As a digital marketer and someone who has worked in public relations, I understand the importance of PR for businesses but I also understand that it isn’t something that is easy to sell because many businesses don’t understand it and don’t care to.
Let’s face it, few people can explain what publicist do and fewer see the benefit of public relations. Heck, most people can explain the job functions of a secret agent before they can a publicist.
Just to clear things up, PR is a form of promotion of a business that is earned, not purchased, like advertisement. So in other words, don’t expect to pay for ad space on a website or pay a journalist to write a featured story on your business. It doesn’t work that way.
With public relations, your ideal audience is communicated with through earned promotion from trusted sources such as traditional media or speaking engagements.
PR people are persuasive storytellers. PR is typically used for brand awareness and to enhance the public perception of businesses. This includes damage control of negative events that can damage a company’s public perception. You can use public relations to shine a spotlight on your value propositions and translate them into positive stories.
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
So why is it important?
Let’s compare PR versus paying for advertising.
Public Relations Versus Advertising
It’s earned exposure versus purchased. Most people view articles written by a trusted journalist as credible as opposed to ads, which are typically viewed as skeptical. This means you convince reporters, editors, podcast hosts, bloggers, news producers, etc., to share positive stories about your business or service.
Instead of having “promoted content,” which isn’t always trusted, your content would appear in the editorial section of the magazine, newspaper, TV station or website.
There’s nothing wrong with paying for advertisements. Just keep in mind that most advertisements need to appear frequently over time before you will grab the attention of your potential customer. Additionally, if you don’t have the right sales funnel in place to convert your leads into customers, you may just be wasting your money.
Earned promotion in publications like the New York Times, Forbes and The Huffington Post, have lasting effects and over time can result in speaking engagements, new clients, and solid credibility.
Many marketing professionals would argue that public relations has become the most effective way to build a brand, myself included. So, why is PR important? It builds brand awareness and establishes credibility better than paid ads ever will. And let’s face it, in today’s world of reading Yelp reviews and searching BBB, people want to hear about a business from trusted sources, not directly from the business itself.
People want to do business with brands that they are familiar with, they like, and they trust: public relations is the best way that the public can get to know, like, and trust your business.
So how do you get started with your own PR?
Getting Started With PR
I’ll be honest, there is an easy way and there is a way that requires some effort and patience. However, both ways can work if executed correctly.
The easy way is simple. You just hire an independent publicist or a PR firm and they will do all of the work for you. Of course, this way is not without its expense.
Considering that you are hiring people to write and distribute press releases, develop unique story angles to pitch to the press, among many more tasks that PR people perform, you can expect to pay a pretty penny.
The less desirable way that requires effort and patience is simply doing it yourself. As someone who was a self-taught independent publicist who garnered earn media coverage for my clients on such platforms as The Huffington Post, Latina Magazine, The Business Journals and many more. I can tell you that it isn’t difficult but requires diligent effort and patience.
First, you must learn How to Pitch to Media. Once you learn that, all you have to do is be consistent and patient. The earned coverage will come.
Books that I encourage any beginner to read are, This Is How You Pitch: How To Kick Ass In Your First Years of PR, Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time, and Brand Identity Breakthrough: How to Craft Your Company’s Unique Story to Make Your Products Irresistible.
These books can help you avoid the common pitfalls many novices make and help you get it right the first time. Let’s be honest, who has weeks, months, or even years to waste? None of us. So learning how to do things right the first time is a must if you want to save time, energy and money.
One resource that I recommend for anyone who doesn’t have the money to pay a PR firm but want equally good results would be to use eReleases. I like this company because they not only distribute your press releases for you, but they will write your press release for you if you have writers’ block or simply just don’t have the time.
As a PR Newswire partner at a fraction of the price of PR Newswire and PR firms, eReleases gives that extra bit of help that will come in handy for the busy entrepreneur.
Another really great option is 24-7 Press Release. Through its multi-channel distribution network, 24-7 Press Release helps entrepreneurs and businesses disseminate their news to consumers, editors, journalists, bloggers, and websites.
Do you have experience using PR for your business? I’d love to hear your take on PR for business. How was your experience?