Public Relations is Still Best Tool in Bad Economy

The new jobs report is out and non-farm payrolls featured another 54,000 layoffs and the unemployment rate is now 9.6%.  Talk about a perfect lead-in to the Labor Day Weekend. As companies continue to tighten their belts, especially small business owners, one tool that can help them sustain and grow their businesses is public relations.  Sure, it’s essential for a business owner to step back and conserve cash flow in times of economic distress. However, not taking advantage of engagement with the customer through the many tactical elements of public relations is foolish and can lead to further business losses. The time to use the power of public relations is now.

If you are a small business owner with a restaurant, store or online sales site, you cannot wait for the customer to come to you and learn about your specialty. You have to directly reach out to them.

The tools are there.  Build relationships with your community newspapers by targeting newsworthy press releases about current issues that may affect your business and/or serving as a resource for media covering topics that concern your industry.

Make sure you know your customers and stay in front of them, using them as your brand ambassadors in the community.  Whether it’s developing a newsletter, sending updates to your customers through email or using Facebook and Twitter to provide updates on your business, if you’re not doing it, you can be that your competitors are.

Many small business owners confuse advertising with public relations.  They equate an advertisement in their local newspaper or on cable television as public relations.  That is not the case. Through public relations, businesses earn their way into the media.  This third-party endorsement by a media entity through a story about your business, television feature or quotes from you the owner as an expert, validates a company in the eyes of consumers. Your business becomes more credible in the eyes of a consumer.

There are multiple ways for a small business to garner media exposure. One way is by sponsoring a seminar for the public. This helps position you, the owner as an expert in your field and showcases your business.  Financial planners, tax experts, wedding planners, authors, etc. are examples of businesses that use this tactic successfully.

Another tactic is the press release.  This must provide news.  Media will not use it unless there is a news hook.  Thus, businesses looking to write a press release should first look at what message they plan to deliver with the release.  Is it announcing a new hire, a new product or event? If so, that’s an example of news.  If it’s just tooting your horn that you’re open for business, then you need to craft that into an advertisement.

Read and watch what your local television news outlets are covering. Often there are consumer reporters at these outlets.  This can be an opportunity to serve as an expert in your business category.  Also, most markets have morning news programs.  These shows are always looking for guests that can speak to trends, new products, seasonal issues, etc.  For example, iMedia represents the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors and has been positioning the backpack safety tips they developed as news hooks for local television, radio and print interviews in the region, offering local chiropractors to speak to the subject of protecting children from the stress of carrying too much weight in their backpacks.

Public relations can deliver your message across multiple platforms and provide tremendous value and ROI for your business.  Don’t forsake this opportunity in times of economic troubles. Instead, use public relations as the tool to get you through the crisis and help your business grow.

Tom Cosentino

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One Response to “Public Relations is Still Best Tool in Bad Economy”

  1. In the world of public relations, I guess we have to let the romans know what to do!

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