188 Something to shout about? There are many useful tools to help spread the word about your business, whether it’s through engaging social media, distinctive marketing materials or a brilliant advertising campaign. One area that is often overlooked is public relations, perhaps because the term itself confuses people. However, PR is exactly as it sounds – managing how you are perceived by the public, whether that’s customers and competitors from within your industry or the people in your local craft community. PR uses below-the-line marketing, which means that whoever is choosing to write up your piece, interview you or review your product is doing so because they believe it is worth talking about. Editorial coverage often reads as a recommendation and objective accounts can be deemed more trustworthy and organic, which will work in your favour. TELLING A STORY That’s not to say that marketing and advertising strategies should be abandoned, and PR is by no means free. It can complement and support your company’s other initiatives in a completely different way. Great ideas, successful storytelling and eye-catching photos take time and effort but when done correctly, can make a huge difference. PR is great for promoting your messages and bolstering brand awareness. Core customers might know and love your products but stories about the personal achievements of your staff, business milestones and charity support will make your fans feel like they know your company and your brand. It will strengthen these existing relationships in addition to creating new ones with journalists, peers and your local community. Now more than ever, customers want to know that they are choosing to buy from a credible source. This covers subjects like the company’s values, its corporate social responsibility initiatives and work culture, how it treats its employees and its environmental impact. Reputation is everything and consumers want to know that the brand they’re choosing to spend their money with is worth it, and rightly so. If you’re proud of what your business is doing to champion important issues, distributing an engaging, interesting press release is a great way to spread those messages. PUBLIC IMAGE Shaping a likeable image is key and it’s probably true to say that many businesses aren’t shouting about why they are great when they absolutely are. Creating publicity now and again is one thing but consistent exposure will ensure that your company maintains this visibility. It’s a great way to position yourself in front of your target audience, in addition to potential new customers. Your presence and your profile in the media could prove very attractive to prospective clients. Lastly, good PR can be used as an excellent recruitment tool to attract new staff. If you distribute a story about someone who has been with the business since it started, and has been there 20 years since, it will give the reader the impression that your business is good to work for. Similarly, news detailing your innovative approach to flexible working, investments in improving office workspaces and recruitment drives for people to join your growing team will speak for themselves. PR allows you to shine a spotlight on your company. Chances are, you have a number of things that people would love to hear about so why not invest some time in sharing your success? When it comes to public relations, let your success do the talking, says Sara Davies Sara Davies MBE is founder of Crafter’s Companion.