SMEs and PR: Busting those myths

Working on promoting an SME can be one of the most rewarding PR roles out there; catapulting a small business into the public eye and boosting their reputation so that they’re sharing column inches with bigger entities is an addictive buzz. That said, as with any PR function, an important part of the role of an SME PR is managing expectations, to ensure that clients have realistic ideas of what can, and should, be achieved for the benefit of their business. Here we look at some of the most common misconceptions among small businesses when they take on a PR firm.

“I want to be on the front page”

Many small businesses want to appear in the national newspapers, without really knowing why. The misconception is that the bigger the publication, the more beneficial it’ll be to your business – but this is not always the case. A publication could have monthly visitor traffic of 1 million, but if few of them are interested in what your business has to say, what’s the point? Conversely, another publication could have just 10,000 readers, but, because that particular publication is read by your target audience, the chances are, they’re listening.

“I want to be on TV”

Many SME owners want to become famous, believing that fame alone with drive their business to success. In fact, a more tailored approach to PR, such as press coverage in appropriate outlets for your business, is more likely to achieve the positive results that you so desire. Although broadcast media can be a helpful tool to promote your product or service, it may not always be the most beneficial outlet for you. A good PR agency should identify the most useful outlets to your particular business, explain why, and approach them on your behalf.

“I want to see immediate results in my sales”

PR is a long game, and the truth is, one piece of coverage isn’t going to turn your SME into a multi-million pound company. The purpose of PR is to develop your presence in the media, and to prove that you are an expert in your specialist area – one or two pieces of coverage won’t achieve this, but they will be the first steps in doing so. A good PR firm will work to promote your key messages in relevant outlets, time and time again. This will ensure that, in time, your business name will become synonymous with the service you provide in people’s minds.

“Can you get the journalist to…?”

The role of a PR isn’t to tell the press what to write, and most journalists will respond badly to any attempt to do so. Their trade is writing, so let then write. It’s important to remember that not everything your PR team sends to the press will be reflected identically in print. In some cases, only 50 words of your 500-word document may make the cut, in others, the point which you thought was your best is overlooked in favour of another.