PR and Social Media are both critical components of the marketing plan of all small businesses. They are both looking for independent people to make comments about your business, and as a result, help you to increase sales.

There is good evidence now that consumers believe adverts less and less, and they look to ‘reviews’ from other people before they buy products and services.

So positive ‘likes’ on Facebook are as important as adverts, and similarly  ‘shares’ on Instagram, and ‘re-tweets’ on Twitter.  But social media only reaches those people who are specifically ‘following’ or ‘watching’ you. They are already a captive audience and brand followers. And the ‘likes’,  ‘shares’ and ‘re-tweets’ are generally from the same group of close acquaintances.

PR, on the other hand, reaches out to a hugely wider audience and carries much more value in terms of influencing consumers as the comments and ‘reviews’ come from writers who have greater credibility and trust.  On the whole, people absolutely believe what a journalist says, and will buy on their recommendations. So achieving good press coverage with good PR is the most valuable form of advertising, and whilst it sits alongside social media and traditional advertising in the overall marketing plan it should be positioned as a priority.

The reason that small businesses tend to miss out on PR is that they see it as a bit of a dark art, and potentially expensive, as opposed to social media, which, particularly for younger generation businesses, is fashionable and cheap.

But PR doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive.  It is as easy to use as any social media platform and can be as affordable. Literally, every business, however small, should look to make full use of media cover opportunities.

The keys to successful PR are simple;

  • Having something to say that others will find valuable to read
  • At the right time
  • Accessing a journalist to write about it

Which makes a lot of sense, and does highlight why PR is often much more successful than social media in driving sales, as social media tends not to be as well thought through and structures.

But it does leave a business owner having to plan a little, and often needing some help to get the story, the timing and the target audience right. 

PR agencies do that but are often way beyond a small business budget.

There are however some online platforms that help with the thinking and planning, and the doing as well, for very little money, and even potentially with no cost at all.

It’s really easy to ignore PR. Just as easy as it is for consumers to ignore your business….especially if they don’t know about it!

Article by Peter Ibbetson of JournoLink.

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