3 ways PR pros can make a splash

Though making connections is an integral part of a successful career in PR, it’s also about subject expertise—and how communicators can showcase their skills.

This article originally ran on PR Daily in February in 2017.

If your business doesn’t have world-class connections, PR can seem like an battle you can’t win.

In this age of content saturation, though it certainly helps to have connections, it’s not all about whom you know. What you know also matters.

In the world of PR, it often seems as if the rich keep on getting richer. After all, it’s relatively easy for a major brand with strong connections to get a feature piece in an industry magazine or set up an interview with a well-known blogger or journalist.

Then there’s your brand. You know your quality is just as good, but you don’t have the brand equity and recognition that your competitors do. How can you possibly compete without catching a major break?

Try these steps:

1. Start with internal reflection.

Before you can focus on various PR techniques, ask: Is your business worthy of press coverage and recognition? What would set your business apart from the competition?

“You have to find ways to make your small business shine brighter than your competition,” says Angela of DialMyCalls, a leading SMS broadcasting provider. “Take chances, and be creative when it comes to your products and services. The same is true for your marketing techniques. Create a memorable catch phrase, and brand your small business in a way that is unique from any others similar to yours.”

Unique, memorable businesses get attention. Those that blend in with the crowd don’t give journalists and bloggers a reason to look twice. Stay true to your brand’s identity, but seek out opportunities to show what makes it distinctive.

2. Choose the right channels.

Channel selection is important. By narrowing your focus to two or three specific channels, you can learn the ins and outs of what works sooner than if you’re spreading your resources over a variety of channels.

For smaller businesses with limited PR budgets, the focus should be on low-cost, high-reward opportunities. As opposed to focusing on major print publications and national television interviews, zoom in and go after industry blogs, niche magazines, podcasts and social media influencers. This is where you’ll see cost-effective returns.

3. Don’t be selfish.

“A relationship with a journalist is a two-way street. Establish yourself as an authentic and credible source, and regularly update your press contacts on market trends and industry news,” entrepreneur Matthew Toren says. “Don’t just get in touch when you want them to cover your brand. That’s a pretty transparent relationship, and journalists don’t like it any more than you would.”

Selfishness never pays off in PR. You must be willing to give a lot and accept a little. Should you commit to giving, you’ll discover you have credits in the bank in a time of need.

Simply having a smaller budget and limited industry connections doesn’t mean you can’t invest in PR. There are opportunities for you to thrive, but you have to be creative and committed. Eventually, your dedication to learning the what and not just trying to schmooze your way to the who will pay off in a big way.

Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer and business consultant. She has lectured for several universities and has worked with more than 100 businesses in the last 15 years.

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