By Jennifer Lewis
The 2023 holiday season is soon among us, and while consumers are busy planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is one important shopping day that should not be discounted: Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting and promoting small, locally-owned businesses to help them compete with large retailers and online giants during the busiest consumer shopping season of the year. While local chambers of commerce, business associations, and private small businesses offer special promotions, discounts, and even events to attract customers, PR can play a significant role in targeting new audiences and increasing sales for many of these local shops, which are often the backbone of a community’s economy.
PR efforts can significantly help small businesses gain visibility with local reporters and within their target audiences. This may include securing news coverage, brand features, or interviews in local newspapers, magazines, or via TV or radio. Earned media support can result in more potential customers discovering the business. If a small business is seeking investments or funding, a strong PR strategy can make the company more attractive to potential investors, proving the business can manage its reputation and is well-prepared to scale and grow.
Credibility and Trust.
Getting featured in reputable media outlets or receiving positive reviews from bloggers or influencers can significantly impact a small business’s credibility and trustworthiness. Consumers often have faith in third-party endorsements over traditional advertising, giving PR an advantage in growing brand awareness. Additionally, to complement building credibility and trust, PR drives small businesses in being more transparent and authentic, by communicating honestly, addressing company issues, and sharing a clear mission. As such, small businesses will begin to foster trust with their consumer base, attracting an audience base that will be loyal to a business they have confidence in.
Public relations can help small businesses leverage partnerships by facilitating connections and nurturing collaborations. Partnerships with more prominent brands reach a wider audience and enhance credibility. For instance, in 2017, before WeWork was a household name, the small business partnered with AirBnB to ensure business travelers renting out AirBnB spaces had the means to conduct business. WeWork gave special discounts to AirBnB customers, allowing them to book a desk space, utilize conference rooms, and access other essential office amenities while on the road. PR teams from both businesses worked together to promote the partnership, resulting in significant media coverage and happy travelers who amped the credibility of both brands during the partnership period.
Word of Mouth.
The old fashioned word-of-mouth marketing is often jump-started through local and social media coverage, resulting in enhanced brand awareness. When potential customers witness local companies and organizations obtain positive press, they are likelier to conduct business with the brand, and recommend it within the community. In fact, 64 percent of marketers believe word-of-mouth marketing, usually boosted through earned media, is the most effective form of marketing. Research has also shown that over 55 percent of consumers have discovered a new brand or company through word-of-mouth, mainly thanks to social media. Lastly, 40 percent of those consumers purchased a service or product after discovering it through word-of-mouth marketing. While PR is not the only component that drives word-of-mouth, it’s a leading factor in ensuring a business gets the proper awareness and reaches relevant audiences.
Overall, PR is pivotal in helping small businesses thrive and stand out in competitive markets. By strategically crafting and disseminating their brand stories, companies can engage with targeted audiences, and build credibility and trust. Small businesses can utilize PR to punch above their weight and create a lasting positive impression. Whether through thought leadership, community engagement, or effective crisis management, PR empowers small businesses to differentiate themselves, gain visibility, and ultimately succeed in their endeavors.