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.

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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.

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-5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian
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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.