Eight things PR is NOT – and what it does mean for your small business

Wish you could leverage the power of PR, but don’t really understand it? Here are eight things PR is not, and what it does mean for your small business.

If you keep seeing your competitors on the pages of glossy magazines and in the feeds of IG influencers, I bet you’re wondering how they’re doing it and secretly thinking your products would look so much better?   

The answer isn’t good luck and knowing the right people (though contacts do help) but more down to the fact they will be working on their PR game, and if you want to own some of those golden column inches you so rightly deserve, you need to get involved.   

PR is a term that many people just don’t understand, but having worked in the industry for over 20 years, I get it.

I also know that at best, PR is considered to be fluffy fun; at worst it’s a dark art that is fuelled by fake news and peddled by dodgy spin doctors.   

This, however, isn’t the PR stage I have worked on for over two decades, and so I’d like to get to the bottom of this, and clear a few things up. 

Eight things PR is not

Here are eight things that PR most definitely is not:

  1. PR isn’t just for big businesses and celebrities. It is also for hardworking, inspirational small business owners with passion and ambition – just like you.   
  2. PR isn’t ER or a matter of life or death, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important and that it can’t breathe life into your business.    
  3. PR is NOT free – I’ve lost count of how many people have asked me to get them free advertising. PR is an investment of time, energy, creativity and resources, all of which are precious commodities that need to be used wisely.  
  4. PR isn’t just about pages of coverage – but that is nice to see.  Exposure needs to fit with your ‘why’ so it helps you grow your business and shine so people know you are there.  
  5. PR isn’t about boozy lunches, endless champagne and swanky offices…but I do encourage you to celebrate your wins, big and small, with bubbles!   
  6. PR isn’t lies and covering up your mistakes. It’s about being honest and transparent so that you earn trust and respect from not only your clients, but journalists and social influencers too. 
  7. PR isn’t a fad, it is here to stay and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
  8. PR isn’t always easy to get right but if you are dedicated and put in the time, I think you will see it can take you to some amazing places – Red, Psychologies and onto the Talented Ladies website. 

So, what is PR? 

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations says, “Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you”.  

They go on to say, “Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics”.  

What this really means, is that PR is what other people say about you, and when the media start talking about you, things can get interesting, and busy.    

PR encompasses a range of areas, including corporate, internal and crisis communications, social media management and community relations, and media relations still remain a key activity.    

Media relations is what I have spent a great deal of my two-decade career doing and it is about building strong relationships with the press so they answer your emails, take your calls, come to your events and review your products.

If you get them to do this, their experiences will turn into words that are be read, or listened to, by their audiences who will start to see you in the same light and that, in a nutshell, is PR.   

The media landscape today

When I talk about the media, today I am not just referring to the newspapers, magazines and broadcast options that were the industry staple when I started out over twenty years ago 

Now, more than ever, there’s a growing mix of multi-channel platforms, from print  and online to audio, and these are ever changing and evolving. 

Traditional outlets are closing, others are merging with social sites and new ones are popping up all the time. For small business owners, this means there are more opportunities than ever for you to elevate your business, get people talking about you and buying from you and this will lead you to grow in both size, and confidence. 

PR isn’t for the faint hearted – it takes courage, determination and hard work – but believe me, the more you do it the easier it will become and the better the results will be.   

Natalie Trice is the founder of PR School and if you sign up to her new online membership in June you will get the lifetime founders fee of £30, which increases to £35 a month but is still a pretty good deal if you want your own PR guru cheering you on. 

Also, look out for her second book, PR School – Your Time to Shine, which will be out in December and promises to be the ultimate guide to understanding PR and doing it yourself with confidence.