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It’s never too late to teach big dogs new tricks. How small companies do PR and what big companies can learn from them

By Lisa Goldsberry

This is one story about PR and small businesses. Read What do small businesses spend on PR, 5 Things big companies know about PR that small businesses can learn from them, PR firms should avoid startups, and Why small businesses struggle with PR firms for more.


At one time, every business was a small business. Even the Wal-Marts and Microsofts of the world started with an idea and a bit of start-up cash. No matter how big you are or get, it’s important to never forget your more humble beginnings.


You can probably trace most of the things you do now back to lessons learned when you were smaller. Just as small businesses on the path to growth look to emulate the successful actions of larger firms, big businesses can still learn some things from the smaller companies. One such area is the way they handle PR.


485493971Big businesses typically work to promote their accomplishments and successes. Small businesses are still trying to tell their story.

Lesson: Dont forget to continue telling your own story. It’s easy to become complacent and start to believe that everyone already knows it, but they may not, or perhaps they’ve forgotten. Other companies might have competing products, but no one else has your story. When customers understand you, they’re more likely to bond with you, which is the definition of customer loyalty. Like smaller companies, you can use PR strategies to remind people of who you are and to help you stand out from the competition.

Big businesses often focus on the big picture and see customers as one large group. Small businesses still feel the need to connect with each individual customer.

Lesson: Remember that there is a person behind every dollar you make. Even with business-to-business companies, people are still making decisions about which businesses they want to work with. Social media platforms provide an ideal venue to engage your audience on a personal level and even out the playing field between large and small companies. Follow the smaller companies lead: Turn to PR to help you develop social media campaigns to foster real conversations and honest feedback with your audiences.

Big businesses sometimes take press coverage for granted. Small businesses are still trying to achieve name recognition and visibility.

Lesson: Keep in mind that building relationships with media professionals should be a continuous process. It’s easier for large firms to attract the attention of the press, so they may not always try as hard, but you should never fall slack in your media relations efforts. Reporters change outlets and beats all the time, so it’s important to stay up to date on who and how to pitch. Additionally, dont be afraid of online publications and new media outlets, since many more people now get their information through them. Since they often cant do it alone and dont have huge PR staffs, smaller companies make use of PR firms that have the necessary contacts and knowledge and that can turn information into key media placements.

Big businesses typically have larger budgets and more leeway over how funds are spent. Smaller businesses might need to watch every penny and strictly target PR initiatives.

Lesson: Know your goals and what it will look like when you achieve them, then hire the right PR agency for the job. Without much money to spend, smaller companies have learned that it’s wise to concentrate on just a few important PR objectives at one time, and make sure they have measurable outcomes.

At Axia, we work with companies big and small as a strategic partner and trusted advisor to take you from where you are now to where you want to be. Download our e-book Maximizing Your Public Relations Investment or contact us to learn what we can do for your company.

Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter at @axiapr.

Photo credit: Thinkstockphotos.com

Topics: public relations

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