What is public relations (PR) and is it something that all businesses can use? Is it something that as a business owner you or your staff can do or does it need to be outsourced to a professional?
The answer to all of these questions is… ‘it depends’. I know that’s not a very satisfying answer, so let’s explore it a little further so you can see where PR might fit in with your business.
Businesses use PR to achieve three key things:
In a word, no.
To achieve media exposure, you need to have a newsworthy story. For example, just opening a new business doesn’t cut it.
If you were opening a business and all the takings on the first day were being donated to a local charity, or you had a celebrity signing autographs on the day, then you are starting to become more newsworthy.
PR can deliver amazing results for your investment.
You might achieve up to 10 or 20 times the exposure of an advertisement by appearing in a news article.
If successful, media activity can provide greater bang for your buck than advertising. It also can deliver fast results if your story is picked up by multiple media outlets.
There are no guarantees with PR.
The media is approached, but there is no guarantee that they will run with your story. But it is a PR consultant’s goal to improve the chances of your story being told.
It is common for news articles in both print, online and TV to get cut at the last minute.
For a business, this means you end up with nothing for your investment. The work has been done, but there is no result for you.
READ: When good PR goes bad
You can certainly have a crack at doing your own PR and like any marketing your success will depend on your skills, your product, your ability to communicate and your tenacity.
The process of contacting the media is done via a media release, which then needs to be followed up usually by email or telephone.
At best, it can take a day of your time. At worst, it can take all of your time.
Going with a professional can increase your chances of success because they are more experienced. As a small business owner, you can develop these skills for yourself if you have the interest and the time available.
The biggest difference is that when you use a professional they bring expertise and finesse that many business owners haven’t got.
A PR professional has the training, experience and know-how that make them more efficient than you.
They are more likely to get greater results than you doing it by yourself. That is what you are paying for.
The skills that a good PR agency brings to their job largely fall into four areas:
Working in the field and talking to media outlets everyday means PR consultants know what’s hot and what’s not. They also know the format in which the media like to receive the information.
This saves time by pitching stories that are more likely to get a response.
It can be very difficult to craft a story about our business by ourselves.
Publicists and PR consultants have great skill in finding appropriate angles that bring out the best in your businesses and that will attract the attention of the media and their audiences.
This means journalists are more likely to take a PR consultant’s call and read their media releases.
It may be harder for you to reach the people you need to. On occasion media outlets make direct contact with PR agencies to see if they have any stories around a particular theme.
By engaging a well-known PR consultant or agency, you may find opportunities arise that wouldn’t otherwise present themselves.
One strategy to get known is to hook up with an influencer. This is someone that represents a highly relevant and engaged audience within your target market, and who can likely influence those individuals to consider your brand.
PR agencies are able to make contact and make this happen.
Now you’ve got some information that can help you decide whether you need a PR agency or whether you can have a go yourself.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lean startup or have been established in business for a while, it’s always worth exploring all marketing options to find the one that’s best suited to your business right now.
It might just be PR.