Q: I own a florist shop. What are some PR ideas I can use that are more suited for a small retailer vs. a big business?
A: That's a great question. So many times we think of the big PR firms working with big businesses, while the rest of us try to come up with our own PR angles. PR for the retail world is a little different than PR for the service or manufacturing world, although there are many common characteristics. The goal is still to get the word out about your business and your products or services.
With a retail business, you want your "news" or PR information to appeal to consumers, not necessarily other businesses or investors. Consumers are usually attracted to retail businesses because of something they've heard or seen. They could have been referred, they might have responded to a coupon, or perhaps they drove by and saw your sign. Using PR to enhance all these things is the key to spreading the word and getting more business.
Florist shops, and really any retail business, have the advantage of being able to tie into holidays. The spirit of gift-giving does wonders for retail gift buying and marketing, and there's always an event to tie into. Doing something unique--above and beyond just a standard gift-giving theme--will further accelerate PR. Special-interest articles on relevant topics--such as "The History of Valentine's Day" or "How the Christmas Poinsettia Came to Be So Popular"--can provide newsworthy angles. Feeding the news community with this information positions your business not only as the resource for information related to holidays, but also as the place to shop for the respective gifts.
Other PR strategies perfect for retailers are those related to events or contests. The event could be an open house, or a "meet the expert," "meet the mayor" or "meet the press" event. Contests could be simple things, such as guessing the number of roses in a car or predicting the day the last petal will fall off the rose. Another idea might be for customers to come in and guess the flower by its smell and get 25 percent off their order. These suggestions may sound corny, but hopefully they'll get your imaginative juices flowing.
Since we're discussing the florist business here, a how-to session is another newsworthy PR event. Classes on flower arranging, flower pressing, rose garden growing and so on come to mind. These can be listed in the newspaper's list of community events, getting your name in front of prospective customers.
Community and philanthropic events are newsworthy, too. For example, get the word out that for every rose purchased for Valentine's Day, your business will donate one dollar to the American Heart Association. Or let customers know if your business is donating flowers to the local church for the 100th Sunday in a row.
Establishing relationships with local reporters and editors will enhance your opportunity to turn these newsworthy ideas into published news. Just like any other PR, making your story, information or event as newsworthy as possible will get editors' attention and separate you from a "me too" competitor. This type of PR, however, is just one marketing weapon and should supplement all the other marketing you do at the same time. For instance, supplement your PR efforts with signage, radio ads, newspaper ads, Yellow Pages advertising, displays, coupons, sales, packaging and overwhelming customer service.
At the end of the day, good PR will come from the very basics of all PR--whether that business is retail-, manufacturing-, service- or nonprofit-oriented. Those basics are the press release, a newsworthy angle to a story and a relationship with an editor. Marketing is made up of many, many things--and one of those things is simple PR.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.com and http://www.1-800-inkwell.com, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.