“So, what exactly is PR?” is a question every PR pro is all too familiar with (and dreads at dinner parties). As a business owner you’ve probably heard of public relations, but you may not be sure what it actually is or how it could benefit your business. Here are four things you need to know about PR.
1. PR is what someone says about you, advertising is what you say about yourself
If I had a dollar for every time a client asked me “how much do I need to pay you to get me on the news?” I’d be sipping a Mai Tai on a beach in the Bahamas instead of writing this. Repeat after me; PR IS NOT ADVERTISING. Public relations can encompass everything from traditional media relations and event planning to social media management and content creation, but the underlying goal remains the same; to help you build positive relationships with your customers. Plus, good PR gives you something money (and advertising) can’t buy; credibility via third-party endorsement.
2. The long and short of it
When you hire a PR firm it’s likely to work one of two ways; you’ll either pay a monthly retainer or a one-off project fee. If you have a limited budget or you’d like to try using PR to promote a specific activity such as a product launch, a project-based fee might be the best option for you. A retainer, on the other hand, is a regular fee that covers hours spent on PR and allows for a more strategic and sustained approach to public relations. Or in the unlikely scenario that budget is no object – we’ll go wild and charge you by the hour for it.
3. Slow and steady wins the race
If there’s one thing to keep in mind it’s that PR is an on-going strategy and not a one–off task. It’s like playing the stock market – you’re not going to get all your money back in the first month and it can take a while to see results. In a constantly shrinking media landscape, getting cut through is no easy feat. But with a solid strategy and a commitment to spreading the word about your company, you’ll soon have better relationships with journalists, more editorial mentions and greater awareness of your company. If you’re going to invest in public relations, make sure you’re in it for the long-haul.
4. If you’re reading this, it’s too late
When we undertake media training sessions for our clients, the first thing we ask is “what is your company’s most valuable asset?” Most think it’s their people, but it’s actually your reputation. Too often the first time we hear from a business owner is when they’ve made a mistake, ended up in the headlines, and they need crisis management, pronto. But reputations don’t work like that. Think of your reputation like a bank account – you need to build it up in the good times so that when something goes wrong, and you have to make a withdrawal, you’re not left in the red.