PR on a Budget - 10 Top Tips for SMEs
Often SMEs worry that they can’t compete with the big players in their field because of budget constraints.
However, if your product is right and you target the right audience, there is no reason why you cannot get involved too.
PR is a great way to get your brand noticed in all the right places and you don’t need a huge budget to get started – but it’s important to focus on establishing trust to grow your brand and reputation. PR is officially ‘public’ relations, although it’s often seen as limited to media relations. Think the big picture to get PR to work for you.
Here are our top tips for making that budget go further:
1. Understand your target demographic and audience
Identify your ideal customer and put yourself in their shoes. What do they read? With this, you’ll know which press to target. What are the challenges they face? (So you know what you can do to help solve them). Is there another product you could develop that solves another of their challenges?
Understanding your target customer is critical if you want to get their attention – do what you have to do to achieve that. I practice what I preach - my first PR assignment saw me getting up at stupid o’clock to go on a milk round – you can read about it here: https://www.prinhr.co.uk/kay-phelps-my-story
Putting your target customer at the heart of all you do is not just good PR – it’s good business.
2. Project professionalism
You may be a small company but your customer doesn’t have to know that. Exude professionalism at every point, be consistent in your standards and you’ll build a good reputation that will grow with your brand.
3. Don’t skimp on building brand assets
Your logo, signage, literature and even your email footer all deliver opportunities to reinforce your brand. They are key to projecting your brand image and building customer confidence, so don’t be tempted to DIY – engage a reputable graphic designer. A consistent, professional image is worth paying for.
4. Find your company voice – and train them if needed
Identify your best ‘media spokesperson’. Should it be you? Ask yourself honestly, would others in the business be a better fit? The right person will know about customer issues and your services, be confident, wise and empathetic when talking publicly. Let them give advice and opinions about issues and pains customers are feeling. They’ll enhance their reputations and become trusted and well-known, reflecting highly on the business. Media training can be a good shout.
5. Build relationships, don’t just sell
Whether talking to the media or your customers, don’t just think about plugging your product. Nobody wants a one-way conversation. Be helpful, supportive and aim to add value to your audience, whether that's information, education or entertainment. Get the audience's attention - sales and more coverage will take care of themselves.
6. Ask for testimonials and case studies
There’s no better PR than a happy customer who thinks your service is fantastic. If customers are happy, ask if they’re happy for you to do a case study – and publish testimonials and quotes on your website.
7. Don’t be afraid to consult an expert
It naturally takes time to build relationships with the media, especially in niche markets like HR, employee benefits and others with a keen interest in the workplace. The right PR expert will have these already, and can secure coverage in publications you couldn’t even think about affording to advertise in.
Even a small amount of time each month means someone is keeping an ear to the ground to find opportunities and ensure your news is heard.
8. Enter awards
Almost every awards ceremony out there will get lots of publicity – and award winners are seen as offering best practice. Awards success, therefore, makes for great PR. However, your application needs to stand out from the crowd. Consider getting some awards training** – then apply as there will be lots of programmes and categories right for your work. (** link to Awards training)
9. Don’t neglect social media
Even if you are B2B, your customers are people outside work, so make sure you have some presence on all the major networks. Social means sociable, so don’t just sell, use your social media to support, encourage, uplift and educate your customers, and make new contacts. Its direct PR and one-on-one interaction – keep it fun, focused and professional.
10. Pick up tips from the Pros.
If you can’t afford a PR expert right now, you can still learn from them - free. PR people often share golden nuggets of insider knowledge on Twitter, LinkedIn and on their blogs (***link to your blogs). Find someone you’d engage if you could afford to, follow and learn from them – when you are ready to engage them, you’ll feel you know them already!
Using a PR professional often costs less than CEOs imagine, and finding a specialist in your target demographic or sector can pay dividends. If you'd like a no-strings-attached chat to see how it could work for you, get in touch!