What Is Public Relations, and Why Is It Important for SMEs?


You already have pretty great products, and you’re certain your service is nothing to scoff at. Maybe you even have both a physical and online store.

And every day, the same thought pops into your head: “what can I do to grow my business even more?” 

Your first thought might be digital marketing. But here’s the thing: why settle for the short-term spike in awareness, when you can opt for something that helps you build long-term business relationships and customer loyalty for free?

Meet public relations, or PR.

What is Public Relations? 


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Simply put, PR is all about constant outreach: to the media, to your target audience, to potential investors, to the wider community.

It’s calling their attention to you among the sea of brands in the market — using the trustworthy, established platform of the media. Whether it’s announcing your newest product or partnership, or even positioning you as a thought leader, PR convinces the media that you deserve a spot in the news.

Now that you know what it is, why is it especially useful for small businesses?

Top 5 reasons why public relations are important


1. Grow awareness for your brand with public relations


In business, if people don’t talk about you, you don’t exist!

With so many businesses competing for attention and limited marketing budgets, it can be tough to stand out and get your brand noticed by your target audience, especially if you’re a small entrepreneur.

A well-crafted public relations strategy can be the key to rising above the pack because it lands you space in the media — which is read by thousands of readers, listeners, and viewers!

PR gets your message out to all these folks, who are not only potential customers, but could also be investors or key industry stakeholders.

The more they hear about you in the media they consume, the more likely they are to give you  a shot and not just scroll past you! This buzz and interest can lead to increased brand recognition, customer loyalty, and ultimately, business growth.


2. Build trust and establish credibility


People are exposed to thousands of brands per day. In this cluttered space, with thousands of options to choose from — literally at their fingertips — how does your up-and-coming brand stand out from the crowd?


Customers want brands that are transparent and trustworthy with a positive reputation, and PR can help you build that trust. What exactly do we mean by that?

Just think of the last time you read a magazine.

Chances are, you remember reading about a certain brand or founder or entrepreneur. But do you remember any of the ads you saw?

That’s the power of PR in action!

You’ll be spotlighted by a third-party who is already considered credible in the business, whether that’s a journalist or media outlet that everyone’s familiar with. 

But most importantly, you get much-coveted media space and quality coverage that does wonders for your credibility and legitimacy in the public’s eye.


3. Boost brand reputation and handle crisis management


Accidents happen. Problems pop up. 

Data breaches, executive controversies, unsatisfied customers — your business can never be fully safe from potential negative events that could impact your relationship with your customers.

And let’s face it: in the digital age, it only takes one negative review or a viral post to ruin it all. 

Public relations helps to soften that blow and pick up the pieces after. 

To illustrate, one of our SME clients, StoreHub, took to a PR announcement addressing a massive data leak. This poised them to field and address questions about the crisis upfront, which is super important to help regain control of the brand narrative.

(Fun fact: this resulted in 40 positive-sentiment articles in mainstream media like New Straits Times, Digital News Asia, Vulcan Post, Free Malaysia Today, and tons more!)


4. Be top-of-mind for your customers and the industry


Recall is crucial for any business. And that’s because consumers usually choose something that they are already familiar with.


Photo by nappy

Simply put, this means the more visible you are, the more likely you are to grab and retain customer attention.

Public relations campaigns are never one-trick-ponies where you just hammer out the same ads over and over again! Instead, they’re designed with brand positioning in mind: tackling different aspects of your brand for different audiences and media.

For instance, your first outreach could be an event or product launch announcement. Your next could be an interview opportunity pitch, or a thought leadership op-ed.

See the variety?

With PR, you’ll be in the media more often for more reasons. This gives you many more opportunities to improve your brand’s top-of-mind recall value among customers, and take part in valuable industry conversations.


5. Cost-effective strategy for better brand positioning and share of voice


With advertising, you PAY for space.

With PR, you PRAY for space.

Let us elaborate: placing a print ad, even a small one, can be quite costly. Not only that, an ad will likely be ignored by many of the readers.

However, what if your brand secured a whole article in that same publication?

Subscribers read that publication for the stories, not the advertisements. Now that’s a real opportunity to establish a connection and generate new business leads at a fraction of the cost of advertising.

That can make a world of difference for startups and small businesses, where every penny saved can go into growing other brand channels elsewhere!

The best part is: that same story can then be shared on social media, turned into a blog post or used in a media pitch to earn even more coverage for your business.

How do I get started in doing PR for my business?

As a business owner, you know better than anyone that every business — even the smallest ones — have their own unique story to tell.

Why did you start your business? What motivates you to keep going? What’s special about you? What is your “why”?


Photo by Ben Sweet on Unsplash

Those answers will help guide you as you take up public relations, a valuable tool for any small business to:

  • Get noticed and build a strong brand positioning
  • Consistently communicate positive brand messages and create buzz around products or services
  • Establish credibility and build trust
  • Compete with larger players in the market with stronger share of market voice!

It’s totally okay to not know where to start. 

At Elliot & Co, we have worked with over 1,000 small businesses and startups to develop tailored PR strategies that are designed to increase their brand awareness and generate buzz. 

We leverage various PR tactics to get our clients’ names out there and make them more visible in the marketplace.

If you need help fleshing out your public relations strategy or just want to bounce around some thoughts, let’s connect! We’d love to start a conversation with you about how we can create results for your business.

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