The importance of PR to the small business owner

A positive PR campaign can boost the reputation and the bottom line of any small business, writes Phoebe Parlade.

If you are a small business owner, you don't have the same resources that larger companies have to market their goods and services. However, this doesn't mean that you should ignore the impact of a positive public relations campaign.

Generating goodwill in the community requires little money, and it can generate returns far larger than what was spent. Understanding and assembling a successful PR campaign can be tricky, but there are some excellent practical guides out there that can show you the ropes.

You want people talking about your brand

Broadly speaking, you have two main goals when running a public relations campaign. The first is to get people talking about the campaign. For instance, if you are sponsoring a charity event or donating money to a local cause, you want your efforts to be made visible to the public. Second, you want people to talk about your brand as one that seeks to make the community a better place. This will increase interest in your products or services, leading to more customers – and more sales.

Word of mouth doesn’t cost anything

When customers refer your company to their friends or colleagues, you may be able to acquire a new customer without spending a penny. This means you can put your marketing budget to good use on other advertising methods or reinvest that money some other way, e.g. employee salaries. If someone comes to your physical or online store with a positive opinion of your brand, that person is more likely to buy and to spend more per transaction.

Your reputation is your main selling point

If you own a roofing company or a hardware store, the majority of the public may not know who you are. Therefore, you need to develop relationships with your customers to assure them that you offer the best service and selection at reasonable prices. You also want to assure them that you offer quality, durable products or services. If people doubt your credibility in any way, it could turn them off and mean a lack of business for no other reason than a poor perception of what you do.

Your prices may be higher than the competition

You may need to charge a higher price for goods or services because of higher overhead costs. If that’s the case, you’ll need to convince people to buy your products even though they may be cheaper at the big box store. If you have a good reputation for quality and service, your customers will choose to spend more for a better product compared to paying less for something that may need to be replaced constantly.

For small businesses, having the public on their side is important to growing revenues and becoming viable over the long-term. While a small business may lack the money and name recognition that bigger competitors may have, a good PR campaign can overcome those issues. When done properly, engaging in public relations can turn even the smallest company into a profitable, successful and sustainable one.

Thanks to Phoebe Parlade for this week’s guest blog. Phoebe writes for TechFunction, a magazine focussed on tech news and strategies for the small business owner

Topics: Blog, small business, sme, PR, public relations

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