Public Relations is so much more than the Max Clifford/ Malcolm Tucker/ Patsy Stone way of things. As a PR professional, I often get asked by startups what PR involves and how their businesses can benefit from it. 

It's important, therefore, to keep up to date with the latest developments and best practice coming from the UK's PR industry. Which is why, a couple of weeks back, I attended #PRFest in Edinburgh, the only Public Relations festival of it's kind and one which attracts industry leaders from all over the UK.

So what pieces of advice did these pros have for businesses?

#1 The best way to protect your reputation is by behaving well in the first place.

Even those not in the PR industry will have heard of the scandal and subsequent collapse of international PR firm Bell Pottinger. The behaviour and ethics of a small contingent of its staff had consequences far beyond anything they'd probably forecast. The trick to avoid a crisis? Behave ethically. Always. It's as simple as that.

#2 When taking your business global, start with the research.

The opportunity to start exporting or to try and break into new markets can be very tempting. But without doing your research on the culture, value and behaviours of the people in those markets (your potential customers, distributers, etc) you may end up inadvertently find yourself operating at cross purposes, or offending someone.

#3 Great SEO is all about original, engaging content.

Getting links back to your site from other websites with high domain authorities isn't impossible, but it does rely on interesting, engaging and original content. From news-jacking to research to good old fashioned fun, if you come up with a creative piece of content, people will link back to it. 

#4 You should be talking to your staff, not just your customers.

'Internal communications' is about more than sending around a weekly all staff newsletter and offering free beers on a Friday so you can claim to have 'a great office culture'. Your employees can be your greatest ambassadors, and by listening to them and acting on their feedback you can build a team to take your company to the next level.

#5 Always, always have a growth mindset.

There is nothing that you cannot do. You might not be able to do it yet, but you can do it if you commit to learning how. Entrepreneurs have to stay curious and have to continuously look for ways to learn. No one is born an expert at product development, finance, HR, marketing and the 101 other things you need to know about when starting to grow your startup. What separates those that succeed from those that fail is having the right mindset.

#6 Your people are your greatest assets.

Train them well, encourage them to have ideas, offer progression opportunities. Take on interns and commit to providing them with an opportunity for real work (not just tea runs and sorting out the filing backlog). Finally, celebrate your teams wins - show them you value the work they do.

#7 Be honest and be transparent.

From the start of a customer or client relationship, to the point where you go your separate ways, you should aim to be totally honest and totally transparent. Even if you mess up - the best thing to do is to 'fess up quickly and work on fixing your mistake (everyone makes them) rather than try to hide it or make excuses.

There you have it. 7 top tips on growing your business from startup to world domination, according to the PR pros. If you need support with your PR strategy, our Business Support team can help. Get in touch to find out if you're eligible for a fully-funded PR strategy plus media outreach.