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  • Writer's pictureCascade Communications

Why PR Works For Startups & Small Business

integrated PR strategy

Small businesses and entrepreneurs understand the value of PR but for different reasons. Startups want to attract customers and investors while others want to generate awareness to increase sales. Yet, few really understand why PR works for startups and small businesses, how it works and what the opportunities are for their business

This often causes confusion. Most people believe that PR is just a feature on your business, but it can be so much more than that. Public relations is about building relationships with media as a valuable story source and that can come in various forms - features, mentions and inclusions, expert commentary and articles, tips & advice, or expert on industry and business trends.

The real struggle is understanding what we PR people do and why is it expensive. In fact, because most marketing tools come with immediate, tangible deliverables for the cost of the fee, PR is a longer play that has uncontrollable dynamics - journalists, trending and breaking news. There is an intangible with PR that is similar to the sales cycle. We are the conduit, selling your story to media to get interest that will result in a story, mention or quote.

Why PR Works For Small Business

As an agency that works exclusively with startups to small enterprise, I am often asked the question "why should we go with PR?" The answers are quite simple:

1. Public relations is a more affordable alternative for small businesses - vs. an aggressive advertising or direct mail campaign

2. The right story, at the right time to the right journalist can transform your business

3. PR is the process in which media provide endorsements for your business

3. Media endorsements create perceived credibility in the minds of consumers/customers

4. You can actually see the return on your PR investment - some of my clients see immediate sales and growth with one local, industry or national story!

Now throw in the power of social media in your communications/PR program and the word-of-mouth power it can generate to boost your traditional media efforts. PR offers valuable content that can be shared through searchable channels - online newsroom, relevant social channels - amplifying your message and increasing reputation.

Today, PR is a serious marketing element to consider for your business. Why? I already said it - it's the most affordable marketing tool you can use to grow your business, generate awareness and credibility for your brand.

It's TRUE! Most people don't really understand how PR works because it is so different from advertising, direct mail, sponsorship and others where you actually see a physical return on your investment. PR requires patience and a good professional who knows how to craft your story in a way that will attract the attention of media.

As I mentioned, I have seen clients go from $100k in annual revenues to a million dollars in revenue in under two years just with PR alone. Expanding and amplifying can have an even bigger impact.

If budget is a barrier, the other alternative is learning to do PR on your own. The challenge is that it can take time and energy that most business owners don't have. I wrote a book that will help you define your newsworthy story to garner positive PR on your own, but until then it's important to understand why PR can be difficult to accomplish on your own...and why it can be easier to outsource to an expert.

The number one reason: PR is a journalism-based industry. It takes an understanding of news, what makes a great news story and how to write your story and develop a strong strategy to generate a solid PR results for your business. And speaking of results, it's important to understand, first, what your objectives are with the campaign.

Does this seem overwhelming? It shouldn't. We live in a "headline world" thanks to social media and a minute by minute news cycle thanks to the internet. Start by observing those posts and headlines - especially on Twitter (Threads) - that create interest to make you click and then create something similar for your own business. Run it by your team, family and friends for feedback on whether it sparks interest in them to learn more. That's a good test.

At the end of the day, an integrated approach to PR including content and search is the game changer for every business. As search engines and the way people search continues to change, it is more important now than before that companies adopt and use this approach now to be ahead in the future.

This type of strategy can be an investment, but worth it for long-term branding and growth.

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