PR is an invaluable marketing tool that offers free positive publicity for your business.
It can be described as the process of taking charge of when, how and what you communicate. By using PR effectively, you can influence the behaviours, attitude and perception of your customers and potential customers.
All businesses automatically passively give off signals which others will pick up on but there is no need to just be a bystander – PR enables you to proactively communicate the messages you want consumers to hear.
You can already see that the media is full of stories about other businesses. So why not take action to get your company in the spotlight and influence the way you are viewed by others? Notice that here I’ve used the word ‘stories.’ Having something to say in terms of your personal history or experiences is what attracts the media to publishing your Press Releases or articles. They also need ‘expertise’ pieces and specialists to interview about current issues and to give opinions. PR is about telling a story or giving advice and information. It is not about just advertising your latest product and trying to dress this up as a Press Release to avoid paying hefty advertising costs. PR is about communicating, creating a positive image and building relationships with those that are important to you.
Coverage in the media can help raise awareness about your business and significantly increase your company’s credibility. It is part of a whole suite of marketing tools and can be used in tandem with others such as advertising. How impressed will others be if they see you in the Newspaper or hear you on A Radio Programme? Media Coverage will help customers and potential customers see your knowledge and expertise and will influence attitudes. Those important to you will understand more about your business through PR and many will determine that if the Newspaper or Radio Show was happy to feature you then you must be a trustworthy business which they can have confidence in. Coverage effectively gives you third party endorsement. Some describe PR as ‘earned’ media whilst advertising is ‘paid’ media. Consumers are much more likely to make a purchase based on the recommendation of others including the media rather than just by looking at an advert. PR isn’t just you saying how great you are, which is what an advert does, it is the media saying how great you are.
The current climate is in fact excellent for PR. Many publications have reduced their permanent staff and without salaried journalists and writers they need even more input from others including PR agencies and publicists to generate content and fill space. They still have the same column inches to fill but fewer reporters to do this with, so they need and usually welcome our help.
In addition the Internet and dot.com era mean that there are huge opportunities to secure online publicity. The Internet offers unparalleled opportunities for communicating, influencing and keeping communities and stakeholders informed of your brand, business or organisation. The goal of this newer form of PR, much like traditional PR is identifying, understanding and communicating with those communities or stakeholders that are affected by or have an effect on you or your organisation. The differentiator of this new approach however lies in engaging communities, customers, etc in conversations directly.
Further, when potential customers carry out searches about products or services they want to buy, if they discover links to features about you in newspapers and magazines these will have a positive influence on their perception of your credibility and make you stand apart from others. In these articles you will also be telling them much more about your company and perhaps yourself than can be conveyed on a business card or in an advertisement and this will help to differentiate you from your competition.
You may have an excellent website or premises and that’s important, but you need to attract people to come and look and getting some key messages and stories out about you in the media, will help to drive traffic to your website or shop etc and help grow your business faster.
Indeed a sustained PR campaign can give you visibility which makes your company appear larger and more established than it may be. This can help secure partnerships, customers and funding because peoples perception of your business is heightened.
So what are the advantages of hiring a PR professional instead of trying to do your own PR?
PR professionals have established contacts, know what the media is looking for and can strategically seek out opportunities for your company. They can work in a cost effective manner to achieve the best results. PR is time consuming and involves a lot of follow up with contacts on a regular basis. Business owners trying to do their own PR can find that they just don’t have the time to do it themselves and indeed that it’s not best use of their skills and time. Hiring a PR specialist allows a business owner to use their valuable time to focus on running their business and generating a profit, while the PR agent can work on media.
PR is generally less expensive than advertising and is certainly a sound investment if you choose to work with a professional who has a high level of expertise and low overheads. If you do not think you will have regular news flows then it is more likely to be cost effective to work with a consultant or sole proprietor than a large agency. Look at their past record and the type of clients they have represented or currently work with and consider whether this aligns with your business. If you choose the right PR partner, you can build your brand effectively and enjoy growth while keeping your focus on the operational needs of your business.
Susan Brookes-Morris (www.positivepublicity.biz) is passionate about raising the profile of individuals and businesses that make a positive difference to our lives. She offers a full range of PR services and works with all forms of media to obtain publicity for her clients.
This blog is part of our Mummy Mentoring Month series – Mums helping mums helping mums. To find out more about the Mummy mentoring month initiative and how you could get involved please go to Mummy Mentoring Month. Please share this blog widely on facebook and twitter.