As 2017 comes to an end many people will be looking forward to improvements and resolutions they can make in 2018. Whether personal or business related January is the month when people have a lot of drive to make changes for the better and we believe your small business PR strategy shouldn't be left behind.
Now is the perfect time to review your PR in 2017. What went well? What went wrong? How can you improve for 2018?
Below we’ve listed a few questions to ask yourself when assessing your PR to help you gain an understanding of what to do in the new year.
Did you have a PR plan?
PR is all about planning ahead, finding the best time to tell your story and being prepared to respond to the news as it happens. Therefore, if you didn’t have a plan you may have found yourself contacting journalists too late or missing out on the perfect editorial opportunity.
To make sure this doesn’t happen in 2018 you can create a PR calendar with upcoming dates. The calendar should include both public dates (i.e. Christmas Day) and dates personal to your business (i.e. a product launch). This can help you prepare your PR in advance giving you the ability to work backwards and figure out when you need to start preparing for that particular event.
For example, if you will be launching a new product perfect for Christmas Gift Guides then you need to decide which publications to pitch to and when you need to contact them in advance. Glossy magazines start planning Christmas content in July, therefore by July you need to already have a PR plan, high-res images and product information ready. However, if you want to target online publications then you don’t need to start planning your Christmas PR until November.
By creating a PR calendar you will be aware of when you need to start preparing for this, meaning you won’t miss the boat on your desired coverage.
Was PR part of your daily routine?
PR can easily be incorporated into your daily routine without taking up too much time. Yet many small business owners often avoid PR due to the misconception of it being too time-consuming when they have other priorities in the business.
If this has been your belief then 2018 is a great time to start doing small PR tasks every day. For example, journalists are always looking for small businesses to contribute to features and use the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter to share what they’re looking for. Searching this hashtag every day only takes a couple of minutes and you never know what you might find.
Many journalists from publications such as The Telegraph and The Guardian use the hashtag. Even this week JournoLink responded to a request and received coverage in Stylist magazine the next day. From finding the request and sending the initial email to answering the journalist's questions the process took no longer than an hour.
Furthermore, you can use online services which will send you editorial requests from journalists and bloggers directly to your inbox, meaning you can save time by not having to scroll through irrelevant requests on Twitter.
What was the outcome of your PR campaigns?
The aim of PR is to increase your brand awareness and drive sales by driving traffic to your website or customers to your store, therefore you need to review the impact PR has had on your business over the past year. Did you see a spike in website traffic after an interview was published? Did you see a rise in sales when an online gift guide went live?
If you haven’t seen a rise in traffic or sales then you may need to rethink which publications you’re targeting. With PR you need to pitch to the publications with the same target audience as your business. For example, if you own a local business meaning your target audience is residents in the immediate and surrounding areas then you need to target local/regional press. Although it may be very exciting to see your business covered in The Times, if it doesn’t target the right people it won’t have the desired effect.
If you’re struggling to find publications which meet your target audience simply ask existing customers what publication they read or how they found out about you.
Furthermore, if you had a very successful piece of coverage which created an increase in sales then it is important to keep a good relationship with that journalist and publication. Keep them informed about updates in your business, ask them to meet for a coffee and interact with them on social. This way they may come back to you for another feature they’re writing.
What did you like/dislike?
As with anything people often work harder for something they enjoyed doing and from which they saw positive outcomes, this is the same with PR. There are many different ways of gaining coverage for you business, therefore you need to decide what you enjoyed most from 2017.
Whether that was a radio interview or writing an opinion piece, if you enjoyed it and received a positive response you can then put your effort into gaining similar coverage in 2018. Whereas, if you didn’t enjoy being interviewed on the radio then you know to avoid these types of opportunities in the future.
In addition, if in 2017 you spent your time writing an opinion piece but your business saw little return then it may be best to try other forms of coverage rather than spending hours writing another one.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for you 2018 PR plan take a look at our previous blog posts How to create a PR strategy for your small business and Give your PR a Health Check this January.
Written By: Camilla Holroyd