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Punch above your weight – the secret to PR success

Posted by Lorraine Jenkins on 16th February 2010

While the old adage ‘size matters’ might apply to marketing budgets, when it comes to building a business profile, ‘bigger is better’ holds little truth. In this digital age, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are better placed than ever to get maximum returns from their investment in communications campaigns.

It’s worth remembering that over 99% of UK companies employ less than 250 people and the SMB sector makes a powerful contribution to the economy. At Wildfire we work with many clients who fit the SMB bracket and are generating brand awareness that their bigger competitors cannot match. So we’re happy to share our experience (and even boast a little) together with some tips that can help smaller brands really punch above their weight:

1. Know Your Audience

Small businesses are often targeting a niche industry sector, with a very specific product or service offering. So know who your prospects are, find out how they consume media and spend your marketing budget wisely so you reach the people who are going to buy your product or service. For example, our YourTube video competition for Optoma generated over half a million views in just a few weeks.

2. Think big, act big

Who’s to know that behind your website, email campaign and Facebook page, just a handful of people are keeping the cogs turning?  Engaging in social media can help you build up a legion of enthusiastic and evangelistic supporters, through Twitter accounts or Facebook pages (see our interview with Guy Clapperton for more tips on how to do this).  Our e-waste campaign for charity Computer Aid International used social media to attract 700 signatories for a petition that captured the attention of Downing Street.

3. Be flexible and reactive

The window of opportunity to be included in a timely news piece is often very small.  Big brands are slowed down by cumbersome approval processes, so taking advantage of being first can give a smaller firm valuable coverage where they might otherwise have been overlooked.

Rocela, the world’s fastest growing independent Oracle consultancy, recently made the news in many of the top tier technology publications by commenting on the recent Sun Microsystems takeover by Oracle. Rocela’s CEO Martin Mutch, made himself available before and immediately after Oracle’s press conference with prepared comment on how the takeover will effect end users. This resulted in several interviews and coverage in The Register, Information Age, The New Statesmen, MicroScope and Computer Business Review.

4. Create compelling content and make it accessible

It’s almost becoming a PR cliché, but compelling content really can elevate your PR campaign and your brand.  The key rule here is to make sure that content has real value for your target audience – and that it is in a format that is readily accessible to them.  To support our PR campaign for Tealeaf’s Consumer Behaviour Study, we generated a campaign microsite, a downloadable white paper and a social media-friendly Slideshare presentation.

In addition to generating over 70 pieces of coverage across horizontal and vertical sectors, the Slideshare presentation generated 1,600 views in two weeks and was embedded in over 15 blog posts, the whitepaper was download over 150 times and the micro site recorded over 2,500 page views within a week.

5. Be controversial and make some noise

Finally, as every PR will tell you, the media loves a bit of controversy, so saying something juicy can be very beneficial.  With share prices to worry about, corporates often have to be very careful about what they say and when. Smaller companies rarely have this headache and should take advantage of the fact.

Our Hitting the Mark campaign for dotMailer highlighted the need for best practice in email marketing.  By ‘naming and shaming’ some of the UK’s leading retailers –  as well as giving away a major benchmark study on email marketing effectiveness – we generated strong news angles together with ammunition for sales and marketing efforts. PR coverage was widespread and hits on the website increased by 400% in a week.

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Lorraine Jenkins

Lorraine is always available to share her decades of technology PR experience with the team. As well as putting her unparalleled research and market positioning skills to use and regularly bombarding the team with industry news and trends, Lorraine is always ready to roll up her sleeves and produce hard hitting research questions or industry whitepapers to position clients as market leaders.