VIDEO: How to use PR to grow your small business

PR strategies are a luxury only available to big businesses with global marketing budgets and employees with titles like, President of PR Policy, Director of Communications or Public Relations Senior Executive, right? Wrong.

A good PR plan is a weapon that every business can arm themselves with in the quest for survival and growth, no matter what size. Joe Thomas is a man who knows this better than most. As Senior Consumer PR at Virgin Media, he guides the finalists of our Pitch to Rich competition to make sure they generate positive PR off the back of the competition, getting the finalists and their businesses seen and heard through the press. In 2014, this resulted in over 130 pieces of coverage for the startups in the final. We sat him down and grabbed his top three tips for how startups can get the maximum amount of PR for the lowest amount of cost.

1. Know your audience

Who is your audience, what matters to them and why are you relevant? If you’re trying to sell a product to the general public, it’s so important they understand what your product is and why they should care about it. That gives you the main message for your company that you can apply to everything else.

2. Know your story

Create an interesting story about you as a person and you as a business. For instance, was there a moment of inspiration that helped you come up with your business idea? My favourite example is from Virgin Galactic. It was an idea suggested by a kid. Everyone remembers that, and over the next few years, you can bet your bottom dollar that Sir Richard Branson will reference it many times. So have a think about what that moment is for you and your business.

3. Get involved in the conversation

Know what your target market are talking about and go out there and join in, especially through the Internet. Get on Twitter, follow hashtags, have an opinion, get on LinkedIn, join groups, have a voice and be heard. Try and do that for things that are relevant to your audience and your business. In doing so, you’ll go from being an entrepreneur trying to sell or pitch things to being an expert that offers advice or consultancy. That adds significant value to your own personal profile, as well as the profile of your business.