If you have a small business that is innovative then you may be the first in your field to create a business. That’s called being ‘disruptive’.
That’s what I did when I started teaching people how to do their own PR back in 2010 via my website at Handle Your Own Pr.
At the time there was just one other person in the same game – Sue Papadoulis and her business Publicity for Profit – only Sue was doing it at live events and I wanted to do it online.
It was scary and exciting to do something no one else was doing. But then some other people got the same idea and suddenly there were a few people doing the same thing. But rather than freaking out and holding all my cards close to my chest – I celebrated.
Why celebrate my competition?
Well there are a number of reasons why I was happy to see others come to the same party. The first one was purely selfish. It validated my idea! It showed that the gap in the market that I had identified was spotted by other people too. It was real. It meant that I wasn’t crazy – other people could see the potential too.
Since then there has been a proliferation of PR coaches and mentors for small businesses. Some have lasted, some have folded but it’s a growing sector overall, not a shrinking one. And now there are a few of us, awareness is growing within the small business market. That’s another bonus that comes along with competition.
And then there’s the ‘keeping ahead of the competition’ motivation that others, who are doing similar things, brings with it. You have to stay on your toes, you have to keep ahead of the pack and you have to be clear about what you are offering, the benefits it can bring your customers and then try to differentiate yourself.
Handle Your Own PR is the only business offering online courses, media contact lists and insider information via video interviews with journalists and producers. We provide the full gamut. But I can’t stop there. I need to continually innovate and add new products and services to stay relevant. And it’s fun to do that whilst keeping an eye on your competitors and what they are up to.
How to make the most of competition
In the spirit of ‘embracing your competitors’, I like to reach out to them too. I want to see if there is some way we can complement each other. I became great friends with Bec Derrington, the founder of Sourcebottle when she launched her business around the same time as me.
Now I like to sing the praises of that site to all my clients and students. The same goes for Press Loft and now I have just discovered Prize Pig and it is another brilliant resource for people who want free media coverage and don’t have much moolah.
I have also started discussions with the clever Leila Henderson of Newsmaker as she can offer media release distribution to those people that just don’t have the time to send their media releases out – and if they have a bit of money – Leila’s business can do that bit for them. Of course, in my ideal world people would do it themselves but Newsmaker is a great alternative for those that otherwise wouldn’t get their story out there.
Sue Papadoulis and I worked together in the early days to grow the DIY PR sector. We could offer her students the media contacts they needed, and she could offer them the education they needed first.
I recently became friends with the lovely Jessica Evans who is an ex-journalist who also wants to teach small businesses how to get media attention through her business, the Media Institute. We are now talking about ways we can complement each other’s businesses.
There is always room for more competition
We are not going to run out of potential customers by having other players in the market. There are plenty to go around. And by working with your potential enemies, you can learn, grow and expand.
I firmly believe that PR is the best choice for any small business that is starting up on a shoe string. If you don’t have much money for marketing, then why not target the media and get free media coverage?
It makes sense. And now there are loads of ways people can learn to harness the power of the media. And they are all good!
Although mine is still the best! Hee hee… (did I say that?!)
Jules Brooke is the Founder and Director of Handle Your Own PR, and teaches start ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners how to get free media coverage for their business. Jules is passionate about helping others get awareness for their business in the most cost effective way and firmly believes PR is the way to go! Jules is also a connector and ideas chic!