A small business can incorporate public relations in a variety of ways with specialists, firms, agencies, and freelancers all available for hire. PR can be extremely beneficial to companies who need to improve their image, increase sales, or break out into a competitive industry, but many businesses can waste time and resources with ineffective PR. It is important to consider a multitude of factors when thinking about starting a PR campaign, and these pros and cons could help reach a decision.
One of PRs greatest benefits is that it can get a business’s name into credible sources like newspapers, magazines, and online sources with content that is not an advertisement. This greatly improves the credibility of the business to readers and potential customers and will drive more traffic than an advertisement on the same page. Plus, as long as you hire a decent PR firm you will most likely get some results.
The better image a business has and the more publications it is featured in, the more revenue it will generate (well at least that is how it is supposed to work). Having a quality PR campaign can be expensive, but the costs can be covered if the business is being featured in quality publications that could potentially drive a lot of traffic.
Improves a Tarnished Image
If a business has been slammed by the media, emergency PR can help restore or lessen the damage with pieces that document positives about the company or ways the company is fixing a mistake. This is often a more expensive type of PR, but it can be worth it to stave off extensive damages. While the old saying, “any publicity is good publicity” holds true some of the time, sometimes you need a little silver lining around a dark cloud.
Hiring a Professional
Businesses hire a PR specialist because they do not have the expertise, connections, or time to do it themselves. While it is possible to do successful PR without a specialist, generally the publications are not nearly as high of quality as if they had gone with a specialist.
Even great PR firms cannot guarantee positive results. The nature of the business is volatile and publications can be infrequent or nonexistent for long periods of time. It can also take long time for PR to gain traction for a business and the payoffs may not be noticeable until months later. In a larger firm, there is also no guarantee that a portfolio won’t end up in the hands of an intern or inexperienced agent, even though the cost does not reflect it. Giving a third party control of PR can leave a business vulnerable if they do not take the care to manage.
Hiring a good PR specialist or firm can be very expensive, which can make it impossible for startups or small businesses to use it effectively. Cheaper agencies can provide low quality publicity that does little for a business, which just ends up being a waste of money as well. There is no reason a cheap PR firm or freelancer with a low rate cannot provide you with good PR, but typically businesses get what they pay for when it comes to PR.
Sometimes PR just is not needed, but that does not mean it will not be sold to a business. Small businesses and startups can often do their own PR in the form of blogs and guest posts, or simply outreach to writers. It takes more time and might not be as effective as hiring a third party, but it is much cheaper and can still provide results.
Choosing to start a PR campaign can be a stressful choice for a business owner and the decision should not be taken lightly. Be sure to shop around to find a quality PR specialist that fits the budget and can provide quality references. Be wary of people who promise great results could just be trying to close a sale. Sometimes PR is the best investment a business can make, but in other situations the added cost can be a huge mistake.
About the author:
Miles Hall writes frequently about the business world. He is interested primarily in writing about selling businesses for www.businessbroker.net