PR 101 for start-ups and small businesses

6 years ago

Marlin PRBy Julia Nightingale of Marlin PR, a technology, media and entertainment PR agency based in London.

Q: What is PR?

In short, good PR can make your business. Bad PR can break it.

“Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you… Public relations practice is the discipline that looks after reputation with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour.” Institute of Public Relations

Marketing vs. Advertising vs. PR

Q: What can it do for my business?

  • Help establish what you want your key audiences to know and feel about your brand
  • Articulate messages & source evidence to build & tell the brand story
  • Prepare spokespeople to deliver those messages
  • Target & persuade the target audience to think or behave differently
  • Help you expand into new markets, reach new customers & generate new leads
  • Launch new products, propositions & services to drive sales & trials
  • Tackle crises quickly & efficiently to manage sensitive business issues

Q: How can I get started?

  • Ask questions. And listen to responses. What is the market opportunity? Where are there gaps? Where does your business fit? What are the current challenges?
  • Define your Elevator Pitch – what makes you different to the competition? What makes you stand out to journalists? What is your reason for being?
  • Power of relationships – social, press, customers, staff, and competition – you name it. Understand & engage all those interested in your business, identify those who have the power to make a positive & negative impact
  • Getting social – conversations around your brand, business issues, customers, products will happen whether you like it or not. Get involved in the debate
  • Build your assets – case studies, testimonials, stories & proof points

PR in practise

There are many PR tactics you can employ – and here are just a few of them. It is essential to understand what your goal is, who you are trying to reach & how best to target them with the right message, and the right distribution channel.


  • Research the audience. What does the journalist, analyst or external influencer want from you & ensure you meet their needs. Show you understand their beat
  • Establish PR objectives & goals – what are you trying to achieve? Who are you trying to reach?
  • Create a set of key messages & then weave them through everything you do
  • Stay on top of the news agenda – what is going on in the media that affects your business? Your customers?
  • Have an opinion – be confident, calm & considered
  • Be consistent


  • Assume journalists know as much as you do. They might be new to a beat – be a source of information for them
  • Do PR for PR’s sake – what is the business value from PR? What is the commercial impact?
  • Over-promise – journalists are like elephants; they never forget!
  • Lie, embellish, fabricate, fluff or criticise the competition. Trust us, it’s not worth it!
  • Forget that you are a representative of the brand – nothing is ever off the record…

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on Public Relations” Bill Gates, creator of Microsoft (and the richest man in the world… for the 2nd time)!

Try Sage One for FREE

If you’re starting or growing a small business, take a look at our Sage One Cashbook, Accounts and Payroll software and sign up for a FREE 30 day trial by clicking on the buttons below.