Tips for building good public relations-ships

Man with microphones in front of him

Wanting to improve the relationship your small business has with public relations? Follow these five tips and take your PR activities to the next level.

On Valentine’s Day you can watch sensible businesswomen skip to work, armed with roses; or observe the line of frazzled men making last minute reservations at popular restaurants.

This Valentines’ Day, I fell in love, all over again… with Public Relations.

Public relations is a lot like dating, after all. To understand why, it’s necessary to understand a little bit about what it is in the first place.

Public relations (PR) is all about communication and making sure the right message is conveyed when people see you or your business. PR focuses on the two-way communication between an organisation and its ideal clients and important stakeholders such as distributors, shareholders, the government or the community. Using social media to reach an audience, or being interviewed by a journalist who represents the public, are just some of the ways you might see PR in action.

Marketing, on the other hand, is about getting people – the right people – to think about you or your business in a certain way, and then getting them to act on that by responding to a call-to-action such as purchasing your product or requesting information about your service. PR plays a big part in getting people to think or feel about a business in a certain way.

Keep in mind that a first-time customer is one that has either switched brands so that they are in a position to do business with you, or they are purchasing something for the very first time. Potential customers are not only required to put money on the table, but they also need to offer up their time, effort and consideration.

So how to you get them to go to dinner with you? PR for small businesses and dating are not at all dissimilar. Here’s five PR (and dating) tips for you:

  1. If you’re looking for a relationship, you need to be where potential partners are. Similarly, if the right people don’t know that your business exists and what it’s all about, how will you increase your customer base?
  2. You need to look for the ideal partner – not just any ol’ person will do. There’s no point looking for Mr or Ms Right at a convention for couples, and there’s little point in your public relations if it is not targeted in its audience and approach.
  3. To have a meaningful relationship, you need to be likeable. A single person might have everything going for them: they might own a house overlooking Sydney Harbour; volunteer at the Children’s Hospital on their days off; and have an international modeling contract. None of these mean squat if they’re not approachable, trustworthy, and likeable. In the same way, your business might have reasonable prices and great products or services on offer, but if people don’t find you to be credible, knowledgeable, experienced, approachable, trustworthy and relevant, why would they choose you over your competitors?
  4. First impressions and reputation count. Your date isn’t just going to take your word for how fantastic a human being you are – they’ll look for signs and clues. They might even ask mutual friends what you’re really like! In other words, it’s not enough to say that you are amazing, your reputation and the impression you create needs to say the same thing. This is the same in the business world. Public relations is not just about creating awareness of your brand, it is also about conveying aspects of your business that you cannot always convey using other marketing tools. Tactics such as media relations and testimonials are all about someone else saying you are amazing which has far greater weight in giving you a great first impression and reputation.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Ultimately, a successful relationship (business or personal) is where there is adequate communication between both parties, and both parties should be finding the relationship beneficial.

Unless you received your relationship education from the likes of Jerry Springer, you should know that it’s about putting the other person first, deliberately adding value, making a conscious effort to always improve the relationship, and (I’ll say it again) communicating. This is what good PR is all about. So you see, PR is like a great relationship and worth celebrating this Valentine’s Day.