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How to use PR to grow your business

From Cherish PR, part of The Wilful Group.


 

Let’s face it, PR is valuable.


At its very heart is the craft and creation of a great story centred on your business, told through a recognisable media outlet and by a credible journalist. A great story can open doors to new clients and customers, start conversations with investors, introduce new partnerships or just set your business apart from the status quo.


There’s no doubt that if you ask many of the world’s leading founders, they’d say that good PR had a major part to play in the rise of their business.


But where do you start? Here are our five tips on how to use PR to grow your business


1. Craft your stories


People are not walking ads. In communications, there is a “fair exchange''. In other words, you tell me something interesting and I listen and engage. It’s the principle of all good PR. After all, everyone loves stories. Customers will want to know the story behind your business if it’s relevant, interesting and well told.


So think about how you are going to tell the story of your business. Why is it different or innovative? How did you come up with the idea? What is the problem you decided to solve? Have I heard it before or is there something really new and unique here?


2. Shepherd not control


You can’t control what people are saying about your business, but you can help to steer the conversation.


As you develop your stories, test them out on your friends and family and listen to what people pick up on as that will start to tell you what’s interesting to them. Develop these as cues to what your audience will find interesting. Evolve.


And don't be afraid of criticism. Embrace it and use it to refine your argument, address and adjust your messaging.


In this way, you’ll be the first to hear the news and set the tone.



3. Become a trusted expert


You know your onions! You’re starting a business in something you love and / or something you’re good at. So don't be afraid of your own knowledge, your own opinions because they’re based on real experience. You're an expert.


Think about your own experience and expertise and build a bio for yourself, full of reasons why you’re amazing at what you do. Think about the challenges and issues in your market and have an opinion on them.


Then look for opportunities to put your point of view across. This could be reactive newsjacking and spotting opportunities to have your say to the media. Perhaps it’s setting up webinars, speaking at events or creating new products or services that address the market opportunity and then using this to engage the media to write about your business. .



4. Build relationships


A great PR strategy relies on strong relationships with journalists and influencers in your industry. Research and identify the key media, journalists and influencers and start building relationships with them and growing your own network.


Read what they’re writing about and engage them in conversations. Go back to your stories and tell them. Make it worthwhile for them to get to know you by understanding what they’re looking for. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s easier now than ever before to find who and how you should connect.


5. Keep it up and be consistent


In the age of social media where you can go viral in a blink of an eye, it’s easy to start believing that success should happen overnight. Even the best PR campaigns seldom produce results overnight. Realistically, you should be mapping at least a six-month to one-year plan which includes news, proactive, storytelling, event opportunities and lots and lots of relationship building.


Good brand awareness is a marathon not a sprint. Align it with your other sales and marketing techniques - digital advertising, PPC and Adwords, on site content and social media - and keep it going. If you don't have time or the thought of PR fills you with dread, hire an expert. If you’re just starting out, a freelancer may be a good option? Alternatively, if you have the budgets and big growth targets, work alongside a PR agency which can fire on all cylinders. However, look for a strategic PR partner who has the right experience to help you to craft and define your story, and stay top of mind with the key media.