One of my biggest frustrations as a PR guy is the lack of relevant information for those of us that don’t have massive accounts like Dell or Microsoft. I think it’s great that Sony launched a Twitter game for ‘Terminator Salvation’ and that (Name of Huge Agency) landed (Name of Huge Company) for (Name of Upcoming Campaign). Every one of those stories has something to gleam off the top that we can all use. For instance, I didn’t even know you coul play games thru Twitter.com. Cool, I guess.
But does that really help me in my day to day life as PR guy at a firm specializing in small business?
I’m working with startups and small businesses who struggle every day just to keep their doors open.
I need information that helps me on THIS level of PR. My campaigns are much different – I’m just trying to get my client’s name out there.
My client doesn’t have the money to pull off massive events. They’re not paying some Web development company tons of money to develop a Twitter game. Most of them won’t even spend $400 to put a release on the wire.
And agencies signing big accounts? Great. Doesn’t help me much.
Theoretical thought pieces on the industry? Great stuff, but not helpful in serving my clients.
So for those of us looking to build a foundation through PR tactics, I’d like to do a few blogs on specific things small businesses and startup operations can do to get their name in front of their preferred audiences without pouring a boatload of money into it.
(I’ll post a blog later on which sites have good advice that can make you a better PR person at the exact moment you read them. This is a good example.)
I realize I’m far from a perfect PR guy, but I’ve worked for big companies and one-man operations, so I feel like I have something to contribute. I also strongly encourage you to share your thoughts and criticisms in the comments, or send me an email at email@example.com.
Today, I offer tip #1:
Know your Audience, Your Customers
This is fairly simple, and most businesses should have this figured out by the time they get to a stage to roll out PR.
By know your audience, I intend that you should have an idea who is the most likely consumer of your product or service, and a few things about those people: Where do they get their information? Are they TV watchers? Do they read the local newspaper? Are they online in social networks?
The best way to do this is to talk to your current customers. The Six Sigma types call it VOC (voice of the customer, natch), but you don’t even have to get all scientific the way they do.
The goal is to find out their stream of influence and insert yourself into that stream. It might be Twitter, the local news, friend’s recommendations (aka word of mouth), newspapers, magazines…and on and on.
What moves them to decisions? What moved them to your store or product? Chances are what moved them will move others as well.
Knowing where to direct your efforts is half the battle. If your audience doesn’t watch much TV, don’t spend much time pitching broadcast outlets. If you’re in a scientific field, your readers probably are into journals and peer-approved areas. Focus your efforts, because time is short and few outlets have the wide grasp of the Wall St. Journal.
Immerse yourself in their world. Learn the language and secret handshakes.
You should be talking to your customers regularly anyway, it’s good business. By becoming a part of their stream of influence, you broadcast the message you want them to see in their natural environs.
Knowing where to direct your efforts is the first and most important item you can learn. As we progress, I’ll talk about what to do next, finding opportunities, reaching new audiences and actual tactics you can use.
Again, jump in the comments and throw out your thoughts and criticisms if you feel compelled to.