What Can Public Relations Do For A Small Business?
Public Relations. The be all and end all isn’t it? If only I could get national coverage, or even niche coverage for my small service business, then I would be made. I would have untold success, be quoted in all of the important media in my business sector, and I would never need to undertake any other form of marketing at all, would I?
Sadly, in my 20 plus years’ experience of marketing service businesses this is far from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much a fan of Public Relations. A Public Relations company can do a lot for any sized business, and wonders for a small business, but they will not instantly or necessarily at all generate a significant volume of new business for you.
Public Relations Builds Credibility!
This is my experience of Public Relations. I have paid companies £5,000 a month to handle clients and my own business public relations, and I have also managed spend of a few hundred pounds a month. I can tell you which one works better. £5,000 a month attracted national press coverage, national radio interviews (not quite TV) and provided some excellent media coverage. And this is the point. It did not lead to instant and lots of new business, but if you look over to the right hand side of this page you should see a box in the right hand column entitled “As Featured In…” and this is the point. Media coverage builds credibility. If you are looking for a marketing consultant right now and you stumble across my website and a few others, does the fact that I have been featured in some national business magazines put me further up the queue or toward the bottom of the queue in your preference?
If someone is looking for the service that you provide and they find your website and can see you have been quoted extensively in national or niche media for your industry, and your competitors have not been quoted anywhere, who looks better?
Public relations builds credibility for your business, and in my view this is all that it does (unless you strike Gold and obtain coverage on a national interest story covering your services (highly unlikely)).
So what about small business public relations companies?
Small Business Public Relations Companies
My experience of small business public relations companies is not good. They usually charge anything from £250-1,000 per month and promise no particular results. They explain that public relations is very difficult and it will be very hard to attract interest in your small business (they usually say this whilst looking down their noses at you). But they explain that if you work with them for long enough they might get some results for you, for which you should be very grateful too! They might imply that to get your small business in any media will be a near miracle, as every small business owner thinks that their business is special, just like you do yours.
I have sat with many small business public relations companies in client meetings when they have explained that the only way they can obtain media coverage, whether local or niche to fit your service offering, is to buy advertising space and hope that at some point in the future you might be asked to quote on a news story, but that will take many months.
Please do me and your business a favour, if you meet one of these public relations companies swiftly show them the door! I can buy you advertising space. You can buy your own advertising space. You do not need to pay an inadequate public relations company for the privilige of buying advertising space and you should not. Your marketing budget can be much better spent on pay per click advertising, search engine marketing, advertising in the local media or writing articles for your blog or website.
Every aspect of your marketing has to pay its way. If your public relations is not achieving this, it must be stopped. There are many better ways to invest your marketing budget!