The View From… is a series of blogs where we speak to experts in different professions and gather their learnings and lessons from the work they do with small business clients. Rachael Taplin is the CEO and Founder of Media Matchmaking service BlueBoo Media.
The most common mistake a small business makes when they are trying to promote themselves publicly is one of confidence – they just don’t know where to start.
They don’t know how to write a press release. They don’t know who to send it to. And, finally, they don’t know which media outlet to approach.
Good marketing and PR go hand in hand and it is important for small businesses to get it right and not be too easily daunted by it.
Here are some of the ways you can do that…
Position yourself as an expert
You might want others to view yourself as a “Consumer Champion”, like Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, or “Retail Champion” Clare Bailey (formerly Clare Rayner). Expert opinions are always sought after and you can offer yours in relation to your industry.
If you position yourself as an expert, media outlets can approach you to ask your expert professional opinion on news, changes in law or a special commemorative day e.g World Book Day or International Women’s Day.
With the rise of the influencer, now’s a good time to position yourself as the expert. There are over 700,000 influencers in the UK that share their knowledge and expertise.
If you have a social media profile, and regularly communicate to your community via your blog or email campaigns, then you are already an influencer and the next step is to simply connect to the media and share your expertise.
Remember, the role of the journalist is to interview you and to ask the questions. Your job is to be a great source of information and to be a sector specialist.
All too often, small businesses lack confidence when it comes to publicly promoting their brand to media outlets: online, TV, radio, social media and so on. You need to believe in your business and your own story and media outlets will pick up on this.
Have a unique selling point (USP) to grab their attention. Start small by connecting with your local and regional media. Listen to your local BBC Radio station and see if there are any topical debates that you can contribute to.
The media are always on the hunt for new stories so have the confidence to approach them with a relevant story that could inspire their audience. Set up Google alerts to see what is trending within your expertise or sector and then offer your opinion and viewpoint both to your community and to the media.
Build up relationships
Knowing the right people, and, in the case of PR, knowing the right media outlets and journalists, is key to drumming up media interest in your business.
All too often, small businesses send their press releases to the wrong journalist or media outlet and they are just ignored and get no press coverage.
Try and build up long-term relationships with journalists – print, online and broadcast – they are people too! As a small business, you can return to them again and again, not only if you have something new to tell them, e.g. a change in management, a celebrity backer, a new product, but just to keep in touch generally about how the business is expanding.
Send them an introductory email and tell them how much you enjoy their content and that you feel their audience would also be interested in what you have to say.
Highlight your areas of expertise and suggest that you would be willing to provide them with ongoing articles and if you can add a link to your recent blogs.