Whether you’re just starting a business or have a long-standing corporation, public relations can really make an impact for your brand. Creating a partnership with a public relations expert can strengthen your presence in your community, and launch your name into your competition’s atmosphere. Before you begin your P.R. search, it’s important to understand why you should invest in the first place.
Andy Shearer, Publicist for ForbesBooks, explains that unless you’re living off the land, making your own clothes, and churning your own butter, you’re living in a world of exchange.
“You exchange goods and services for money,” he says, “That’s business. But how do you draw consumers to your business? Publicity and Marketing are your first line of offense. Publicity leads to recognition. Recognition leads to credibility. Credibility leads to sales.”
P.R. comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be as big or small, as expensive or budget-friendly as you can imagine (which is great for startups or those wanting to dip their toes in the P.R. pool). Have information about your field that you think your community would be interested in? Call your local radio station and volunteer to provide free advice to callers. Write a letter to your local paper. Create a fun event for your community and invite the local paper – or take the photos and send them to your local media yourself. Create a Facebook or Twitter contest. Partner with your local media for a giveaway of your services. With a little bit of money, you can even start a scholarship at your local school and let the media know about it.
“Be outrageous. Be thought-provoking. Be philanthropic,” states Shearer.
But remember that P.R. is just the first step. Take the results of your first outreach attempt and spread it amongst your social media. Ask friends to share the news on their social media as well.
When you’re ready to start the search for a P.R. firm, remember that firms can certainly help, but make sure you hire one that has a proven history within your particular field. Being a good publicist is like being a good doctor.
“You don’t want a podiatrist working on your liver. Same with publicists,” explains Shearer. “Find one who excels in your field!”
Is a P.R. firm really worth the investment? Well, the answer really depends on your budget. P.R. is not a science. Anybody who promises you a guarantee of publicity is only out for your monthly retainer.
“Don’t trust them,” says Shearer. “But, as a publicist, I implore you to be patient and understanding. Reputations are built slowly and publicity is just one tactic.”
Media has the power to influence. That’s why the majority of people read reviews before they go to a movie. For a successful business, it can’t be ignored. And it doesn’t just happen because you’re the bomb – you have to make it happen. It’s frustrating and, more often than not, fruitless but it is absolutely necessary to invest in some P.R. to build your business.