I come across many business owners who aren’t sure of the benefits of public relations to their business. I have no problem with that, because it’s my job to tell them how PR can work to promote their business, but there are some basic assumptions that Jules covered in her article that really resonated with me.
1. PR is guaranteed coverage – this is never the case. The whole point of PR is to create a relevant story for the media to cover. There can be many reasons a business’s PR isn’t used by a media outlet, from missing the deadline to the competition used it first.
2. PR is instant – while it may be possible to get some early coverage in a PR campaign, PR is at its best over the long term. PR is about building relationships with the right media so when they need something about your business’s industry, they know who to ask. It takes several months for a campaign to reach its full potential, so be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
3. Once I have a PR agency I don’t have to do anything else – while a PR agency will do the leg work of finding the media, writing the press releases, sending them out and following up, all this counts for nothing if a journalist wants to speak to the business owner and they’re not available. The story is likely to be shelved, or given less importance than if someone had been interviewed. You will also need to approve information before it is sent to the media, be available for any questions the consultant may have and provide background information about the business to create a better story.
4. I will approve what is written before it goes to print – you will approve the press release, but how that information is used after it is sent to the media is no longer in your control. It may result in an entire story about your business, or you may be one of several businesses featured in the article (possibly including your competition).
5. It’s easy to get on TV – if your story is relevant and catches the eye of the program’s producers, you may get on TV. However, it is the hardest coverage to secure for clients because there are fewer stations and programs than other media and stories are more time sensitive than anywhere else. It’s important to remember that the point of PR is to promote your business in a positive light to your industry and customers, so it’s best to go for media that your customers read, watch or listen to, than choose TV above everything else.
The moral to this story is PR is about building ongoing relationships with targeted media, your industry and customers. If you want guaranteed coverage that you have control over, it’s best to pay for advertising.