Small business PR is not “simple” or “easy” just because you’re marketing a small business. In many ways, developing a brand presence and media connections for a small business is more complex and riskier than working a similar campaign for a big business. For one thing, you don’t have as much of a cushion for a mistake.

If a major company makes a PR misstep, it stings, and it’s definitely not a good thing. But, in many cases, they have the resources to just move on and try again. If a small business, with limited funds, time, and people power, misuses their PR, misfires, or simply wastes an opportunity, it can be devastating.

Of course, an effective, influential PR campaign could open all kinds of doors and dramatically increase your opportunity, so let’s look at a simple checklist to help you get it right the first time.

Question 1 — How simple, clear, and connective is your pitch?

Your initial pitch should result in a mutual understanding that is easily transferable. In other words, your media partner should be able to accurately transfer who you are and what you’re about to your intended audience in a way that allows that audience to tell others in a way that lands everyone pretty much on the same page.

Another aspect of “clarity” is the “who” behind the message. Today’s marketplace, thanks to social media, is incredibly connective and personal. People feel like they “know” and “understand” thought leaders like Elon Musk, Tim Cook, and Seth Godin. These are very different leaders who operate in very different ways within their companies, but their audience feels like they have a personal connection to and understanding of these leaders.

Consumers want to know what your company is all about… and that starts with you. You should be able to speak on three to five specific topics related to your brand, distilling the big ideas about those topics into a single sentence as well as three-minute talks and 30-minute conversations. And you need to be able to do the same thing about yourself, in a way that connects with your audience while protecting your privacy.

Question 2 — Can you clearly and concisely explain what you do without jargon?

Business speak is the bane of modern communication. And it’s a trap far too many startups fall into. No consumer cares how many big words you know. They want to understand, not be “impressed” with your impenetrable vocabulary.

The key thought here is to know your audience. If you’re crafting a message for industry insiders, speak in ways they understand. If you’re mass marketing a message, switch it up. Be polished, but also conversational. Give people something they understand, so they can get excited and share it with others.

Question 3 — Do you know where you’re leading them?

Once the message is out there, what do you want the audience to do next? Where do you want them to go? Sure, you want them to “buy,” but you also want them to learn more. Where will they go for that? Your website? Social media? If so, which platforms?

Nothing says “not quite ready for prime time,” like searching for a new brand and landing on an incomplete website or a partially filled out social media page that hasn’t been updated in a year. Remember, your initial goal should be communicating a simple, consistent, defining brand message. And that applies to both how you initiate the conversation and where they go next.

-5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian
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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.