Do You Really Need a PR Company?

05 Feb Do You Really Need a PR Company?

PR and marketing will help your business become more successful. But the obvious downside of a successful business is that you personally will no longer have as much time to devote to PR and marketing.

But handing it over to someone else is a risk – how can you be sure that they’ll communicate the passion that fired you up to start the business in the first place?

Your choices

As you grow and find yourself in this position you really ultimately have four choices.

  1. To grow but still retain control, personally, of all your PR and marketing. It may sound great but this is very stressful and if you’re planning on doing your PR full time, then why aren’t you running a PR company? It’s not impossible, but to carry out this option successfully you’ll need to be extremely disciplined.
  2. To hand over PR and marketing responsibilities to another member or members of staff, and train them up to be responsible for this area.
  3. To bring in a PR professional in-house.
  4. To employ outside help from a PR company or practitioner.

Let’s take a look at what doing your own PR long-term actually involves. Whether you are planning to outsource your PR or not, this will give you a breakdown of the different tasks involved. You may find that you feel you and your business will be able to handle them no problem, or it may send you into a cold panic where you realise that you’d better start looking around for a PR company pretty damn quick!

Research

This involves keeping up to date with newspapers, websites, trade and professional publications, magazines, radio shows and TV.

Planning your PR strategy

This includes market research into what image you need to project to your potential customers and devising a plan with a suitable timescale. To be honest, even if you have a PR company you’ll need to be on top and driving this one.

Building relationships with journalists and editors

This could involve lunches, networking, and going to trade events where you know they will be covering stories. The beauty of doing your own PR is that these contacts are yours and won’t be with-held by The PR company or leave with them when an account executive goes onto their next job.

Writing PR material

This could include web pages, press releases, articles for inclusion on your own and other websites (in exchange for links), articles for the press, newsletters and regular tips and hints for editors. Sometimes the clients still end up doing this even if they have a PR company.

Day to day PR

Chasing up press releases and phoning journalist with a story; giving interviews; following up past “bites” or interviews to see when article are being published; arranging for photos, links, photographs etc; placing competitions; buying publications and organising cuttings to most effectively impress potential clients.

Social Media

Twitter, Facebook and Linked in are an integral part of most PR campaigns nowadays.

And, of course, co-ordinating all the above so that they run smoothly!

Pros and Cons

Learning How to Do Your Own PR (either individually, or as a team)

Pros

* You retain control of the way things go.
* The contacts you make are your own and you can build relationships with the press.
* You can portray the passion behind the business much more effectively than someone who is being paid to do so.
* You and your team will learn skills and unleash abilities along the way that will benefit other parts of your business.
* This is often the cheapest option.

Cons

* Time consuming!
* If you suddenly thrust PR responsibilities on a member of staff who didn’t sign up for this when they started it can cause bad feeling.

Bringing a PR Person In-house

Pros

* You’ll get all their abilities, contacts and skills – just for you.
* They can immerse themselves in company culture and product much more easily and hopefully be able to communicate that better than someone on the outside.

Cons

* Cost plus all the other risks associated with taking on staff.

Hiring a PR Person or Agency

Pros

* You have access to their contacts
* It frees up your time.

Cons

* This can be a very expensive option and fees can run away unless you watch them carefully.
*You could competing for their time with higher paying clients.

My own opinion?

I firmly believe that small businesses, while they are small, are the best people to do their PR. It’s easier for them to inspire the press with excitement and the skills you pick up can be phenomenal. And once a relationship with the press has been built it’s more effective to bring in more people into the business to carry that on, and keep it yours, than hand it over to an outside party.

And of course, even if you are considering having an agency at some point in the future, doing your own PR for a while will mean that you understand the mechanics of PR, know what to expect from them and can tell if they are giving you your money’s worth!

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