What is PR? An introduction to small business public relations

As the owner of your small business, you likely wear many hats when it comes to the running of your brand. You’re probably the creative director, head of logistics and chief distributor all rolled into one. This also makes you your own PR manager. Congratulations!

Sadly, even a mention of public relations has many small business owners looking like this...

But it needn’t be this way.

The driving force behind The PR Pocketbook is to educate, support and empower small businesses through pocket-sized PR advice, so it only makes sense to start at the very top by asking: what is PR?

What is PR?

PR has long proved tricky to define: a quick google search will bring up thousands of definitions of PR, all of which mean broadly the same thing. PR stands for public relations, which is essentially the practice of cultivating a positive reputation and public image. It involves using many forms of media and communication to build, maintain and manage the reputation of a business or individual.

What about small business PR?

You can think of small business public relations as the strengthening of your brand's reputation with the stakeholders that matter most to you, namely, your customers. Small business PR is centred in your business’s values and is therefore what gives your business heart and humanity. Your mission, vision and values act as the foundation on which your PR activities will sit, influencing your communications strategies as well as the perceptions and opinions others have of your business.

PR utilises storytelling and other communications functions in order to connect people with your brand. How these stories are brought to life will vary from business to business, but one thing is for certain… Establishing these emotive connections with audiences is what helps to set businesses apart in an already competitive market, and nothing achieves this vital relationship building like PR.

What counts as PR?

One of the reasons that PR is so hard to define is that so many functions lie within it. You can consider PR as an umbrella term for anything that generates organic engagement and builds brand awareness. This includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Content marketing

  • Crisis management

  • Influencer marketing

  • Media relations

  • Email marketing

  • Events management

  • Social media marketing

PR is your friend

Think of PR as a cheerleader for your business: always there, singing your praises and authentically influencing the opinions of others, on an emotive level. The truth is that PR will ‘happen’ whether you are consciously investing in it or not, so it’s best to take matters into your own hands and actively control your own narrative. PR should be a central part of a business’s overall marketing strategy, and I’m here – with this blog – to help make that happen.

I hope this has helped to clear up what PR actually is from a small business perspective. I firmly believe that PR doesn’t have to be this ‘great unknown’ or a source of stress for small business owners. With this platform, I hope to begin repositioning PR as something that small business owners will embrace, rather than avoid, and this all begins with a firm understanding of PR.

In my following blogs, I’ll explore what PR can help achieve for your business (i.e. why you should bother!) and how you can begin to implement PR into your existing marketing strategy, so stay tuned!

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