Six ways a PR agency can grow your SME
Every organisation, no matter how large or small, is reliant on its reputation for success and survival. Public relations isn’t just for multinationals and large organisations, PR works equally well for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, PR is about reputation; the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Things relevant to every business.
The vibrant start-up community in Ireland means that even more small businesses are establishing themselves and trying to create a name for themselves. With such a crowded environment and plenty of competition, SMEs need to do what they can to stand out from the crowd if they want to grow and excel. That’s where PR comes in.
Here are six ways a public relations agency can help establish and bolster the reputation of your SME.
- Define your brand
- Cost-effective brand awareness
- Enhance credibility
- Generate leads
- Build banks of trust
- Attract the right people
- Define your brand
Think of some of the most well-known brands – they all have a recognisable brand identity. Apple is an innovator and the creator of an extraordinary future; Nike is a conqueror that is brave, strong and capable of overcoming challenges; and Ryanair is a straight-talker, no-nonsense, low-cost airline. Starting out, SMEs lack brand recognition which means customers don’t have a story or identity to connect your company name with.
Perhaps one of the most important things a PR agency can do for an SME is to help define the brand. By developing a mantra and identifying two to three key messages, a PR agency can help ensure that a company is consistent in its communication with its audience and that every piece of commentary or news announcement helps to build a brand identity. This is an essential step in establishing a recognisable, successful and memorable company.
2. Cost-effective brand awareness
In an SME, budgets are often tighter than in larger organisations. Public relations can be neglected by organisations in favour of other marketing activities such as advertising. However, PR actually achieves greater bang for your buck, and is in fact a great way for SMEs to raise brand awareness.
For example, take a press release which tells a great story about your company. With an agency that is experienced in securing coverage, this will appear across national media with your key messages appearing in multiple outlets. Furthermore, online coverage remains visible long after the press release is issued, thus continuing to raise awareness and promote your organisation. There is no comparison between this reach and subsequent awareness than that which could be secured through one or two adverts for the same price.
3. Enhance credibility
Public relations also offers third-party credibility for brands. Unlike paid media, such as a newspaper advertisement or sponsored Instagram post, PR relies on earned media, which comes with a greater weight of credibility. Having a journalist independently endorse your service or product creates a far more credible, organic and resonant message with your target audience.
Over time, with continued contributions on a topic, journalists will begin to see your spokespeople as thought leaders who they can turn to for comment and opinion on the latest developments in the industry. This is invaluable PR for a business, with prospective customers seeing this coverage, recognising your business as an authority in the field and approaching you for advice or business.
4. Generate leads
Reputation is central to any organisation’s success, but many SME leaders want to know how PR contributes to the bottom line. Measuring the exact impact of PR on lead generation is difficult, but its positive role is undeniable. PR can create targeted content which appears in the specific outlets an SME’s prospective customers are reading, viewing or listening to. This not only builds awareness, but also affinity as people get to know your brand’s story and identity through consistent messaging.
This can make all the difference when it comes to a customer choosing you over a competitor. With continued exposure to messaging on what you can offer, customers are more likely to reach out to you for your services or be more receptive if contacted by your sales team. The accumulation of messages built up by PR over time leads to more customers going with your brand over a competitor they know less about.
5. Build banks of trust
As alluded to, PR isn’t a switch you can flick on and expect instant results. It’s all about building up your company’s reputation and relationships over time which will help to yield success and benefits. More than simply generating leads, PR creates goodwill between a company and its stakeholders.
SMEs are more susceptible to failure if they encounter a crisis or major issue, as they don’t have the same resources as bigger companies to ride out a period of negativity. That is why it is even more important for SMEs to focus on nurturing relationships and building banks of trust. This trust mitigates the impact of a crisis. Customers have an existing perception of your company and have the capacity to associate you with more than just the negative event. Furthermore, a PR agency has the experience to guide you through any crisis that arises.
6. Attract the right people
Finally, public relations is a powerful tool for employer branding. In order to grow, an SME needs to attract talent and find the right people. Telling your story through PR will inform prospective employees about your core values and culture, increasing the chances of finding candidates who are a good fit. An agency can also help to build up a store of content including white papers and blogs, which can be used to populate your website. Well written and produced website content is an important touchpoint for potential team members, and it can be the deciding factor on whether they choose to apply or not.
While SMEs are thriving in Ireland, in almost every sector the competition is fierce. Leveraging the experience of a public relations agency can give an SME the advantage over their competitors in a far more cost-effective way than many other marketing activities. Comit has a proven track record of success in helping technology companies of all sizes to grow. Contact us today to discuss what we can do for your business.