With the world on edge dealing with the repercussions of a global health pandemic, a call for systemic changes and unemployment rates at record highs, it seems more people are looking towards starting their own business. When laid off, made redundant or simply not being able to work, the opportunity to start a business from a long-time passion project is tempting and can bring in some much-needed income for many households.

PR Consult has helped businesses, large and small, with their communication activities – from communications strategy to key messaging to press releases. (We provide communication services that fit any budget and needs, but I digress!)

While it may be tempting for a small business to introduce themselves to the world (or their community) through a press release, or media release, it is rarely the first place to start. So where does a small business owner begin when it comes to promoting itself to help raise its profile and preferably get more business?

The short answer to that question is: start with your basics.

Just like any business, you need to prepare, research and act on your communications activities just as much as you would any other aspect of the business. Below are three tips for small businesses when planning on embarking upon a Public Relations and Communications initiative. We gave the following three tips to small business owners in Edmonton, AB (Canada), last year at a local entrepreneurial event but have updated the information considering today’s economic climate.


  • Develop Your Messages. In a previous PR Consult blog post, we talked about the necessity of developing your Key Messages. Your Key Messages are essential to all your communication activities because they help you, your clients and your staff understand your tone and positioning in your industry. The Key Messages are what your clients and customers will remember about you.

Your Key Messages are what is said across your many customer touch-points. If you have not taken the time to develop your messages, how do you know what you are going to say to them? It’s like having to make a 30-minute technical presentation and not outlining any speaking notes. Your Key Messages are used in your marketing campaigns, your customer newsletters, your website, your direct mailings, your social media content and your media releases. Develop your Key Messages to ensure your whole company is saying the same thing to help reach your business objectives.


  • Be Brand Consistent. Consistency helps people remember your company, products and services more readily. By being consistent throughout your communication, you continually reinforce what you do, what you stand for and how you can help at different touchpoints. Consistency needs to be in your written messages, imagery and service. If you want to be remembered for great customer service, then ensure you are reinforcing that message at every turn – from your sales staff to your return/exchange policies.

Not only should you be consistent with your Key Messaging through your various communication channels, but you also need to be consistent with your brand at every level. For example, if you are communicating in your messages that your company is eco-friendly, ensure all aspects of your company are eco-friendly. Your branding needs to be consistent from the top, down and vice-versa.

Very often, businesses fall into the trap of saying one thing but doing another which leads us to our last Public Relations tip for small business.


  • Prepare For Crisis. A crisis can hit your company at any time. Sadly, it is a question of when, not if. That is why it is essential to prepare for your crisis ahead of time to help minimize any damage to your reputation you have spent weeks, months and years developing. Crises are often covered by media and even the most seasoned Public Relations professional cannot make the story simply “go away.” We can help you mitigate the crisis and get your messages on the record.

 A crisis means that you will have to drop everything else to deal with the emergency at hand. Not only does this take you and your team away from other issues but also discourages current and future customers from doing business with you. A crisis can range from an unhappy customer to a disruption in your production to an employee death. Your reputation needs to be protected by managing and preparing for a crisis.

Sometimes the crisis will catch you off guard and was not preventable but, in our experience, most crises were smaller issues that could have been prevented. You can do that by monitoring any issues along the way. For example, if you receive a number of complaints from customers regarding your return policies, perhaps it is time to review those policies based on current demands and industry standards before complaints escalate. It only takes one unhappy customer to raise the issue on social media to have the issue snowball into a full-blown crisis. In short, prepare, prepare, prepare for a crisis to your business.


Your overall Public Relations and Communications strategy needs to be in line with your business strategy. They should not be regarded as an unknown art form or black magic, nor should it be handled on the sidelines as an afterthought to your business. Not only does your communications strategy help you develop your marketing activities, but it also supports your business development, internal communications and small business loan applications you may be making.

Many small businesses may forget to develop a communications plan, but you now know that you should develop your Key Messages at a minimum to help you position yourself and help others understand what your company does, be consistent with your messages and prepare to defend your reputation.