Has it really come to this?
I was recently talking with a colleague who also owns a service-based business over lunch when he mentioned he’d realized that when he met with prospective clients to discuss how his service could benefit them, he’d started to consider what types of marketing budget items he was competing with. One prospective client explained that he could probably take some of the budget he had for coffee mugs and other tchotchkes to spend on my colleague’s service instead. A light bulb went off in my head as he told the story—coffee mugs?! Has it really come to this? Are we in marketing services businesses such as PR now competing with, of all things, COFFEE MUGS for dollars? Say it isn’t so! But what if is….?
Let’s say you have a marketing budget. It’s limited. You probably have budget for items such as advertising, events, direct marketing, and so on. Is PR even on your list? Or is it competing with tchotchkes for a piece of the marketing pie? If it isn’t even on the list, here’s where you could gain a lot of visibility, potential customers and sales for a small outlay. PR helps your company by using the media to help you get the word out to your customer base about your product or service. Nothing gives your product more credibility than a favorable review by an industry publication or a positive mention in an article about your competitors–not advertising, not a booth at an industry event, and no, not even a coffee mug.
With PR, you gain credibility in the eyes of your customers and potential customers because the reporter who wrote the story in which your company or product appeared wasn’t biased. He’s an expert on the topic and felt that what you have to offer was valuable enough to his readers to include it in the article, even though he may have heard from 50 companies who provide a similar product. And once you’ve begun to forge a relationship with that reporter, chances are he will look to you again in the future when in need of an expert to comment on a particular story he’s working on.
And that’s just the beginning of what PR can do for you. Once the article has appeared, you can repurpose it in a number of ways. You can include it on your web site in your “press” or news area; you can send it out to your customers/prospects with a cover note; you can pull quotes from the article to plug into sales and marketing pieces; and those are just a few examples. The articles can also lead to more hits in web searches.
Not to mention the value of the space PR provides vs. advertising. When was the last time you spent precious marketing dollars on a paid ad only to have it flop, providing little or no return? With PR, you can more cost-effectively reach out to an audience because what you’re paying for is the time and expertise of a PR professional to conduct outreach for you. If you work with a consultant, you can pay an hourly, project or retainer rate for this type of work, which is generally much more value-oriented than buying advertising space in an online or print publication. While potential customers might not read an ad, they might read an article those talks about products or services they’re interested in.