Harness Public Relations to Build Your Business

[Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.]

[Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.]

Public relations (PR) is about generating goodwill toward your business. Because the foundation of your practice is building relationships with others based on care and trust, you generate goodwill everyday. If someone begins to take better care of themselves because you talked to them or gave them their first massage, you have created successful PR.

Why public relations?

So, why should I do more, you ask. It’s so you can promote a good relationship between yourself and the larger community. Do you give away free services to fundraisers, offer free chair massage at certain times, or talk to people about the benefits of what you do? This is you doing PR naturally. Simply generating understanding of the benefits of what you do is a public service — because you know that what you offer helps people reduce their stress, improve their energy, and feel better.

PR or publicity?

People often refer to public relations as what a business does to communicate with the public through the media — newspaper, radio, and television. That’s publicity, one of the arms of public relations. Publicity is spreading the word about your practice via the media. It is good for you and the community because it gets your name out to people who aren’t yet reaping the benefits of what you do. One great thing about publicity is that it can actually spread the word about you more effectively than advertising. It establishes you as credible professional and an expert in your field. And it costs nothing more than your time.

Is it newsworthy?

The media is looking for unique, interesting news, but journalists have to choose from the flood of information that crosses their desks. You need to have a hook, something that really grabs attention. So look hard at why anyone but you would care about the information you want to publicize. Some public relations activities are newsworthy, and some aren’t. For example, joining a networking organization is not noteworthy.

Here’s how you can determine what is worthy of a PR effort:

Start by taking a look at your clients. Who are they? What are their problems? What kind of results are you getting? If you are helping your clients live more comfortably with fibromyalgia, not only will people want to know about that, it makes you a credible expert. If you’re finding that more families are bringing in their kids with sports injuries, the same is true. And so on. To be newsworthy, information should fulfill an unmet need, make people’s lives easier, or be unique. Your work probably meets more than one of these criteria. The fact that you give massage to a certain kind of people, however, is not news. But the information that people with arthritis, for example, get better with a bodywork technique you provide could be news. You can mount a newsworthy PR campaign around it by making a presentation, giving away free massage to an arthritis support group, or helping to organize a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation.

In another example, the fact that you are opening a business is arguably not really news. It might get you a small notice on the business page, but you should ask yourself what the benefit is to the larger community. Are you expanding into a new location where you can help more people? Are you hosting an open house where people can experience free demonstrations, meet your staff, and learn how your services can benefit them? Volunteering for charity events is definitely newsworthy and can make your generosity more visible to the community at large. You could participate in a charity gala that benefits those with a condition you work with, sponsor a team for a Special Olympics event, or volunteer for a walk-a-thon fundraiser.

Get the most PR from events.

Once you’ve publicized an event such as a health fair or presentation, you can further promote your business with a drawing or by giving out brochures, self-care tips, or newsletters at the event. If that doesn’t feel appropriate for an event, say if you are giving massage to people coping with a community crisis, simply having your business cards available or getting a mention as a volunteer in the media will be noticed.

Make use of a press release.

The main tool of publicizing your public relations efforts is the press release. If you are serious about publicity, you should know how to use it. The press release allows you to grab the attention of busy journalists at your local daily or weekly newspapers, the publisher of your area’s alternative health publication, or the staff at radio and television stations.

If you struggle with writing press releases, or other marketing communications, download this free communications checklist to get you started, or purchase 150 pre-written letters and emails in the Marketing Communications Kit mentioned below.