Whether or not you do it yourself, use a consultant, an agency, or have an in-house PR pro, every business stage needs public relations. Since businesses need to interact with the public, government, their competition, partners, and clients (whether that is other businesses or the public), managing relationships and perceived business value are essential. PR pro, Michelle Garrett outlines why PR is an essential line item, no matter what stage your business is at.
While PR is experiencing a bit of a renaissance as the value of earned media and backlinks seems to be at the top of many brands’ list of digital marketing initiatives, there are still those companies who seem to feel they won’t benefit from public relations.
The truth is, companies at EVERY stage can benefit from PR.
Every business needs PR, even companies at the top of their game shouldn’t overlook the value of what public relations brings to their brands.
As ways to get the word out about your product or service increase with the proliferation of social media and consumers’ access to information, public relations still leads the pack. Why?
“Earned media coverage, as third-party validation, still has the greatest capacity to generate action.”
Why? “Positive news stories, amplified in social media, can serve as powerful endorsements and a boost to brand reputation,” Himler says. “Unfortunately, the reverse also holds true. Think of poor Papa John.”
And because the news cycle moves so quickly now, Himler says it’s vital that businesses persist—in good times or in bad—in engaging editorial decision-makers to maintain a positive branded footprint in the media.
Companies at various stages, such as those growing, struggling or succeeding, can all take advantage of what public relations helps them achieve.
Early and mid-stage companies need visibility. They benefit from media exposure and brand recognition. Well-timed articles can help boost efforts to launch new products or roll out solutions.
“Early on, PR creates crucial awareness for your company. A new business is like that tree in the forest that falls down with no one around it. If no one is talking about your business, does it even exist?” Jesse Ghiorzi, director of brand strategy at Charge.
Working with a PR firm can also help early-stage brands define messages that resonate with their target audiences. Public relations pros are skilled at helping clients position themselves for success.
Yet another benefit of PR can be drawing talent to a brand. If a company is growing, it needs to hire strong employees. If it appears in publications and on social media in a favorable light, it’s more likely to be compelling to potential new hires. Further, it can help retain employees who may take pride in seeing the name of the company they work for in lights.
For companies that are struggling, a PR pro can help uncover stories they can tell that will bring them more visibility.
“If your business is struggling, you might be cutting back on marketing and ad budgets. The right PR tactics can help you stretch that marketing budget by getting your business covered in key publications at a fraction of the cost compared to a paid placement,” says Ghiorzi.
And, if a brand has spent time in the past building a following, it can leverage that audience to help support it during tougher times.
Brands with momentum may believe they have no need for PR. Quite the contrary, says Himler.
“Many esteemed brands with large followings on social media may have less of a need for traditional PR, i.e., media relations. They simply announce their news via their ‘owned’ channels and it propagates from there.”
Himler continues, “However, most companies—big and small—do not enjoy the same luxury as an Apple or Google or Amazon. They must engage the beat reporters who follow their industry, or company awareness and esteem can deteriorate. Then, they may just end up in the trash heap of brands that have lost their luster.”
“When the going is good, why not start telling your story to your audience? Because there will come a time when the economy is not so good, and you need customers to know who you are,” says Brad Marley, consultant, and owner of Yelram Media.
“When that happens, it’s not as if a brand can snap its fingers and generate momentum. if you’re waiting until the bust to invest in PR to generate publicity, you’ve waited too long.”
Every business needs PR, no matter their size or age. To craft a comprehensive PR brand strategy at any size, download our ebook on digital literacy for modern PR folks and when you’re ready to prove the success of your campaigns, make sure you know what KPIs prove PR ROI.