PR for small and medium businesses
Ukrtelecom spokesperson, PR program teacher, CIM, CIPR certified specialist.
Is it worth promoting your own business?
Imagine that you are the owner of several restaurants located near the ethnic quarter of a big city. Unfortunately, there are riots in the streets and thousands of people are smashing everything around. Only your institutions remain intact. That was the story of McDonald’s in the second half of the ХХ century. Why weren't they damaged? Because these restaurants belonged to local businessmen, they employed and fed the locals. They were protected by the reputation of "their". So, if we want to be a successful business in the future, we should take care of our reputation or do PR.
Reputation is the answer to the question of what PR does. PR is like establishing a friendly relationship with all groups of people who are in one way or another in contact with your business. Neighbours and customers, regulators and competitors, employees and antagonists — you can establish a relationship with each group that will not allow actions to get out of control. And reputation is the result of what we do, what we tell society and what society says about us.
The dream of increasing sales, which we often imagine as a result of successful PR campaigns, is a completely different story from another discipline — marketing, which combines product and price, promotion (including advertising) and place of service, and of course same employees. This is a very interesting topic, which is worth both a long study and constant practice.
With your permission, we will return to public relations. And I will allow myself to offer you some aspects that are worth paying attention to.
- Reputation: regardless of whether there is a publicist in your business or not, your actions, your words and your reaction, the assessment of society - already create a reputation for you. The head and owner of the company are very powerful PR people, employees also contribute significant power to the formation of reputation. So, you and your business already have a reputation. Another important point is that reputation does not exist in the air — it is associated with a certain audience — a group of people united by a common assessment of your actions and common interests in your business. There may be 3-5 such important audiences in your business (for example, employees, customers, a neighbouring business that may not be a competitor, but with which you share a common trading area, and neighbours who see your business from the rear every day).
- PR administration. In short. First, hire a marketer who will build a working mix of promotion (advertising, promos, promotions, etc.), and only then think about separating the PR function. Prior to that, PR was the work of the director or owner.
- How to start. This is the hardest part. We select audiences (groups of people) that we consider important or influential for our business. Not only in terms of sales, but in general the entire operational process - from renting a room to garbage collection. There may be several dozen such groups. You need to choose the key ones, prioritizing them according to the criteria of their own desire and ability to influence you. There should be about 5 groups left. It is in these groups that we will promote ourselves.
- Situation analysis. In each of the groups, we already have a certain reputation. For example, in the chat of a local condominium, we are a noisy neighbour, to whom the delivery of products comes in the morning, and on the Facebook page of our business we are a delicious cafe with affordable prices, but a limited range. Note that in the digital world in which we already live, it is very difficult to separate the public from the channel of access to it, and very often a fragment of a social network or group in the messenger is both the public and the channel of communication with it. So, in each such audience, we evaluate who we are there.
- What we want or consider appropriate to change. If we remain forever only a troubled neighbour, wait for us to complain and problems. Therefore, it is necessary to look for a new target reputation, for example, a polite neighbour who sells delicious coffee and shares wi-if near the tables, as it is connected to the optical Internet from Ukrtelecom. It is good to formulate this as an exact goal. For example, in a group instead of 5 negative responses a week I want to receive 2 positive and in a month of work.
- How will we change our reputation? And this is a plan of real action, investment of resources, stories about actions in the channels of communication with the audience and a careful analysis of what the audience says when confronted with your actions. The key to choosing actions and words is to understand what your audience needs and how they communicate.
- Analysis of results — correction of selected audiences, actions, communication.
This is a systematic PR work every day. But there are also crises. Something has happened and you are causing significant damage to your audiences. The reaction should be quick: we explain how we assess the situation, express the relevant emotion, not admitting our guilt (before the court decision), but showing a real desire to take part in eliminating the consequences of the problem. We tell and preferably show what we are doing right now to overcome the problem and explain what we will do to prevent this in the future. We keep in touch with people.