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Integrating Public Relations Into Your Small Business Marketing Plan

  |  May 10, 2012   |  Comments

Launching a public relations effort with an online marketing effort is no longer out of reach for small businesses.

Small businesses have to watch every dime and resource when it comes to their marketing dollars. That's why a lot of times public relations is the furthest thing from their mind. In the past, small businesses have been mistakenly led to believe that any sort of public relations effort would require big agencies and big fees and was usually something they couldn't afford.

With today's world of ever-increasing connectivity and ease of communication, launching a public relations effort with an online marketing effort is no longer out of reach for small businesses. It does take time and a bit of resources, but you don't need to deploy an army of public relations agents to get noticed, especially with social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter at your disposal.

Create an "Inventory" of Your Business Events

Every business deals with certain "seasons" and special events throughout the year. Whether it's special sales, prepping for a certain time of the year, or even marking events in your business history, these events are important news to share with your network of customers, fans, and friends. Making a list of these events can help you create a marketing plan and include public relations efforts to help promote them. You may take these types of events for granted because to you they "always" happen, but to your network who isn't as deeply involved in your world, your news, advice, or content could be valuable information they would like to share.

Don't Lump All You Do Into One Press Release

Avoid the temptation of writing a press release that includes all the events your company has planned. Instead of lumping them all together, break them out and figure out what makes each event so special that they are an event on your calendar. Figure out why people should care and how they will find your event of value to their lives. By breaking each event out you will have a steady source of news to connect with your network and a reason to keep them coming back for more.

Create a Press Release Schedule

In order to keep things consistent, creating a schedule for your press releases is a good idea. It helps you plan and allocate your resources accordingly as well. By putting a schedule in place, your team will know what to plan for and what to engage your networks in conversation about. They will be able to focus on different ways to make your press release or press event valuable to the right audiences rather than spinning their wheels trying to market the release to the masses.

Creating a schedule will also go a long way in ensuring you do have that steady stream of valuable content going out to your networks. When scheduling which releases happen when, you can also match up current news, trends, and topics with your own even as they are happening within the same time frame. Being able to do this can be invaluable in giving a reason for your networks to find value in your news.

Create a List of Contacts and Engage With Them Personally

Just sending your press release out to a list of people you know doesn't get you anywhere anymore. People need a reason to care, and when they have an established relationship with you they tend to care and share your news with their networks.

From memberships in local chamber groups to your most loyal customers, create a list of contacts within your networks. Segment them as to their type and make sure to start engaging with them before you get ready to launch your public relations efforts. This way when you are ready to let your press release go live to the world, you can engage with your networks in a way they understand - i.e., talking to your business contacts in a manner they understand as opposed to your customers who are connected with you for an entirely different reason. When you have established your relationships in your networks, your contacts are going to care more about what you are saying.

Cross-Post in Social Communities

Don't just put your press release or news out on the news wires; get it out to all of your social media networks and communities. Shout it from the rooftops! Most customers aren't looking at sites like PRWeb or PR Newswire for their news; they are looking to Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest for news that is valuable to them. That's why cross-posting into the communities you are involved with is vital.

As people move away from the traditional ways of getting their news such as newspapers, radio, and TV and they start looking to blogs, social networks, and online video (both segments and streaming), it's important to broaden your reach by joining in the social communities your audiences find most valuable. Making sure your profiles are active, up to date, and engaged with the audience is key to making sure your public relations efforts reach well beyond what use to be "traditional."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liana Evans

Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.

Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.

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