In today’s competitive brick and mortar and digital marketplaces, a strong public relations strategy has never been more important for small businesses.

As the social web expands and the power of consumers continues to grow, small businesses that want stay relevant, attract customers and retain their loyal followings must find new, compelling ways of communicating their brand messages. However, due to limited resources, many small businesses don’t have the money to spend on expensive advertising campaigns yet still need the exposure to survive and gain a competitive edge. As a result, more and more small business owners are turning to public relations to help raise brand awareness and to achieve their growth objectives.

Today’s PR firms offer a wide variety of tools and services that can be customized to fit small business owners’ needs. From press kits to media contacts to online reputation management, small businesses are hiring public relations specialists and adopting communications strategies to help tell their stories, boost their visibility, and meaningfully engage with consumers local stores and online.

When it comes to building trust and credibility, PR is king. In a world where people (especially Millennials and Gen Z consumers) don’t necessarily trust traditional advertising, public relations experts are using content marketing, social media and event and web-based strategies to power marketing for small businesses by putting people at the center of their brands.

As more people adopt smartphones and join social networks, a multi-pronged crisis communication and reputation management strategy is critical for small businesses’ long-term success. Public relations pros who specialize in these areas employ social listening and issues management strategies to help small businesses form deeper relationships with consumers and encourage transparency, favoring a dialogue over a close-ended, one-way conversation.

More small business owners are realizing the necessity and benefits of digital marketing and thus, public relations is moving to the forefront of their strategies. Public relations specialists are helping small businesses adapt to the demands of hyper-connected consumers and teaching them how to use social listening and analytics tools to understand and engage their target audiences while also identifying potential threats and opportunities in today’s ever-changing digital landscape.

At the end of the day, PR empowers small business owners to think before they take action, tell better brand stories, and ultimately gain credibility both on and offline.