Many business owners hear the term ‘public relations’ or ‘pr’ and think ‘I don’t need this, there’s no evidence of a return on investment’ or, as I’ve heard more than once:
‘I want bangs for my buck’ or ‘where’s the bums on seats?’.
Personally, I tend to back off from any business owner who thinks he or she needs my services – and then say things like ‘PR it’s not really that important but I think I ought to do it’ or ‘my product is so fantastic that that article should have sold a million overnight, that press release didn’t work’.
PR is one tool in a marketing strategy and a very valuable one – but it’s a long term, slow burn affair. It’s not, or very rarely, able to fill a stadium with your customers overnight or even in a week or a month. It’s about being visible and understanding how the media and social media works and putting yourself out there to be discovered. Also, if you’re selling a product everything else has to work, like your website, your telephone, your e-mail. You have to be available!
In a time of recession it’s the PR which gets abandoned very quickly. Why is this? Is it not even more important what you project outwards about you and your business at this time? Through traditional and social media? Through advertising, leaflets, brochures, events, e-mailing or whatever strategies you use? Is it not important to be part of your business and geographical community? To have a view on the issues affecting that community?
There are some organisations or business people who just get this – look at the charitable sector, they absolutely understand the value of PR day in, day out. They just get it.
At a recent business event I attended, I spoke to Graham Hill, who discussed these very things with me. He runs a telephone answering company called Verbatim near Newbury. He belongs to various business groups and last year, one of those groups honoured him.
He was the first Oxfordshire member of the Entrepreneurs’ Circle to be awarded “Entrepreneur of the Month” twice in less than a year for making stuff happen in his business. So a group of which he’s a member honours him internally. Deservedly so.
I’d like to say I was responsible for what happened next but I’m afraid I cannot – Graham didn’t know me then! But Graham’s story is one which shows what CAN happen when you get the message about PR.
A simple press release went out detailing his award with photograph. In terms of cash spend – the most this would have cost him was £500, probably less.
In Graham’s words this is what happened:
1. the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce then invited me to speak at their lunch which led to a couple of sales enquiries.
2. Then Executive Television, which produces 30 minute documentaries on business and entrepreneurial subjects (aired on Sky information channel 212 and BBC/ITV digital) got in touch.
3. We have just completed the filming, one of four companies interviewed about “Effective Business Communication” Once they have a date to broadcast they will email 5000 IOD members information etc.
So from one little press release we have positioned our business as opinion makers / formers.
What will this publicity be worth globally? What would it have cost if that documentary was turned into advertising space? Four firms featured in 30 minutes – let’s say, conservatively you’ll get seven minutes air time – thousands and thousands of pounds.
Not all press releases will have the same effect but sooner or later one could – and once you are established as a leader in your field in your area, a commentator on your sector, the sky can literally be the limit. And hopefully you’ll take your friendly neighbourhood journalist along with you……