Small or large budgets, if used creatively, can garner the right type of attention.
Many small to medium-sized businesses seem to think social media is all they need to give them profile when starting out. What else helps expose a brand?
The right way involves fully understanding your target market and working from there. If you deduce that Twitter is one of the best ways of reaching your audience, for example, it is not just a matter of bombarding people with tweets about how fantastic your product or service is. A better way of approaching it is building a Twitter "personality" - engaging someone in your business who can create messaging that captures the imagination of people who read witty things all day long. Build a following of interested tweeps. Link all your channels to your Twitter feed. Create messages that enhance your reputation as a thought leader in your industry or field.
As for other ways of building profile, there are many. Budgets from small to large, if used creatively, can garner the right type of attention.
There are a multitude of trade publications, for example, that will deliver a brand message directly to a discreet (but highly interested) market. Writing opinion pieces, letters to the editor, chipping in on open forums, even making submissions to Parliament will get your message out there - if it is within your field of expertise, and you have something genuine and worthwhile to add.
What local examples are there of small businesses with big profiles?
The likes of Huffer (think Orlando Bloom product placement at the Lord of the Rings premier), The French Cafe and its awards platform, and Fisher Funds, for which Carmel Fisher is an expert commentator, have all leveraged their brand stories into a wider conversation.
A public floatation can be very good for profile, if you look at Xero and Moa Beer. Would you recommend this?
Floats do raise profile, but from my perspective that is more about the company having a great story to tell - a story that connects with investors and a story that they want to be part of. Often this type of story has as much to do with tugging on the heartstrings as promising to make investors a lot of money - ideally you will have both. But there is a huge amount of paperwork and rules and regulations around a float and so it's not something we would advise just in order to raise profile.
A better strategy goes back to the first question: letting the world know about your expertise in your chosen field. Being a company, manager or owner with a point of view and being sought out for advice and comment on those matters when it is required. All business decisions that involve expansion, acquisitions and success should be publicised. But if something is going on in the wider world that your business also has a vested interest in, you might consider putting that out there as well.
Nikki Wright runs Wright Communications and is a Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) member.