Why a PR Plan Should be Part of your Business Plan

In August I gave a talk for the eWomenNetwork Accelerated Network Luncheon. I spoke about a few things that stood out in a survey taken with the group here in Seattle, Washington. The last topic addressed was on how to budget for working with a public relations professional (which will be addressed in a following blog, and I mention this primarily for the eWomen Seattle group). During the speech, I promised to blog about the topics I spoke on in more depth, as well as answer questions individually to those that asked. My plan ongoing, is to also to write about the questions in more detail. This post is the beginning of that journey, which should take us through the next several weeks. It will be a learning experience not only for the eWomenNetwork Seattle group, but for all interested in this topic. Here I will discuss why a public relations plan should be a part of the overall business plan. Strategic public relations planning is not just for large companies, and it does not require hiring a full on agency if your small business does not warrant it.

In my 20+ years, I have learned time and again that it all starts with learning about what public relations is, and for our purposes here I will be addressing publicity and promotion under the public relations umbrella and why a crisis management plan is important. From my survey taken with the eWomen Seattle group, getting the word out about what they do, who they are, why it matters and who benefits is critical. This is important to all entrepreneurs, whether they are in a service profession and work out of their home, work independently with a larger firm, have an online business, or a small-to-medium sized business with a storefront. It is easy to get confused, depending on who you listen to and the books you read. Here are three things you can sink your teeth into to start with, on the journey of understanding why you need public relations:

1.  Put your marketing plan in motion first, because your PR plan should ignite it. The marketing plan is built from the marketing mix, something most people know about from going to business college – if that was your path. It you did not, then pay close attention, as this will be a great help to you. The marketing mix is made up of four parts: your product (or service), the price you set for that product (s) or service (s), the place or location you choose to have your business–online, store front, home office (this also includes distribution), and promotion. How are you going to promote your business? There are a number of things you can do, including direct mail, in-store or online parties, partnering with non-profits, or as David Meerman Scott proposes in his book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR–do something brilliant that gets the attention of your customer and the media.

Publicity lights a fire and works with your overall marketing strategy to keep it burning

Publicity lights a fire and works with your overall marketing strategy to keep it burning

2.  Make a list of creative promotional ideas. Promotional campaigns, which are also called PR campaigns (because promotions are leveraged for publicity)  should be fun, relevant, and attract attention. This is the buzz effect. If your product or service is not necessarily exciting you have to create something exciting, or get involved with the latest craze to get noticed, like the current ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. You can either get on board and create your own (it is about over though, they have raised about 100 million) or take another route like these people Mashable wrote about “8 Bucket Challenges That Don’t Involve Any Ice“. You can make it funny, or more serious depending on the message you are trying to convey. The key is to consistently live outside your comfort zone brainstorming ideas. Using the latest craze can get you media attention and the attention of your customer. What sets good PR apart, is the approach taken to create buzz that gets you noticed instead of your competition.

3.  Decide who will take care of your clients in an emergency. Crisis management is a practice area under the public relations umbrella. We will touch on it briefly here, as it should be a part of your overall public relations plan which makes for a healthy business plan that not only makes it more attractive to loan institutions, (if you are thinking about going for a small-to-medium sized business loan) but it’s good business. Just over two years ago I had a health emergency that landed me in the emergency room (thinking I had food poisoning) and following emergency surgery, I was in the hospital for almost two weeks. I had no plan in motion to care for my clients, no one to call that could either jump in and make phone calls, or manage my clients in my absence. The lesson here, is even if you are a sole proprietor, it is your responsibility to make sure that someone knows who your clients are, what is in motion, and has all their contact information. The best plan has someone on call that you collaborate with that is familiar with your clients, and knows who to call to put the plan in action. From there, your emergency partner can either manage these clients with your direction until you can step back into your business, or find them someone else to work with in the event of your death. When my emergency happened, I lost two clients. It was my responsibility to make sure there was someone to call them and keep them informed and give them options. I did not have this plan in action. I do now! It is the right thing to do, and it shows your commitment and integrity to those you serve, in case of an emergency. Make sure your clients are aware of your plan, they will respect you for it.

The three things talked about here are great to get your mental engine going–getting a strong marketing plan in place so you can ignite it with public relations, brainstorm your promotional ideas and make sure to get that crisis management plan in place. I look forward to hearing your questions and comments here. Jump in! Let’s engage and have a conversation. There will be many blog posts to follow, and I look forward to giving you great content to continue to sink your teeth into!

How to Use Twitter to Promote Your Book

There are a million experts out there who will tell you the best use of social media to publicize and promote books. However, what really works are things that stand the test of time. One of these things is leveraging Twitter to tell the world about your book, whether it has been published yet or not. Generating excitement around what you are about to release into the world is huge in regards to your success. Small for post

One of the ways to do that, is arrange your tweets in such a fashion that it is easy for others to help you. Create “buzz” and leverage your own list through Twitter. Create your blog posts, newsletters and all correspondence that hits the Internet to include tweets people can simply click on which takes them to your account, where you can then have people follow you and retweet to their followers (hence creating buzz).

Chances are, if they are reading your blog or newsletter, they already follow you and they will love to retweet for you! You are making it easy for them to help you. Especially if you make your tweets about your book fun facts, or exciting news. Think “creative” story. Here is an example of this process from a start-up called Vooza, taken from their newsletter I subscribe to:

The @VoozaHQ Hot Five
We are twerking hard on Twitter…

“If you’re going to fail, then fail fast.” Alternatively, you could aim to not fail. But that’s, like, hard so forget about it. (Tweet)

Honest tech blog headline: “Is this the new Apple iPhone design? No. No, it’s not. But hey, page views!” (Tweet)

Hey Internet, nice job using Miley Cyrus to talk about whatever you wanted to talk about anyway. (Tweet)

The tech world is the only place people get congratulated for borrowing money. (Tweet)

#I’m #tagging #keywords #as #often #as #possible #and #it’s #not #annoying #at #all! #blessed (Tweet)

Get more like that: Follow @VoozaHQ at Twitter and/or “Like” us on Facebook.

Many people shy away from this, as they think it is more difficult than it seems. Don’t let that bug bite you! There are three ways to learn more about how to do this effectively:

    1. Do it yourself by going to your Twitter account, go to one of your Tweets you would like to share, click on “more” at the bottom of your tweet, (in order, it will read Reply, Retweet, Favorite, More, Assign to) click on ‘more’ and copy and paste the embedded code, and you can really personalize it like Vooza.
    2. Create a link from the free website, clicktotweet.com which works like bitly or Tiny Url only it converts your tweet to work like Vooza. It does not look as nice, but it works if you are on a tight budget. Here is an example:
      Don’t want to mess with embedding your tweet to get added exposure through retweets for your #book,  or #business visit clicktotweet.com (Tweet).
    3. Email me at Lynette@firetalkerpr.com for more information (best way!).

Join Firetalker PR on Facebook! We are going to be really starting fires with contests, free stuff and more, all aimed at helping you grow this fall, and want you there! Follow us on Twitter too. See you soon.