Posts Tagged ‘small business PR’

Five Myths About Public Relations

April 6th, 2010

With the heat in DC nearing 20 degrees above normal today, it’s time to vent!  Figuratively, at least… So, let’s get right to it.  Here are five myths about public relations – or misconceptions, mistakes and shaky assumptions business owners make at their own peril:

“PR is a waste of money.” Truth is, positive publicity is a fundamental growth element, and without it your customer base will never expand.  Business owners can easily forget that even customer word-of-mouth is actually good publicity by another name.  If your small business has a reservoir of goodwill, what steps are you taking to capitalize on that?  And it’s not just the obvious attention-getting opportunities that count.  Skilled publicists know how to identify and seize openings for publicity that the busy entrepreneur may not see, the way a smart accountant knows how to maximize deductions.

“Once I get a good spot of PR I can go back to laughing all the way to the bank.” Yeah, try telling that to Toyota.  After months of relentless negative publicity, Toyota’s PR efforts to rectify problems from the mass fleet recall seem to have worked, with recent sales rising significantly.  Then this happened yesterday, and now Toyota needs another round of smart, aggressive PR tactics to get back on track.  Good public relations means never taking your eye off the ball – or tweets, Facebook page, chattering class or whoever is talking about you.

“My product/service/awesomeness will generate press all on its own.” Possibly, if you are this guy and happen to sell this.  But if that’s not you, then you’ll need help.  Building positive publicity requires the same immense discipline, passion and resolve as creating a new product or service, since you are essentially generating something from nothing.  If you’re not on the radar of reporters and bloggers covering your industry, then you should consider professional advice on how to get there.

“I went to law school/I kick ass on Jeopardy/I always win arguments; therefore, I will control/intimidate/steamroll any reporter interviewing me.” Most journalists are fair, hard-working and want to deliver thoughtful perspective and comment on interesting issues.  While some may have cavalier morality when it comes to ethics, they don’t represent the high standard in their profession.  But never forget – just like your aim is to generate commerce, a media outlet’s aim is to generate attention.  If you haven’t been media trained before you do an interview, you run serious risk of your answers being twisted into a catchy headline, at your expense.  Once it’s printed, you can’t take it back.

“How hard can it be to write an op-ed/letter-to-the-editor/press release?” Like many things in life, a lot harder than you may think – at least if you want it done right.  Many business professionals are excellent writers, but may not know how to identify all relevant stakeholders and use a media platform to make messages resonate with each one.

With these principles in mind, and with the economy on the rebound, now is the best time for business owners to leap ahead of the complacent competition – let clever public relations help fight and win that battle for you.

Getting Small Business Marketing out from under the TARP

December 10th, 2009

Put aside your politics (yes, even in DC!) and evaluate a case study of communications opportunity presenting itself.  This past week, President Obama hosted a White House forum on job creation, and part of the discussion focused on possible federal incentives to support small business recovery.

Obama made the point that while he supports such incentives, “ultimately true economic recovery is only going to come from the private sector.”


Always remember, in public relations, perception consistently trumps reality.  Accordingly, here is what the public perceives and/or is real.  First, the TARP program that blunted the recession actually will cost $200 billion less than the forecasted $341 billion.  While this certainly is good news, the common perception is that TARP helped Wall Street more than it did Main Street, USA (a nod to for excellent analysis).  So, Obama’s private sector argument immediately gets a leg kicked out from it.

Second, with all the discussion on what TARP does for big business, the public misses the point because they don’t hear about (i.e., perceive) what could be done for small business.  This is where small business marketing and small business PR can play a big role, even if it’s just talk being made by one small business.

Effective small business marketing tactics could turn part of the conversation toward the idea of steering more federal bailout money specifically toward small business programs.  The narrative and talking points almost write themselves – with small businesses success offering feel-good stories and great statistics, the small business community has ample room to enter the federal bailout discussion aggressively.

Through blogs, trade associations, chambers of commerce and other platforms, messages of support for small business programs can be broadcast and ultimately force public officials to acknowledge the questions being raised.  When these officials begin making relevant statements and proposals, allies and opposition can be defined, and small business public relations tactics will then prove their worth.