There are numerous preconceived notions about the field of public relations and the everyday life of a PR professional. Many Americans may envision a Hollywood landscape of exclusive events, material excess and prestige, while others visualize an individual furiously hammering phones and email, determined to lock down an interview with an elusive editor. While the idealized pomp and circumstance of the publicity field may have found its way into some people’s schemas, the fact of the matter is that it’s closer to the latter, and shares many of the cornerstones that define any customer-centric small business.
Your company may be seeking ways to employ public relations principles in your business model, but are unclear on how to properly implement them, or fail to see how the application of PR tactics can prove beneficial. The truth is the fundamental pillars of running an effective and efficient publicity campaign are mutually inclusive with the methods that carve out a lucrative niche in your community with your small business.
The president of a publicity agency and the manager of a local brick and mortar boutique have the same overriding goal in mind: client retention. On paper, the operational ways and means may appear vastly different – connecting with reporters and editors vs. connecting with the community – but the similarities that these brands of businesses share far outweigh the differences. You can adhere to a variety of principles when aiming to build and maintain a rich customer base, but there are four that are absolutely essential to ensuring long-term success and profitability.
1. No Matter What, You’re Always Marketing: Public relations executives recognize that their brand and its associated image are the lifeblood of their professional identity, and any blemishes incurred can derail the potential for lucrative returns. In the same vein that a PR firm would continually promote their services as results-driven and effectual, small businesses must utilize ‘round-the-clock marketing to promote their goods and services through a scope of success and viability, and safeguard against any possible harm to their reputations. Whether you’re a clerk at the point of sale or the owner representing the company at the local chamber of commerce meeting, your actions or inaction can throw a monkey wrench into the gears of your vision and goals. There is never a moment, on or off the clock, that you are not representing your company: maintain marketing vigilance.
2. Timeliness is Next to Godliness, So Take to the Internet: Nowhere is the phrase ‘strike while the iron is hot’ more pertinent than in the public relations industry, where reporters are on tight deadlines and the window of opportunity to have your client featured may be as minute as the time between your pitch hitting their inbox and the next. Where print publications and broadcast agencies can be viewed as a PR agent’s ‘customers’ as they require information in a concise, time-sensitive manner, your physical customers demand and expect the same level of timely service.
With the explosion of social media platforms and the newfound ability of ‘point-and-click’ problem solving, the area of customer service has become acutely streamlined. Small businesses should unquestionably appoint an online CSR to meet many of their clientele where they are – on laptops in living rooms, classrooms and offices – to address their issues and expedite their resolution. Long lines, brain-jarring jingles while on hold and service-delays are ill-fated means of the past and rapid roads to business-closure; accelerate your customer-service practices by logging on and establishing a strictly monitored social media presence.
3. Flexibility Creates Longevity: Obstinance has no place in the realm of small business. More often than not, start-ups in their infancy transform into thriving companies on the backs of minor ‘freebies’ or ‘throw-ins,’ as these are the kinds of actions that are appreciated and remembered by customers. With a daily influx of new businesses developing creative ways to entice your business, maintaining a first-rate level of flexibility is priority one to building brand loyalty in your community. The extra steps you take will not go unnoticed by your clientele, and will do worlds to preserving your long-term bottom line.
4. Begin with the End in Mind: Goal-setting is intrinsic to any functional publicity campaign, and while every client would relish a weekly feature in a major news publication, the actuality is that achieving that outcome is a distant outlier to the likely results. Tempering expectations and working with each individual client to zero-in on realistic, attainable goals should be conducted at the outset of a PR endeavor, and it directly corresponds to the process that should occur when setting your annual business benchmarks.
Beginning with the end in mind means exactly that: go into any new undertaking with an understanding of an array of possible outcomes, and focus in on the most plausible. Your small business will not evolve into a global conglomerate overnight, and you may endure a few unsteady quarters before you finally perfect your formula for profitability. There is a growth-curve with any small business, and you should let your goals reflect that reality when you jot down your targets for the year.
Contrary to some unsubstantiated belief, public relations professionals do not reside in some corporate Ivory Tower, conducting the bulk of their business in swanky lounges and on the greens of golf courses. The majority of publicity work is based on the same foundations of the small business – a stout presence in the community, timely and flexible customer service and a goal-setting strategy designed for realistic achievement. By employing these four PR-to-small business parallels and making them a hallmark of your operation, you establish a customer-centric game plan that will build lifetime loyalty and success.
Russell Trahan is President of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online. PR/PR represents experts of all kinds who are seeking national exposure for their business or organization. Russell and PR/PR will raise your business’ awareness in the eyes of your clients and customers. For more information, please visit www.prpr.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.