a professional email template goes a long way in also establishing you as a professional business.
4. Become a resource. All of the Public Relations tips I’ve mentioned also provide the opportunity for you to establish yourself and your business as a resource in your industry. Your web site content, social media updates and monthly e-newsletters or blogs should all work together to achieve this. Looking at Bennis Inc as an example, my web site content uses various locations to communicate that my services are focus on creating customized Public Relations strategies at competitive and flexible rates. My blog, also linked from my homepage slider, provides tips and advice on entrepreneurship, social media, blogging and Public Relations (like today’s). Finally, on my social media profiles like Facebook and Linkedin, I share these same blog posts (to reach my contacts that aren’t yet subscribers) and I often share articles, quotes and web sites that keep the pulse on emerging Public Relations trends. When you make yourself a resource, you build a relationship of trust and confidence with your networks. Regardless of whether they’re a client now, when the time comes when they do need a service your business offers, they will remember the confidence they have in your expertise and come to your first.
5. Evaluate your business’s message regularly. People are constantly growing and changing. And because businesses are run by people, they too are constantly growing and changing. The mission of your business that you started with years ago may no longer reflect what it has since developed into. One of the most basic and most important Public Relations tips I can provide is to regularly evaluate, and as needed update, the message your business communicates with its publics. Think about where your business gains most of its income, where you’ve developed a level of expertise and what sets you apart. All of these should be mentioned in your concise mission statement. If it changes regularly as your business grows, that’s very normal. As you learn more about your business and the direction in which it is headed, you will need to adjust your mission. Be sure to use the four other Public Relations tips I’ve provided as opportunities to weave this message into everything else you do.
I hope this “PR Prescription” has provided you with some healthy tips for your business’s communication strategy. What I enjoy so much about giving this advice is that people can immediately put it into action and see results. Whether you’re a business owner or in a position to suggest these changes to the company for which you work, I look forward to hearing about how you choose to implement them and the results it brings about. Please share!