Expertise 8 Public Relations Tips For Small Businesses

If you weren’t able to make it to the public relations panel session at the 2015 Roanoke Regional Chamber Business Summit, you’re in luck! Beth Klinefelter, Firefli’s Social Media & Public Relations Specialist, was part of the panel and shares her tips for small businesses in three categories below.

PR Professionals at the Roanoke Regional Chamber's Business Summit

Online/Digital Content

  • Use content calendars to plan ahead. Create content and editorial calendars to plan out content ahead of time for your channels (website/blog and social channels) to keep them up-to-date with fresh content and consistent messaging.
  • Public relations and SEO need to work together. Combine your public relations with your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts to produce relevant quality content to help your website appear higher in Google search results. Focus your blog content and news releases on keywords identified by your SEO team. Working closely with your SEO team will help you set measurable campaign objectives and track/analyze your campaign results.

Crisis Communications/Media Relations

  • Transparency and honesty will always win. The story and the facts will always come out; it’s just a matter of when. Customers and the public don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be honest. When you’re transparent during a crisis situation, it can actually help you gain trust in the long run.
  • Research your local media contacts. Take the time to research the top five media contacts in your area that cover your beat and reach out to them to introduce yourself and your company. Ask them about how they like to receive news and what the best way is to contact them. Establish these relationships before working with them on any type of story.
  • Read your industry publications. Take the time to read the publications you want news coverage in or the stories written by the reporters you want to receive news coverage from. This will help you understand what they consider news and the story angles they are looking for. The next time you have a story idea, you’ll be able to think about it through their lens and will be able to pitch it and communicate with them more effectively.

Social Media

  • Prepare your responses ahead of time. Customers turn to Facebook and Twitter to ask questions and engage with brands and expect to receive a response in a timely manner. To be able to respond to your customers in a timely manner, prepare a response matrix that lists your top 10-20 FAQs and your carefully crafted responses to them. Also, identify your top 10 customer complaints/issues and how you want to respond to them. For complaints, you will want to direct the customer to the right person to handle the situation with an email or phone number to take the conversation offline. With a response matrix in place, your responses will be timely and consistent. When used correctly, social media tools turn into your best customer service tools.
  • Your website and social channels serve different purposes. Give your customers a reason to follow and engage with you on your social channels. Hold contests, share discount codes/coupons, post behind-the-scene short videos or photos and show your personality. Based on Facebook’s algorithms, when someone engages with your content, your updates will start showing up in their newsfeed.
  • Focus on a few social channels and do them very well. Figure out what social channels your target audience is using and focus your efforts on those one to two channels. It’s better to do one to two channels well, rather than spreading yourself too thin across every social channel out there.

Pictured above from left to right:
– Taylor Ricotta – Public Relations & Visitor Services Coordinator, Roanoke Valley
– Michael Quonce – Public Relations & Advertising Manager, The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center
– J.D. Sutphin – President, Big Lick Entertainment
– Chris Turnbull – Senior Consultant, Public Relations & Corporate Communications, Carilion Clinic
– Beth Klinefelter – Social Media & Public Relations Specialist, Firefli