Do small businesses need a PR agency?

Great PR engages a brand’s target audiences via the best means available. It works by raising awareness of the brand’s ‘story’ via the correct channels. At its best, it drives brand awareness, website traffic and sales.

Editorial is said to be three times more powerful than advertising. This is due to the 'experts' - the fashion editor, the tech columnist, the travel reporter etc –telling their readers to buy an item or using a service, as opposed to a brand paying to be placed in those pages. This is what makes PR so effective and powerful.

You don’t need to spend a fortune. In fact, you can even do it yourself. It’s all about speaking to your target press, communicating your brand to them and building relationships.  

Where to start? The most important element of any PR strategy is the most basic; working out who your target audience is and how to communicate to them. Once you’ve established this you need to identify realistic PR objectives that you can place measurable targets against.

You can choose one of two ways to move forward with your PR: take it in-house or appoint a PR agency. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s very important you decide what will work best for you, your style of working and your brand. In-house allows more hands-on control, with your press officer enjoying a close interaction with the various elements of your company.

PR agencies can offer you the benefit of many and various creative minds - with the hard-won contacts that accompany each of them – and is generally more cost-effective than bringing in an entirely new member to your team.

The next step is to ensure you have the right ‘kit‘. Do you have the right images? Have you prepared a concise press release? And, is what you are going to press about 'newsworthy'? The easiest way to determine this is to ask yourself; 'is this something new?’.

Finally, measuring how successful your PR campaign has been - what is its ROI (return on investment)? PR is tricky to measure, the best way to quantify it is by evaluating a publication’s reach – how many people read it?

It's also very useful to look at web analytics as a reference, as this will indicate whether coverage has driven traffic to your site. If so, you should always notice a spike in visits on the day of your coverage. PR ultimately works in two ways; awareness and sales. The sales are clear to count, but awareness will always be the harder element to measure.

Remember, building a brand doesn't happen overnight. It takes time and effort, but – whether your targets are brand building, increased sales or both - with the right PR support you’ll always find it easier to achieve what you set out to. They say that growing your company without promoting it is like winking at someone you like in the dark; you know what you’re doing but no one else does.

Don’t make that mistake when you’re building your brand – make sure that whatever your business does, it comes with some form of PR. After all it’s no longer a luxury only afforded to major corporations; it’s an accessible promotional tool that every business needs to consider if they want to stand out.

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