I recently had a conversation about public relations with a potential new client who said his PR was handled by his marketing company since they know about "all that stuff." This is a confusing point for many business owners as well as solopreneurs. PR people, like their marketing counterparts, are quick to jump onto the "we do all that" bandwagon just to earn business.
Public relations is an important component of the overall marketing of a business or solo practice. Ideally, the disciplines should work together as part of an integrated program. But that's where the lines can get fuzzy. Many PR and marketing people would rather grab onto buzzwords like "branding" your business and impacting WOM (word of mouth), and "earned" versus "paid" media messages … it's enough to make your head spin!
Solopreneurs may think they are too small for public relations but in fact PR may do more for a small operation than you think. Public relations can position a solo practitioner as a thought leader through speaking opportunities, quotes in the press, social media, and community outreach. Each of these PR tactics carefully thought out and consistently developed can position a solopreneur as an expert in their field that will attract attention and lead to potential new business.
As a solopreneur, look at both PR and marketing to benefit your company. While marketing helps a company create, communicate, and deliver products and/or services that have value for customers, public relations focuses on building mutually beneficial relationships not only with customers but with other audiences that can positively impact the organization. By identifying key relationships (media, community, industry groups, etc.) and providing solid two-way communication, public relations will enhance your marketing effort by clarifying the company’s brand to targeted audiences.
A few tips when considering marketing and/or public relations help:
- Do look for a professional in these fields. Membership in local or national marketing or public relations organizations will tell you the individual or firm is serious about ethics and maintains industry standards.
- Don't assume that a marketing firm can provide you with actual public relations. They may have someone on staff who will write and mass distribute a press release for you but there's so much more an effective PR campaign can do for your business.
- Don't allow your sales efforts to control your social media presence. Not even your biggest fan wants to receive sales-driven information exclusively. They want to be engaged with your company, have interaction, and not just be on the receiving end.
- Do spend the time to find public relations support that can serve your business by helping you build relationships through communication.