The old adage that ‘the customer is always right’ is something public relations professionals tell any business owner to follow.

 It doesn’t matter if that statement is true or not; it pertains to the need customers have in terms of feeling like they are respected and valued. Customers who feel as though they have a relationship with a business of any kind are more apt to continuing buying products or using services sold by the business.

 So how does a business owner solidify a relationship with customers? Well, that’s where public relations comes in.

It's all about reputation

It’s not enough to just market a business, product, or what have you. That builds awareness. What PR does is it creates credibility and builds a reputation. The goal here is to make that reputation a good one so that customers will choose one service or product over another and/or continue to use the service or product. But does it really work? According to PR Newswire’s own blog, PR provides small business with a bigger bang for their buck than advertising.

Make a plan

Coming up with a public relations plan doesn't have to break the bank, either. Many times a press release can be created by someone on the marketing staff and sent out to the media (on a local or regional level, in most cases). These are generally run in a newspaper as-is or adjusted for the style of the newspaper by the editing staff. In some cases – and this is what really makes a press release stand out – a reporter will contact the small business and ask to write an actual article.

Getting an article written by a reporter bolsters reputation because readers consider things in the newspaper to be professionally prepared and full of expert information.

 A newsletter is another PR tactic used to build reputation. The newsletter can be about anything, but should pertain to products or services offered by the company and should be available to the target market. As business owners are seen as experts in their fields, topics written about in newsletters gives readers a sense of comfort in hiring the company or purchasing a product. An email service provider is usually the best route since it allows you to focus more on the content and less on the technical details. Website Magazine has a list of the Top 50 email service providers, ranked by traffic. It’s a good place to start your research.

Keep them coming back for more

While PR isn't rocket science, it can be confusing to small businesses without a strong marketing department (or without one altogether). The biggest thing to remember is that PR is supposed to create that warm fuzzy feeling in customers so that they keep coming back for more. The more credibility a small business has the better it will do.

Keep tabs on your results

There are a number of companies like that provide free and paid services to monitor your online reputation. Take advantage of the opportunity to get feedback from the internet and get a sense of how well your efforts are paying off.  You’ll quickly discover what does and doesn’t work in your particular market.