One of my favorite things about working at AM:PM PR is that we’re constantly meeting fresh, exciting and creative entrepreneurs who are willing to try off-the-wall tactics to get some well-deserved attention for their cool ideas. Unfortunately we can’t help every brilliant bootstrapped business-baron that marches through our chambers, but we can share some pointers about typical challenges we see facing these cash-conscious capitalists.
Below are four tips for entrepreneurs looking to get some guidance related to common public relations challenges. These are based on four common challenges we observe when businesspeople are trying to bootstrap their public relations efforts.
CHALLENGE: Lack of formal public relations training or experience
Some factors that negatively impact promotional efforts include: improper messaging, poor timing, and targeting the wrong audiences. It’s common to see businesspeople muddling their efforts with inconsistent language, improperly identified promotional goals, products pitched during the wrong time of the year, ignoring relevant lead times for the media, or targeting the wrong media to begin with. These are all obvious challenges for brains marinated in marketing-oriented mindsets, but for the un-anointed, these challenges are breeding grounds for time consuming trial-and-error.
Solution: Spend a little more time researching and thinking about who is most interested in your product and where you might reach them. Pick up a couple of books from the library that explain the basics of marketing and public relations and read them six-months before launching your product or campaign.
CHALLENGE: Lack of time
Running a business is time consuming, and the nuts and bolts of daily operations often get in the way of the nuts and bolts of your marketing and public relations efforts. It’s important to take time to regularly check in to see if your efforts are in keeping with your 5-year plan, your one-year plan and your goals for the month.
Solution: Find some time throughout the month to visit less-stressful pastures that allow you the freedom to ruminate on your approach. Research upcoming media opportunities related to holidays, anniversaries, celebrations or other relevant dates on the calendar; keeping in mind that media lead times differ between print publications, radio and digital media.
There’s nothing wrong with being confident, but sometimes overconfidence stands between identifying and achieving relevant goals, and obtaining the success you deserve. Think of marketing as you would accounting. Marketing should be planned for as a cost of doing business, just as accounting, production and payroll would be. Too often we see businesses with great ideas, but they can’t afford to tell people about them because they were overconfident in word of mouth. Remember the Harlem Shake? This article points out that you didn’t make the Harlem Shake go viral, corporations with marketing teams did.
Solution: Include marketing costs in any business plan or product idea. Whether you hire an in-house public relations professional or hire an outside team of professionals to guide your marketing and public relations efforts, a long term approach will ensure you have properly identified future opportunities. Developing a marketing plan also ensures consistency, budget efficiency and offers a roadmap for meeting objectives.
CHALLENGE: Keeping pace with communications trends
If you’re not constantly consuming media and keeping up with the latest trends, you’re missing out on opportunities. Imagine if Don Draper were parachuted into the 2013 media landscape – his ideas would be sexist and archaic (not to mention his daytime drinking habits would be a bit off-putting). During the past five years the media has experienced another sea-change and if you haven’t been paying attention it’s time to get with it, or reach out to someone who has.
Solution: Read the newspaper, magazines and industry-related blogs. If possible, find the equivalent of Don Draper’s grandson. Join us for Speakeasy and present your challenges to the group.
Conclusion: We hope these challenges/solutions are helpful. Feel free to post a comment if you have a specific question.
Other good resources:
American Express’s Open Forum
Entrepreneur.com’s Marketing Strategies & Ideas for Your Business