For small business owners who would like more publicity, there are several options which don’t cost too much – yet will require time and effort to build a process. Your case studies, featuring your clients, can be a great way to share new and interesting stories. So when your clients are happy and willing, you can work together to get more publicity.
Janet Murray, who runs the Soulful PR Studio, held a webinar last week looking at how to create a PR strategy in 30 minutes, which reminded me how to keep the process simple and consistent for producing case studies with clients. Here are my top tips for smaller businesses to create and share their stories:
Be clear about the objectives: why do you want more publicity?
Is it to become recognised as an individual expert in your field?
Do you want to raise awareness of the company name and brand values?
Are you looking to integrate PR with a wider marketing campaign to grow the number of enquiries?
Do you have loyal clients to recommend your products and services, to demonstrate what you can do?
Ultimately, if you’re spending time and money on publicity, you’ll need to track how it contributes to more sales. This will take time and consistent effort, so choosing your strategy will help you plan how to keep going and get your team to help you.
Set up a PR process which works for a small business
To get more publicity, you’ll need a PR process to involve the people who contact your clients every day, either in sales or customer service roles.
A regular PR meeting
Help your team to put on a temporary ‘marketing’ hat, with a short meeting to discuss publicity opportunities every month. You can tell the team what you’re aiming for – and talk about the best ways to encourage happy clients to get involved. You need two or three people thinking proactively, to spot which clients may have similar goals to grow their brand and get more publicity. While speaking to clients on the phone or in person, they can check how happy these clients are with the service your business provides. If they are willing to talk about the results achieved, it’s a win-win situation to write up a case study.
Frequently asked questions
In any business providing services and expertise, clients will often ask questions. It’s worth keeping a log of these queries – they are useful in so many ways and once you’ve given the answer, you or the team may need to find it for the next person. Over time, you can build up a series of case studies and articles which answer the most common questions – providing plenty of material to plan publicity and drive inbound website traffic via blogs, helpful downloads, and email marketing.
Content schedule or editorial calendar
A calendar is most often used for keeping track of key events and a schedule for social media, however, it’s also important for your publicity plans. It takes 2-3 weeks to develop a client case study (sometimes much longer, if people are busy!) and if you want to share it with the press for a particular date, journalists will need the story 4-6 weeks in advance.
People to help
As a business leader, there isn’t time for you to do everything. To keep your publicity efforts consistent, you need several different skill sets involved. These will include:
Someone to manage the plan and talk to the customer facing team regularly.
Someone who is a good writer and understands search engine optimisation to produce the content.
Someone to develop good contacts with the press and share your stories.
Someone to organise your news stories and case studies online and archive them when out of date.
If you can allocate a reasonable budget to it, a PR agency will, of course, cover all of those. If you hire a freelancer or copy writer, check which parts they are happy to do for you – and which you will need to manage internally. Ad-hoc PR efforts might go to waste if you don’t stick to a plan, however, with the right support, you can get a positive flow of publicity over time.
Sign off by all the people involved
People are busy and signing off your case study is usually a low priority. Giving people dates and setting expectations in advance can help – and let them know who else will need to read it and agree the words.
Once written up, a case study can be presented in many different formats – video, email attachment and printable format – to hand out at meetings, or events after you’ve shared it with press contacts. To extend the reach of your published articles, it helps to support your PR efforts with regular social media posts on similar topics. Overall, case studies are great way to prove how you can help your ideal clients to achieve their goals and the publicity will benefit both of you.
Contact me if you’d like to review the opportunities for more client case studies. Or visit Case Study Ninja for more information on creating, storing and sharing your case studies.