Public relations misconceptions that could be hurting your bottom line.
By Bonnie Moss
Return on investment (ROI) is one of the most fundamental criteria for any successful business owner. It’s so important that companies will spend countless hours creating, adjusting and re-adjusting their sales and marketing initiatives in the hopes of bringing in the highest possible ROI. I can understand why this is – sales and marketing have always been viewed as the most direct path to increasing your revenue. But one important driving force that’s often overlooked or undervalued is a company’s public relations efforts.
Public relations is often considered an ancillary service or luxury that only big corporations can afford. Many companies still seem confused about the role PR should play in achieving the organization’s goals. If you’ve been thinking public relations is all about fluff and has little impact on your ROI then you could be missing significant opportunities to drive new business and reap benefits that will continue to work for you.
As a PR veteran, I’ve heard just about every excuse business owners offer when faced with the decision of whether to invest in PR. Below are some of the top misconceptions about public relations and why they are inaccurate.
“Public Relations is going to cost too much”
The most common myth is that a public relations firm is something only large corporations can afford, and that hiring one for your company is going to bleed your marketing budget dry. While it’s true that there are firms out there that have lofty retainers, the trick is finding the right public relations company for you. In fact, many firms specialize in helping new businesses grow, and will work to create the best public relations plan for your needs and budget. Despite what the big firms might tell you, you don’t have to go guns blazing right away, your public relations efforts can start out small and you can use the results of those intiatives to build on your longer term plan.
If you can carve out even a small monthly budget you are willing to invest in PR, I think you will find that the value can go a lot further than buying expensive advertising space or tradeshow sponsorship.
In fact, small to medium sized businesses have the most to gain from investing in their PR efforts, as it can be one of the most effective ways for them to market themselves, gain brand recognition and benefit from the long-term effects of search-engine optimization (SEO), which is a core function of PR. SEO initiates ensure that your efforts live on well after you issue your press release or publish your article.
I like to think of PR as an invisible salesperson that never stops working, because as long as it is on the internet, it’s working to sell your brand and tell your story. The right PR firm for you will make sure that they are using every viable option to increase your marketshare within a budget that makes you comfortable.
“We have nothing to promote”
PR has changed drastically over the years. The same old practices we used ten years ago don’t hold the same weight or have the same impact in in today’s society. Due to the onslaught of social media and viral content, information is given and shared in the blink of an eye, and PR needs to become a part of any company’s daily operations. It is no longer about promoting only big announcements or huge company wins, now it is about creating compelling content that lives in your website and blog, in social media accounts and search engines. It is a platform that enables you to connect with your customers, gives your brand a voice and communicates what makes you different.
You do not have to be Microsoft or Apple to make news. Every company has important information to share, it is just a matter of crafting your message and then finding your target audience. There is an audience for every story, you just have to know where it is and how to get in front of it. You can look to pressing industry news and and share your insights with op-ed articles and blog posts that will engage your readers. Postioning yourself as thought leader is an excellent way to indirectly promote your brand and elevate your credibility. The more you share, the more visable you are and the more business you can attract.
“Our service is not for the masses”
If you serve a unique niche or have a highly targeted audience, don’t assume that PR isn’t for you. A PR campaign aimed at a specific market can actually be more effective than a general push for the masses. The first step is to identify who you want to target and where can they be reached, then don’t miss any opportunity of communicating with them.
If you are trying to appeal to a specific audience, make sure all your content and strategy is built around them. Find a PR firm that is highly specialized in your industry and can help you leverage the expertise and contacts needed to get you seen by perspective clients. When you work with industry experts for your PR initiatives, they can help guide you to better connect with your customers because they know what is trending in your industry, what terminology to use and what promotes engagement with your audience.
“That is what our marketing department is for”
I hear this time and time again, but the reality is that marketing and PR require completely different skill sets. And, given that most marketing departments are swamped, PR initiatives usually fall between the cracks.
That said, if you use them in the right way, your marketing department can actually play a key role in the success of your PR initiatives. Having the PR firm you have chosen work closely with your marketing department can produce the most impactful results for your company.
They can communicate regularly with your PR team about company developments and news that can be used for editorial pitches and articles. They can work together to make sure that marketing efforts and PR campaigns are synchronized and achieving the best possible outcomes. They can supervise and ensure that your PR team is staying on point with their deliverables and reaching the goals that were set forth.
This might seem obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the marketing and PR teams kept separate or unaware of what the other was doing. When you leverage the power of your marketing department with the media connections and resources of your PR firm, you are effectively utilizing everyone’s strengths, and in the end, will reap the largest returns.
So many people underestimate the power of public relations, but I have seen the impact it has had for so many businesses, both large and small. It has never been more important, with the the rise of social media and content marketing, to make public relations an essential component of your company’s long term strategy.
So if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to invest in your public relations strategies and start capturing your audience’s attention.
About The Author
Bonnie Moss is President and Founder of Moss Networks Inc, a PR and Marketing agency bringing over a decade of experience in the Technology and BtoB marketplace. Follow her on twitter @mossnetworks or visit www.mossnetworks.com.