7 ESSENTIAL TIPS ON MAXIMISING PR ON A MINISCULE BUDGET
By Maruschka Loupis, one of our Commtractors. Maruschka is a self-professed ‘Pollyanna’, who, in her mission to ‘save the world’, has worked to improve the profile and income of a variety of not-for profits and charities over the years with great success.
Promotions for not-for-profit or public organisations don’t have to be cheap and nasty, even if there is virtually no budget to speak of. Thinking smart, communicating well and utilising goodwill can often have a greater positive impact than the slickest of advertising campaigns.
1. Don’t under-value local media. Local community newspapers can be a great source of regular, vibrant good news stories. They exist for the community and are therefore generally pre-disposed to covering your community-positive story, especially if there is a colourful photo opportunity attached to it.
Submitting a well-written, short and sharp press release will increase your chances of being published by 50%.
Sending your own quality photo in support of the story will raise your chances by at least 25%. It is arrogant to assume that the paper will drop everything to cover your story every time – but you can expect to appear in print if you do everything possible to have a print-ready story ready for them, including the image.
And don’t forget: every household and business in your area receives at least one local paper, generally at least once a week. With enough positive media coverage, many small businesses can dispense with printed advertising material altogether.
2. Cultivate powerful visuals. A single great photograph can generate more interest and more business than the snazziest graphics or ads. A great picture will tell the whole story in one glance.
Photograph everything (well), including events, launches, products or services (in use), happy customers and staff. Practice makes perfect.
Get a good camera or camera app on your phone, set it on the highest resolution, and keep going until you’ve built a brilliant suite of images for use in all your promotional tools.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of Word of Mouth. Happy customers are your greatest asset. Unfortunately, a single bad experience can have ‘legs’ which run forever, whereas good news has a habit of trickling down slowly – it’s not nearly as much fun to spread! Actively encourage happy customers to tell others. And …
4. Actively collect testimonials and endorsements. If a customer shares their positive experience with you, ask their permission to utilise the praise in your newsletters, website and other promotional materials. This is advocacy for your product or service in its purest form.
5. Remember the power of your ‘internal’ audience. Are your staff the last to hear about your organisation’s developments, successes, problems etc.? That does not make for happy campers. Your staff can be your greatest promoters and supporters, even outside of the business environment. Just like customer advocates, a happy staffer is a powerful PR resource. Speak to them. Keep them in the loop. Ask their opinions. Nurture them. They will spread good vibes in the most subtle of ways and support you during crises.
6. Don’t assume you know who’s listening…or even who isn’t. Your social posts, newsletters, media releases, mailings, flyers and even web postings may end up in hands quite different to those who you thought you were targeting. So be inclusive, informative and always use simple, plain English.
7. Acknowledge that good PR takes time. You are building relationships and while love at first sight can happen for some, your other potential customers will usually need more attention, more nurturing, more (valuable and succinct) communication. Don’t lose confidence in good initiatives if they don’t seem to be having a huge immediate impact. And don’t forget to keep the ‘romance’ alive in your business relationships. A valued customer is a happy customer.