We recently spoke to our friends at PR Dispatch, who kindly pulled together the below information to talk about the importance of post-pandemic PR for small businesses.
If you haven’t heard of them before, PR Dispatch is the UK’s first affordable PR membership platform supporting product-based businesses to DIY their own PR and gain magazine coverage themselves. As experts in their field, we thought there no better team of people to help encourage our own Printed.com customers to kick-start their PR activities this year.
So guys tell us, what’s changed?
Throughout COVID-19 we’ve seen the media putting the spotlight on small businesses more than ever before. And this is a trend that we’re likely to continue to see.
In this blog post, we show you how the pandemic has changed the way the press works, press trends and themes, why PR is more relevant than ever and some of our top tips to help you navigate your PR and increase your awareness of your business.
Digital became king
At the beginning of COVID-19 we saw a lot of publications pivoting and adapting. Some temporarily paused print publications and focused their efforts on their online counterparts. People were spending more time at home and to cater for the increased demand for digital content, magazines produced more features than ever. The topics and themes across publications were adjusted to produce tailored, helpful content that was relevant to what was going on.
Small businesses, big press presence
During the pandemic it was time to band together and to support small businesses. We saw a high increase in independent businesses being featured in the press across most, if not all, publications. This is a trend that we’ve seen throughout the pandemic and that we’ll very likely continue to see going forward. It’s what we believe has become the ‘new norm’.
The press have also been actively looking for independent businesses to feature – requesting to hear from smaller brands for a number of features via social media. While the press have always loved hearing from smaller businesses, they’re now more interested to hear from indie businesses than ever. Being a small business in the world of media is an advantage.
A focus on non-London centric businesses
In addition to the increased press visibility on independent businesses, there has also been a shift in location focus. Where London-based businesses often have dominated the press landscape, there’s now a bigger focus on non-London centric brands.
The press is putting the spotlight on businesses and shops across the UK more regularly. These features can include a round-up of different shops in different towns or cities, or an article dedicated to a specific area. If a business locally to you is featured in the press it’ll likely have a positive effect on yours too.
This change is ultimately a result of consumers spending more time digitally. It’s a reflection of a shift in the consumer mindset; the pandemic has turned a lot of people into more conscious consumers. A lot of consumers are likely to continue to shop independently so make sure you capture potential customers via press coverage.
Why is PR more relevant to product-based businesses than ever?
Aside from brand awareness which is the main goal of PR, being featured in the press has a number of other benefits. We’ve explored a few of these below:
Boosts your SEO visibility
Consumer habits are changing, and most people look online as the first step in making any purchasing decisions. Just think about how often you Google a brand or a product before making that first purchase. In fact, over 88% of customers begin their buying process with a search.
Let’s say a customer is on the lookout for independent stationery brands. They might type in ‘best independent stationery brands’’ and press articles with those keywords will appear. If you’re featured in the relevant articles as a result of your PR, the consumer is able to discover, read about and shop from you via a press article. Having that endorsement is powerful and can sway a person’s buying journey. Being featured in press articles will make you more visible and Google and help you become more discoverable.
Digital press coverage also allows potential customers to click through straight away and find out more about your business and browse your products.
Supports and strengthens your marketing
As we mentioned earlier in this blog post, there has been a shift in mindset and many consumers are making more concious shopping decisions. They actively look for independent businesses to buy from so if you’re able to capture potential customers via the press and keep them engaged through clever marketing then you’re onto a winning strategy. PR and marketing work differently, but share the same goal – so by doing both consistently you’ll be able to keep growing.
Builds credibility and trust
PR plays a key role in building trust and credibility in the digital age. With the increased digitalisation and social media usage, many view social media as a form of PR. While it’s an important channel, social media can never replace PR completely. People are getting savvier and many consumers still have more faith in the press. With so much social noise and with such little control over what information is floating around online, it’s press validation that people turn to and trust.
Effective and long-term PR will ensure that your ethos and what you do are communicated clearly, making more people aware of you, but also become more trusting in your business. Obviously, it’s important to communicate your business, products and messaging through your marketing, but it’s crucial to also have the press’s ‘seal of approval’. Having a rave review from another party is always going to impress and encourage existing and potential customers.
Our top tips for effective PR in 2021
Here are some quick and effective tips to help you rejuvinate your PR in today’s press landscape:
Make sure that you have one cutout image for each product listing on your website
Digital publications won’t always respond to your emails if you already have what they need on your website. Online press can use lower resolution imagery which means they can simply ‘take’ images straight from your website. If you have your cut outs on the website you’ll increase your chances of being featured, while making things more efficient for journalists.
Use easily searchable keywords in your pitch emails
In your email pitches, use keywords about your business and product so that the editors can easily find you when they’re searching their inbox for relevant businesses to feature. For example, ‘independent’ and ‘sustainable’.
Stay visible online
Relationship-building goes beyond pitch emails and press outreach. Follow the relevant publications and editors via social media and engage where appropriate.
Jump on reactive opportunities
Reactive press opportunities are typically posted via Twitter with the #journorequest hashtag and can range from commentary to interview opportunities.
A huge thank you to PR Dispatch for sharing their invaluable knowdledge with our community. Don’t forget that Rosie and her team are part of our AMAZING prize package for our Creative Springboard Competition this year. If you haven’t already checked out the shortlist of small businesses you can do so here.