Are you looking to create buzz about your business, increase revenue and gain credibility and brand awareness? Hiring a public relations firm might be the right choice for you, but it can be a heavy decision for small business owners. Owner and Executive Publicist Susan Friedman is a public relations veteran and expert at Friedman Marketing and Public Relations (FMPR).
She explains what you must know before hiring a PR company.
(Photo courtesy of Susan Friedman)
Before talking to PR firms, I recommend business owners do a little homework to have an open, productive discussion and to establish realistic expectations during the PR agency interview process. Just as you would expect a PR firm to research your company and industry before providing you with a proposal, you should know a little about the PR industry before making that initial phone call.
Public relations includes media relations, social media, advertising, grassroots marketing, community outreach, fundraising, event production, stakeholder relations, communication — internal and external, speaking engagements and so much more.
What is the difference between media relations and advertising?
Advertising is paid media in which the key message, creative, publication date and time and media outlet are known prior to being made to the public. Media relations, free editorial coming from a third-party, has many unknowns but is 70 percent more effective and results-oriented than advertising. Press is also hard-earned and should be considered a privilege and honor. FMPR believes a solid mix of different kinds of public relations efforts achieves the best results for the client. Before calling a PR firm, be prepared to answer questions. Create a brief outlining your business concept, target market, primary objectives, scope-of-work, measurements of success and ideally a budget range. Publicists will need this information to determine your needs and write a proposal.
How should my company select a firm?
There are many types of PR firms — large global agencies with hundreds of offices, regional full-service agencies, boutique firms with niche specialties and freelancers. Business owners should ask other businesses who they recommend for PR and also research online to understand better firms’ various services.
Have realistic expectations:
- Overnight sensations and viral campaigns are few and far between. Public relations is a process.
- If your expectations are unreasonable, such as being the cover story of a national magazine when you only serve a small region, you will only be disappointed with any other media coverage, no matter how great.
- You are not off the hook once you hire a PR agency! As the business owner, you or a company representative will still need to be responsible for marketing efforts — providing supporting materials and updates, responding to questions in a timely manner, approving press/marketing materials and meeting on a continual basis, many times on extremely tight deadlines. Discuss your involvement during the interview process.
Once these major factors are determined, it comes down to finding the right PR firm based on budget, services provided, track record and chemistry.
This article was written by Robin D. Everson for Small Business Pulse