Five steps towards formulating a PR plan for small businesses

Carolyn Hughes discusses how a small company owner can take on their own PR and media communications regime.

It’s a good idea to start thinking about PR right from the early stages of your business as the practice is all about improving your reputation and increasing trust in your product, brand or service.

The third-party accreditation you get from a journalist choosing to write about your business is something that cannot be bought.

PR is also vital in underpinning the communications messages generated through other marketing activities such as advertising, pay per click (PPC) or search engine optimisation (SEO).

However, if you decide to do your own PR, it can be quite overwhelming. Here’s five steps to guide you through putting together a PR plan and give you a head start.

Think about your business messages

Write down the three business messages you wish to communicate to your audience. This is important as you will need to keep coming back to these messages to check that your communications are incorporating them .

It’s a good way to focus your communication strategy and ensure you stay on-message with your PR activity.

Find out where your audiences are

It’s also crucial to stay focused and not to employ a scattergun approach. This is especially important if you are doing your own PR as you don’t want to waste time.

If you have a bricks and mortar shop, you will probably want to target regional press to reach your local audience. If you are a business to business company, you might decide that your audience reads specific trade publications, for example.

Related: How to make a small business PR plan

You will want to target different audiences depending on the product, service or news story you want to promote, so write down all of the publications that you think it would be beneficial for your business to be featured in.

You should also read the publications you want to be featured in regularly to familiarise yourself with their voice and style.

Set objectives and goals to evaluate your PR campaign

Before you start calling journalists, it’s essential to set objectives and goals to review what you’ve done, what has gone right and where you want to go in the future.

Factors you could measure include:

  • Number of articles achieved
  • Number of mentions/ articles in key publications
  • Reach (amount of readership / page views of publication)
  • Increase in website hits
  • Mentions of your key messages
  • Mentions of your brand

Ideally, your results should increase over time and you should be able to tie in results with other marketing as well.

Think about the types of content you want to release

Now you’re ready to flesh out your PR plan. A good place to start is to brainstorm lots of different content ideas. These can range from company announcements and opinion articles about your industry, to your own blog posts or commenting in relevant features.

The next step is to find the best vehicle for these content ideas. These could be:

  • Press releases
  • Case studies
  • Bylined opinion articles
  • Guest blog posts
  • Speaking opportunities
  • Blogger outreach
  • Social media
  • Reacting to industry news (providing a quote in an article)

Put your schedule together

Now organise your content into a six-month schedule. Remember everything takes longer than you first anticipate so make sure you have enough time to actually do the work.

Aim to have one piece of content written, pitched and placed per month.

Don’t plan to send out too many press releases in short succession as it will be overkill and may annoy journalists.

Overall, putting together a PR plan can seem like too much work for a small business, but broken down step by step it’s easily achievable.

Further reading on PR

Carolyn Hughes

Carolyn Hughes

Carolyn is a freelance PR consultant for digital and tech, professional services and SMEs.

Related Topics

PR and Communications

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