It’s not good enough to be the best at what you do – you have to let people know it.
PR is a good way to achieve this and is accessible to businesses of all sizes, as Robert Zarywacz explains.
Big business often have big budgets to spend on marketing departments and PR agencies.
How can smaller businesses compete?
Big does not always mean better. Leaner organisations can often respond more effectively.
When big isn’t always best
Trying to get a comment out of a big company for a press article can be difficult. How many times have you read in newspapers statements such as “we contacted the company for a comment, but no one was available”? It’s not always because they don’t want to comment.
Sometimes a local manager is desperate to get some PR, but has to refer back to their line manager, who reports back to head office, possibly on another continent, who then refer on to a PR agency. Staff on the ground can be petrified. It’s all right for them to say what they want to an individual, but they can’t possibly be trusted to talk to the press.
All that budget, all those people, all those resources and no coverage.
Lean businesses able to respond fast can get the coverage lost by lumbering, inflexible corporations.
This is an opportunity small businesses can pick up on.
Flexibility gets results
For a journalist, there’s nothing better than when someone responds to an email or answers their phone and is ready to talk, especially when they’ve got to meet a tight deadline.
They could ask anyone to comment, but they’re asking you.
Surely, anyone would take the opportunity to get some free exposure? No, many can’t be bothered.
How many column inches can your comment fill? What would it cost you to buy an advert that size? You’re getting it for free.
And a comment confirms your authority in your specific field. If you’ve hundreds or thousands of competitors, this gives you an advantage over them. You can even link your web site to an online article or tweet it, so you can integrate it into your digital marketing and social media.
What’s the catch?
It’ll cost you a bit of time. If you’re prepared, maybe five or 10 minutes. If it needs more thought, perhaps a bit longer.
Definitely a price worth paying for exposure and building a relationship with the press.
What to do when you get the call?
Keep calm and comment!
You’re probably not going to talk about anything you wouldn’t discuss with a customer or supplier. If the thought of talking to the press or media unsettles you, remember that you’ll be talking about what you know best: your business.
Here’s a few suggestions to help:
- Double check precisely what the topic is and whether you feel comfortable commenting. If you know your topic, be bold. If you don’t know much about the topic, it could be wise to decline.
- Check the deadline. If you are prepared to talk there and then, go ahead. If there is time to spare and you need to prepare, ask if you can set a time in half an hour or later in the day.
- Make sure you are available for comment if this has been scheduled for a specific time. Letting a journalist down is not a good idea.
- If it’s a broadcast interview, a landline is usually better for quality and you need to ensure you speak from a quiet room with no interruptions from people or equipment. Set all devices to quiet or, better, turn them off. Close the door and leave the dog outside – they usually discover a squeaky toy or start chewing a bone during interviews.
- Ask what the angle will be and the type of question you will be asked so you can check any facts or references you want to quote.
- If you have time to prepare, jot down, on an A4 piece of paper, bullets of all the points you want to make, any references and your business details including web address. Be prepared to slip in your contact details where you can.
- Enjoy your interview. Draw on your enthusiasm and energy to project your personality.
Take the opportunity
So take the opportunity whenever you can. If journalists know they can depend on you to give an interesting comment, they will call you again, even though you don’t have a big marketing department or pay a PR agency.