A solopreneur faces several major obstacles on their path to business success. Not the least of these challenges is the shifting sands of the public relations world. A single business owner already runs all functions of his or her enterprise, and adding the PR hat to that wardrobe is difficult. That said, managing public relations doesn’t need to be a challenge, and solopreneurs are just as capable of running their PR as any other business.
What is Public Relations?
PR is not advertising. The two may appear similar to outsiders, but their content and function could not be more different.
Public relations serves to drum up credibility for a business, without resorting to direct marketing. Advertising, on the other hand, is less about establishing a good rapport with the public as much as it is about making the public awareness of a company in the first place. An ad is about selling; public relations is about enhancing.
Small businesses might look at this dichotomy and think that advertising is all they need to focus on – nobody knows they exist, after all, so what value does PR add to their company?
The reality is that public relations is also a form of marketing – but rather than relying on a plea for attention, it builds legitimacy through well-regarded channels. A good shorthand is that advertising is something like a commercial or the traditional ads in newspapers. PR material, on the other hand, is news like any other – even if the end goal is to draw in customers.
When Should a Business Use PR?
The most important step is to have something to share. It’s not enough to put out a press release if that release is void of any interesting or valuable content. Your company may have just released a new patch for its proprietary software, or you’ve started selling a new type of widget. This is newsworthy. General status updates are not.
Don’t be intimidated because your business is small either. An interesting piece or news article is sufficient, even if you’re the head of a three-person team.
How to Take Hold of Your Public Relations
It may sound surprising, but journalists agree – cold pitches work, but need some special attention to get picked up. First, you should address a specific individual for every pitch, even if you’re working from a template to send to multiple publications. Ignoring the personal when it comes to pitches means you may send a food journalist a release about your new line of grills.
As a solopreneur, your pitches and releases won’t be the same as those of a huge firm with established PR departments. But if you show flexibility with news sites and journalists, as well as a personable demeanor, you are one step closer to successfully managing your PR.
Don’t sweat if your initial contacts don’t work out. Sometimes it’s a matter of journalists being busy people. Other times you may have contacted the wrong person altogether. Either way, your best hope at success comes from follow-up and flexibility.