Five reasons to use PR... and one reason why not to

Published: 07th February 2012
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Generally everyone knows that PR could help their organisation. You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, and (correctly) assumed that getting in the papers is generally good. But exactly how exactly can PR assist you along with your company? In this short article I’m about to take a look at all the ways the press can benefit you.

There is obviously such a thing as bad publicity, so I’ll also show you the one situation when it’s a good idea to keep a low profile…

Reason 1: PR will boost the profile of your company

This is perhaps the most self-evident benefit of PR work. Each and every time your organisation gets coverage in the news, you become a little better known in your town or market place, and a bit more likely to make an impression on new business. One mention in the newspaper isn’t going to allow you to retire in the Bahamas and play golf every single day, but it means someone somewhere is going to be exposed to your company and the message you wish to get over.

Say for example you manage a garage. In October you decide to have an open day to teach your public (free of charge) how to prepare their cars for the winter weather, so you phone up the local newspaper and they feature it within that week’s issue. Consumers see the article and think ‘that’s pleasant of them, they seem like an honest, professional business’.

Truthfully, you almost certainly aren’t about to have the whole village queuing down the street on Monday morning desperate for you to service their motors - PR works in a considerably more subtle way than this.

Yes, an individual might book their car in that day because they happen to need an MOT and require a garage they can have confidence in, but much more likely they’ll simply remember your company name. Then when your next pr stunt makes the paper, they may be in a position to book their car in. Or the time after that. Effective Public relations isn’t a one off event, it’s numerous incremental steps that little by little make your business more attractive to potential customers.

Buyers flock to companies they know. To continue the garage illustration, Kwik Fit isn’t the cheapest place to get an MOT done. You can probably find a mechanic in your area that will do just as good a job for less money. But countless people flock to Kwik Fit on a daily basis because they’re a brand name people can trust in a niche where consumers are always worried about getting conned.

Increasing the profile of one's organisation won’t only be noticed by your customers either. Other suppliers in your sector will notice your organisation is growing, which can lead to partnership and joint venture possibilities.

The advantages of a strong brand won’t only have an external effect on your firm either. Positive newspaper coverage just might help you acquire and keep good employees. Everyone wants well known, respected organisations on their Curriculum vitae. By getting coverage in the media, you’ll be helping your HR division out, and potentially saving thousands in recruitment expenses.

Reason 2: Publicity can save you significant amounts in advertising expenses

An ad in a national paper would be way too expensive for most companies to even consider, yet with PR you could get your company in the paper for nothing. Plus by being written about in an article, your message comes across as much more authoritative than an advert.

Put it this way, imagine you saw a review in The Daily Telegraph telling you a movie was the very best piece of cinema since Casablanca, and an advert telling you the same thing, what would have more of an impact?

Reason 3: Public relations rewards you personally

It’s not just your organisation which will be enhanced by getting coverage in the press, a raised media profile may benefit you personally if you’re the person being interviewed or quoted.

As you become known in your sector, a variety of opportunities can open themselves up to you. You might receive job offers from larger businesses that have seen the job you’ve been doing in the industry. You might be offered consultancy work, which can be very rewarding. You may even be offered speaking engagements, which give you another chance to boost your personal and business brands.

These opportunities all stem from the authority you gain by being seen as an expert in your field - and notice I said being seen as an expert. You don’t have to be the most knowledgable individual in your industry to be viewed as an authority, you just need to be the ‘expert’ everyone is most aware of. Public relations can make you more highly regarded in your sector than a competitor or colleague with many years more experience.

The other benefit people don’t often mention about Public relations is that it is often a lot of fun. Crafting a story and seeing it in the newspaper or on the Television can be extremely satisfying. Doing a live TV interview can be scary, but exciting at the same time.

Reason 4: PR can limit the impact of unfavourable press

You may know that there's some bad news coming down the path. Perhaps you’re cancelling a service, or closing a store. Perhaps you’re being sued by a consumer whose home was burnt down by the kettle you sold him. Regardless of the story, smart use of PR can lessen the effects of adverse publicity.

Reason 5: You NEED to be in charge or your image

Possibly the best reason to utilise the media is this: You must be in control of how the wider world sees you and your enterprise.

If you don’t take control of your public image, someone else will. And you may not like what they are saying.

By embracing the press you can avoid people making assumptions relating to your business, and you personally. Keeping quiet means journalists will write what they like about your organisation, and it will be them, rather than you, that styles public opinion of your organisation.

And last but not least, when not to PR your organisation…

There is a caveat to all of this. Only you know what skeletons lie in your closet. Before you embark on any Public relations programme, have a think about whether you want to draw attention to your company. Is there something you don’t want the population to learn, that could be exposed by increased media attention?

Public relations work can decrease the impact of destructive publicity, but in some instances you’d be better off avoiding the press altogether.

So instead of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, I’ll give you a quote from the wit Brendan Behan:

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity… except your own obituary”

If you want to learn more about how to PR your business you can visit the How To PR blog here.

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