Walk into most stores today and you will see Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations vying for space on store shelves. It’s become a race to the finish line as one year comes to an end and a new one is right around the corner.
For companies, it’s a reminder that it’s time to start budgeting for the next year. Regardless of whether you are a small business or a large corporation, if you want to continue to reach your intended target audience then adding PR and marketing to your budget is essential.
Where to begin?
In a world filled with digital media, the opportunities continue to evolve, you just need to start taking advantage of them. The two biggest complaints I hear from small business owners is “I don’t have a budget for that” or “I don’t have time to engage in social media or public relations opportunities.” My response: “You can’t afford not to set aside even a small portion of your time and budget.”
If you have not even begun social media and PR outreach efforts, then you are already losing out to the competition. Google your competition, take a look at what they are doing. Are they on LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? YouTube? Yelp? Do they have a blog? Is their website fresh and up-to-date, while yours was created years ago?
So many options, so little time
Yes, there are a ton of social media options available today and you can’t be on all of them (well, you can, but it’s best to start small if you are just getting started). Pick one or two and go from there.
It doesn’t cost a penny to set up a LinkedIn profile, yet there are many people who continue to resist. Or, they set it up and then never look at it again. For business professionals (attorneys, CPAs, entrepreneurs, really anyone in the business world) this is a one-stop-shop to network with other like-minded individuals. LinkedIn has 450 million users. Imagine how many rubber chicken dinners you would have to attend to reach that kind of an audience.
Did you know that Facebook has 1.71 billion users? And no, it doesn’t cost a dime to claim your Facebook business page. Once you set up a page, start posting AND responding. Take five to ten minutes out of your day to check out your page, post a photo, a link to an article, a special offer, something relevant to your followers, and make sure to respond to all comments – positive or negative. Engagement is critical to your success.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much a video is worth? There are more than 1 billion users on YouTube and everyday people watch hundreds of millions of hours generating billions of views. Today’s technology makes it incredibly easy to put together a quick video – it can be about a product you are selling, a service you offer, or even a quick interview of customers lauding whatever it is you have to offer.
The write stuff
Although the number of companies with a blog has grown exponentially in recent years, there are still many holdouts. You can write your own blogs, or have someone write them for you. Either way, blogs provide significant SEO benefits and organic search that attracts high-quality leads. They provide content for search engines to crawl and index. And don’t forget the images. Those blogs with images get 94 percent more total views.
Blogs are a great way to establish yourself as a subject matter expert. Once you start, don’t stop.
It’s all about relations, public relations
Many people have the false belief that public relations is expensive, and it can be. But it doesn’t have to be. Smaller firms (like mine) that don’t have significant overhead can provide PR services just as good, if not better, than larger firms. Smaller PR firms are more likely to give you more personalized attention because they handle fewer clients.
PR folks have the resources, the contacts and the experience in knowing what kinds of stories to pitch. It’s often easier for them to cut through the red tape and get through to reporters and editors willing to listen to a pitch. A solid public relations campaign should include the following:
Garton-Miller Media has a long-standing reputation for getting clients in the news. If you are thinking of adding public relations/social media to your 2017 budget, give us a call and let’s talk.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. In addition to public relations, she provides web content writing, press releases, social media, photography and videography. She has two daughters, three golden retrievers and two cats, but just one guinea pig who is happy not to have to share his cage or his daily stash of veggies with anyone.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.