DIY PR: Making PR Accessible for Small Businesses

Dollars & Sense — By on March 11, 2014 at 8:00 am

For a small business, public relations is typically viewed as a nice-to-have with PR agency costs far outside a business’s budget. Not to be confused with advertising, PR helps build credibility with a business’s target audience, and when approached with a little bit of creativity, actually can be budget-friendly.

But why should a business focus on PR and advertising? Head of Garrett Public Relations, Michelle Garrett, shares some solid statistics as to why a business should plan for both.

“A study by Roper Public Affairs shows that 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in article form rather than in an advertisement,” she says. In addition, ContentPlus found, “Seventy percent of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads.”

PR centers around highlighting events that make a business newsworthy – launching a new product or service, moving to or opening a new location, new hires, upcoming events, etc. Getting attention from just one publication can mean a host of publicity for a small business.

And these opportunities are more accessible than a small business might think. With a few tips and a little bit of DIY, Garrett provides many solutions for small businesses to manage their own PR.

Hire Freelancers.

Freelance PR agents are a good alternative to and often less expensive than agencies.

“An experienced freelance consultant can probably spend ‘x’ amount of hours per month or week and it would probably be much less expensive than an agency,” Garrett says. Instead of $5,000 to $10,000 a month for an agency, Garrett finds a freelancer might range from $75 to $125 per hour.

Working with freelancers also offers more flexibility. Once a project is completed, a business owner can evaluate if the expense was worthwhile or if funds should be allocated elsewhere.

Submit Press Releases. 

Don’t underestimate the value of a well-placed press release. A release that’s picked up for even one story creates many opportunities for a business to share their message.

“Once you get a story out you can use it in all these different ways, and plug it in all these different marketing methods,” Garrett says. Basically, publicize your PR.

Garrett recommends some free press release wire services including pr.com and prlog.org, as well as making a list of local resources to push the release out to. Posting to wire services has other advantages.

“It will get you on the search engines which helps with SEO,” Garrett says.

Finally Garrett also suggests utilizing free service Help a Reporter Out. Reporters post inquiries looking for sources for stories, business owners with knowledge on a requested topic can reply and potentially be credited as a source in a story.

Utilize Your Employees. 

Maybe your administrator really loves to write, or your accountant is a social media wiz. Garrett says look for employees who may be able to do tasks like write blog posts, press releases or website copy, or update social media. Such opportunities give them a chance to do something outside of their normal duties.

Garrett suggests making a reasonable plan like writing one press release and one article a month, along with three social media posts a week. Gauge what employees can do on their own. Make time and start small, then re-evaluate needs as time passes. She finds that once a company’s efforts start garnering attention, may are eager to continue their PR practices.

Look for Creative Opportunities. 

Garrett advocates creative ways for a small business to get their name out there. Look for speaking engagements or apply for awards, basically anything a business could highlight their efforts on to then post on social media or in their blog.

“Once you start looking for things to feed the PR machine, there are any number of ways you can keep your name out there,” she says.

Many small businesses don’t need a full-blown PR agency campaign. Garrett advises business owners to think about what makes the most sense for their company, and don’t get overwhelmed with the options.

“Pick out what you think is going to be the easiest to get started with, or get you the furthest the fastest, and try it,” she says.

For more information, visit michellegarrett.com.

Susan Post Susan Post (243 Articles)

Susan is the lead staff writer for TheMetropreneur.com and also completes assignments as a freelance writer & editor. She loves writing about her city - and learning a thing or two from her clients along the way. Susan holds a degree in Communication with a minor in Professional Writing from The Ohio State University. You can find her exploring Grandivew, drinking way too much coffee, running, spending time with friends and aiming to become a Columbus foodie.