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Do you have money in your budget for marketing, advertising, collateral? What about Public Relations? Do I hear crickets?? If you are like many businesses, the answer is probably no. Can I ask you why? Public Relations is one of the most cost-effective methods for small businesses to raise awareness. Perhaps you’ll change your mind after you read this.

When the public sees your ad in a newspaper or on television, they know that you paid for it and you are trying to sell them something (sorry to all my advertising friends). When the media features you in a story, your company gains credibility. When you’re interested in a company, what do you do? Google them. If you see that business has been in the news for positive stories, chances are you are going to further look into them.

Public Relations generates news coverage and that builds credibility. Perception becomes reality. An effective PR campaign that generates positive exposure in the media and internet has a very wide reach.  When your business appears in the news, you are perceived as an expert. When your target market see you in the news, that is priceless.

Beyond the News
When you receive media coverage, it’s not about how many people read the article or saw your interview at that moment.  It’s about what your Marketing and Public Relations team does to market it. That news story will appear on all of your social media outlets. You then tag news outlets, reporters and so on. Then it goes on your website, your e-blasts, and lastly it is in land of Google. When people search your company, your news stories are going to show up. The lifespan of PR is far longer than than of a traditional advertising campaign.

Don’t try to save money and be your own Public Relations firm. The relationship that publicists and reporters have alone is worth thousands of dollars. When your PR team pitches your stories, the reporters know that it’s coming from a credible source. PR professionals know exactly what is news, what the reporter is looking for and what video they need. The press knows that firm’s clients will be available, prepped and ready to go. They know that the publicist will have everything they need and more. It is not about sending a press release out, anyone can do that. It is about packaging the story together, pitching different angles, and the relationship with the reporters. Do you have time to do that?

Crisis Communications
If you have a crisis, are you prepared to handle it? Let’s say your employee gets arrested or something negative happens on social media. Did you and your staff ever have strategic communication training? Do you have a plan? Do you have a PR team to turn to?  One negative story, if not handled correctly, could destroy your business. If you think it can’t happen to you, think again. Social media has opened doors for positive and negative news to travel fast, very fast. You need to be ready or have a firm that can take the reigns on any type of situation.

Your Bottom Line
If you asked me to put a dollar amount amount on the press coverage you receive, I honestly can’t because it is priceless. I can tell you that one good story in the media can lead to increased customers and sales.

I strongly encourage you to think of Public Relations as a piece of your marketing budget. You can do all the right things to market your company, but without PR you are missing an important piece of the puzzle. Good marketing and PR teams work great hand-in-hand. When you put two successful teams together, you are guaranteed to get great results.

Is there money for PR in your budget now?