The biggest problem that most small business owners have with PR is that they don’t fully understand the process or how it can help build their business or establish their brand. Most think that public relations is only for large corporations or those in the entertainment world and that it has to do with stunts and smoke and mirrors. None of those perceptions are correct. PR is a multi pronged process that includes traditional media, an online presence including blogs, sites and social media, byline articles, public speaking and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. PR can and should be utilized by entrepreneurs, authors, contractors, service providers, business professionals such as physicians and attorneys, home workers, as well as any and all small businesses.

It is inexpensive compared to other forms of marketing and the only marketing avenue that can offer you and your business credibility and validation and position you as a go-to expert in your field. Although effective media relations is an art, it need not be mysterious. It is in essence the art of effective storytelling. Sounds strange, but it’s true. It is a way of communicating to the media and the public that is compelling, accurate, and valuable. Defining your story and your message is the first and probably most important step in any campaign. Whether you’re a veterinarian, florist, restaurateur or hair stylist, you need a clear effective story that is interesting to the media and to the public as a whole. This is where many companies make their biggest PR mistake, they develop stories that are of interest to them, but not necessarily stories that interest the media. Most business owners go with the obvious story, which is telling the basics about the service they offer or the product they sell. That is an important part of any story but very rarely is that enough in and of itself. Your story is how your product or service transforms the lives of your customers, clients or patients. Keep that in mind when developing your media pitches and you’ll generally remain on course.

The Small Business PR How-to Guide:
Once you’ve defined your story, you need to define your core audience and then your secondary audiences. Your story needs to speak to and resonate with them. The next step is to define the media outlets that communicate with your various audiences. You can have the best story in the world, but if you pitch it to the wrong media, it’s not going to get you far. For example if you’re selling a revolutionary skin cream, pitching that story to Maxim or Spike TV most likely won’t get you very far, whereas pitching Allure, Vogue, Marie Claire and the beauty trades could be the ticket that establishes your brand and sells your product.

Once you’ve defined your story, message and defined your target market, you’re ready to move forward with your campaign. Defining your target market is important, but don’t simply think of your overall audience as your customers or prospects, think in broader terms. Your audience can include the local media, your neighbors and surrounding community, vendors/suppliers and anyone who would in any way have a connection to the story you’re telling. For example, someone who sees a TV segment might not have any particular connection to the story, but could know someone else who does and pass the information on. Always remember, audiences—target market or not--have the power to communicate information about you.

Focus on what you know. What is your expertise? What do you know, offer, produce, provide, market, or understand or do better than anyone else? Position yourself as an educator. Your information might seem obvious to you, but to those outside of your field it could be valuable information, or simply an interesting story.

Through PR you reach your target market, separate yourself from the competition, establish yourself as an expert in your field and gain the validation and credibility of being featured as a news story. So why should entrepreneurs and small business owners use PR? Because it can build your business and establish your brand. Because it works!

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011

Author's Bio: 

Anthony Mora Communications, Inc. is a Los Angeles-based public relations company that has placed clients in: Time, Newsweek, 60 Minutes, CNN, USA Today, Oprah,The New York Times, Vogue, and other media. Anthony has been featured in: USA Today, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The BBC, CNN, Fox News, and other media outlets.