Journalist and media consultant, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
As we move into this crisis where the world is slowing down – and so is business for most of us – it’s important to stay visible if you want to continue your business in the medium to long term.
Many people don’t take public relations seriously and see it as some kind of dark art. It is not and at this time it’s absolutely critical to survival in the long term even if it won’t deal with short term losses. It’s now that people are going to start to learn how important public relations really is and I hope, for most of you, that it’s not too late.
Professionals like me are being cut left, right and centre as business owners hurry to cut costs, even though we should be the people helping you deal with this situation by making you and your business stand out. Over time the brands and SMEs which survive will be those who keep working with people like me all over the world – either to run things or simply to train you to do it yourself.
One key thing to do is this: write a list of keywords based around subjects you can talk about with authority. Think about your expertise, business product or service and, of equal importance, your personal circumstances. Be a human being, not just a business person.
Think what other things about your life might be of interest. Think of your life as a magazine with different sections, e.g. I’m a parent, I love caravanning, I’m a bookworm, I’m a step-parent, I’m gay, I’m one of three children, I’m single, etc. Consider which of those things you are happy to talk about. Then later when you write articles include relevant keywords from that list to make that article, blog, post searchable. This is basic preparation to embrace being more visible.
Here are just a few things you can do to deal with this crisis today.
Accept your new reality – promote a positive message of how you are flexing, pivoting, changing your business, products or services to your existing audiences and on your website. If your business needs to be dormant, tell the truth, be upfront with information. Share photographs of the reality of working from home for you. Don’t be afraid. Most of us are in the same boat.
Don’t whinge and whine on social media (except in closed groups that you trust), don’t issue passive-aggressive messages, don’t try to sell by sending direct private messages to people. All of this will damage your reputation.
Blog, blog, blog – come up with a blogging plan and consider how often to blog in your new reality that you can sustain and be consistent. These are short-form articles showcasing your business/service/expertise and include details of how to buy from you in a gentle manner. Once you’ve decided where to blog (website, LinkedIn or other platforms) be consistent and regular. Always include at least one picture.
Don’t think 100 words is enough for a blog. However, don’t write a 3,000-word essay. You are not writing a book here, you are showcasing a little of your expertise. Don’t just sell, sell, sell or people will not engage.
Embrace video – if you’ve avoided video then now is the time to get over yourself and go for it. You could vlog instead of blog, or do both. Again think about the message, what are you trying to get across and plan some content around it. You could do some content for Facebook Live or start a YouTube channel and film it yourself with your smartphone, tablet or a digital camera. Keep selling messages subtle.
Don’t make a dull film listing all of your services or products. It needs to be interesting, have value for the viewer, and strike a positive tone. While you can have a selling message, keep it gentle and avoid the hard sell. Listen to feedback and don’t be offended by comments, better to be trying and learning than taking no action at all.
Engage with the media – the media are proving at this time how critically important they are in our society. It’s easy to criticise them but the information they are providing is crucial – how would the government even begin to communicate with us without the traditional media? However, the media is made up of people, the majority self-employed and working from home and they are desperate for content. Ensure you can be found on the internet when they are searching for something relevant for you and your business. Coronavirus will be the major theme for weeks to come. But journalists will be looking for positive, anti-coronavirus stories too. Journalists can be found across social media – search for them.
Don’t demand that journalists write about you, it’s not their job to do that. If they do, don’t complain about the one word they got wrong in the 500 words they wrote about you. They are human and they are summarising the 1000 or 10,000 words you shared with them. Don’t sweat that kind of detail. You want them to come back. Don’t insult the local media. They are actually the route to the client who doesn’t know you yet, most SMEs get their business locally.
For further information
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