If you’re looking to reach new clients and expand your brand, you need to learn how to use PR. Growing your VA business takes time and PR can help you build credibility throughout your VA career. 

Many small business owners though worry that effective PR is something reserved for the larger companies. However, it can be a great business tool for the smaller business too, if you learn how to effectively use it.

Here’s a breakdown on what PR is, as well as some simple strategies small business owners can use, to benefit from this great marketing tool.

What is PR?

Public relations (or PR for short) is a method of managing the information that’s broadcast about your business to other individuals. In other words, it’s designed to ensure there’s good publicity about your business online and in the world at large.

Your reputation is important and by managing what’s published about it, you’re doing what you can to control how your business looks. We all want positive media coverage and exposure. PR is a way to publish those positive things, designed to help your target audience see you in a positive way.

How to use PR effectively

However, in order to use PR effectively, you have to remember two things. Firstly, you can’t control every piece of content that’s published about your company. Secondly, PR isn’t just about what’s published and positive press – it’s also about what you say and do.

If you want to learn how to use PR effectively, you need to look at how you act in a business and personal capacity, as well as what you write – and what is written – about your business. So here are our top tips on how to use PR to build and grow your VA business.

Be authentic – but be mindful

We all want to be open and honest, as this is what makes us come across as authentic. However, there are some things you just shouldn’t share online or in public. Sharing your views about politics and religion, for example, will always be controversial. This type of conversation topic often leads to heated debates and things said that aren’t easily taken back. It’s therefore best, not to share your views on them over your social media and business profiles. To be honest, it’s probably best to keep them off your personal profiles too!

Being authentic doesn’t mean you have to be totally open about everything you think and feel. Be honest, yes, but be mindful over what you can and should share. The key is to share vulnerabilities and opinions if they’re pertinent to your business. For example, if you feel strongly about not working with particular niches or types of person, look to refer those potential clients to someone better matched to them.

Respond to comments on social media and your blog posts

If you want to use PR well, then start with how your business looks online. Responding in a timely manner to comments on social media, blog post comments, friend requests and even being respectful of those cold sales-based private messages, will all reflect on how your business is seen. And if it reflects badly, it’s going to take a lot of good PR and time, to change that image.

Support your community and niche

This isn’t just a tip for the local in-person business. As an online business owner, you’ll still be interacting and networking with other local businesses. So why not look to support your community a little more? You could donate a percentage of your profits or provide help to a local charity, as well as attend relevant local community events.

Being seen as a positive member of your niche is always a good idea, too. Look to connect and network with other VAs, guest post on sites relevant to your niche, and be visible on groups and forums for your ideal client.

Be consistent with your customer service 

How you interact with your potential, existing and past customers is an important part of PR. From how you handle complaints, right through to thanking clients for testimonials, all play a roll in good PR. It’s about handling expectation and always ensuring a high level of customer satisfaction. As it’s an essential element of your overall PR strategy, why not take a read of this recent article, entitled How to Manage Expectations & Gain High Client Satisfaction

 Your customer service needs to be courteous, respectful and top-quality – regardless of whether we’re talking about how easy your booking system is or the way you follow up with potential clients. [If you’d like more help with implementing a follow-up strategy, check out Want More Clients? Learn to Follow Up!]

Get visible and be seen as the expert

If you want to learn how to use PR effectively, you need to get visible! One of the quickest ways to grow a positive brand image is to be seen as an expert in your niche. Ensure you’re regularly creating blogs, guest posts, interviews, articles and podcasts, to help raise your visibility, calm your nerves and grow your confidence.

Help a Reporter Out

Help a Reporter Out (or HARO), is a website that provides journalists with sources they can use for upcoming stories and media coverage. If you’re looking for reporters who need sources for current media, you can also search #HARO on Twitter – there are often requests from journalists on there. You can also sign up to get regular updates and to put yourself forward as a source for reporters to get a quote and comments fast. To get more information and to sign up, go to http://www.helpareporter.com/ 

Speaking opportunities

Promoting yourself as a speaker is a great way to both grow your confidence and utilise positive PR. You can get started by creating a core list of subjects you’re comfortable talking about and then reach out to local groups, networks and niche-specific events, to see if they’d be interested in having you speak at their event. Another option is to go online – use video, Livestream, webinars, and put yourself forward as a speaker for online seminars etc. 

Actively seek and promote social proof

This is an area many business owners shy away from, but it’s a great way of gathering positive PR about your business. If someone has already given you a testimonial, look to utilise it. For example, you can share it, create a case study from it, add it to your social media profiles, and create quote graphics from it.

But you also need to be actively seeking more social proof from your existing and past clients. Have a strategy in place for reaching out. Implement automated ways of collecting positive testimonials, and make it a rule to ask if you can quote successes shared with you, during your quarterly client reviews.

Use press releases for your products and services

Press releases are a great way of sharing announcements about company changes and developments. Whenever you have a new product or service, you can create a press release for it. If you’re running a promotion or have achieved an award or nomination, share the good news in a press release. Not sure how to write a press release or where to share them? Check out Iron Clad Rules for Issuing Press Releases.

Find an angle to pitch

Whether you’re writing a press release or creating a post on social media, you always need to find an angle for that piece. For instance, for vulnerability type posts you could share why you started out in business or why you’re helping a particular niche. For an interview pitch to a local radio station, you could share how you’ve transitioned from one career to another – and why that is relevant to their audience. It’s about showing the publisher or broadcaster why you – and why their audience will care or benefit, as a result.

Focus on personal and professional development

Finally, look to work on your personal and professional development. Although this doesn’t immediately seem to be related to PR, it is! Not only will it ensure you’re the best you can be, but it also means you’re working to ensure you offer the best to your clients too. 

Any form of development will often lead to accolades you can share. Awards, shortlists, accreditations etc, are all things you can share, write and talk about in your content and in your PR materials. 

All of the tips above will help you learn how to use PR effectively. These tips will help you to both produce good publicity for your business and learn how to manage it effectively. But more than that, they serve to make you aware of how important it is to always be mindful of how you act and are seen in business – because these are things you cannot easily rewrite or redo if the need arises.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how to use PR in your VA business – so why not leave your opinions, thoughts and questions, in the comments box below. And, if you’d like to learn more about using PR in your VA business, HubSpot has an Ultimate Guide to Public Relations in 2019 whilst HatchBuck has this guide to Free & Easy Small Business PR Tactics