The Importance of Public Relations for Small Business Owners
Many small business owners with whom I talk simply don’t see the need for public relations – much less the need to hire an agency to represent them. I often hear small business owners say “I don’t need you, I write my own press releases!” That’s great, but if you consider “public relations” to just be writing a press release then you are probably missing 90% of the value.
The fact is, almost any small business can receive a positive return on investment if they manage their expectations and budget accordingly. Unlike advertising, you can’t dictate where, when, what and how often your message will be delivered. Public Relations is many things, but it is NOT “Free Ads.” Instead, one should view it as the ultimate “word of mouth.” Instead of one happy customer telling 10 of her friends, today’s Internet media can reach MILLIONS of people in a single day!
This is a great thing if you have confidence in your brand and patience with reporters who may have never heard of you, your company, products or even your new business concept. Ultimately, if you can sell the idea to an individual reporter he will talk about it – to his readers, co-workers and his friends at the TV station on the other side of town.
The long term benefits of public relations are what really create value. Unlike advertising, public relations campaigns aren’t always powerful immediately, nor do its effects fade once the campaign is over. Good press will last for months and years. It will also help defend your company from negative things that may come up. Additionally, positive press and public image can also generate increased awareness, leading to even more coverage … without you even lifting a finger!
For example, if you put a banner advertisement on a site that features a review of your competitor’s product, your message is delivered and that’s great. But what about two weeks or six months later when that advertising campaign is over? Your competitor’s review is still there … building value for their brand.
So what can a business owner do and, if she should hire someone, what should they help her with?
Anyone with time to spend, the ability to write clearly and speak English well can:
1. Write a press release
2. Write a letter to the editor of their local papers and trade media
3. Answer the phone when a reporter calls
4. Quickly and concisely provide the information the reporter needs.
Additionally, with access to the internet, most people can also research the contact info for national and regional media. Or they can use a service like PR Web to quickly, cheaply and easily send out a press release.
So why do you need a public relations agency if you can write a press release and talk to the media all by yourself?
The answer is simple; because a professional can usually do it better – generating more positive results quicker, with less mistakes.
A public relations agent can:
1.Provide access to pre-existing contacts, PR tools and media databases
2.Provide an outside perspective – and the ability to suggest new ways of promoting the company, products, and services. I once had an article in the Financial Times and my boss called me in and demanded to know why I was “wasting my time” with, “some paper he had never heard of!”
3.Work with the business owner to maximize opportunities such as holidays, pop-culture news, or even political events.
4.Construct and polish pitches that are tailored to individual media and reporters.
5.Provide the experience of knowing what will and what won’t work – so that you make less mistakes. Good PR agents have already made and (hopefully) learned from their mistakes!
6.Help when the business owner simply doesn’t have the time to do it herself.
If you want more information concerning the importance of Public Relations for small business, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
-Article written by James Hill
Posted on July 24, 2009, in prominence marketing group, Public Relations, small business and tagged Keisha McCotry, prominence marketing group, Public Relations, small business. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.