If you’ve never used a PR agency before or had a crack at a DIY public relations campaign, then it may seem a little mysterious. If you’ve been thinking about ways to grow sales and improve brand recognition for your business, then PR is a great tool to help you achieve your aims. Here are 5 key things that you should know when considering whether to try a PR campaign for the first time:

1. It isn’t the same as advertising

The first thing that lots of people say when I tell them what I do is normally – “Oh, so like advertising then?” Well, not quite! PR is ‘earned media’ whereas advertising is ‘paid media’ and the results are quite different. A lot of us have trained ourselves to skip over adverts when we read magazines and newspapers, focusing instead on the editorial content in news articles, features and product round ups. PR aims to get you coverage in that editorial.

See also: What is PR?

2. Positive editorial is better than advertising

Multiple surveys have shown that people trust editorial more than they trust adverts. They see it as the seal of approval from the writer and/or the publication that they know and trust. Think about yourself flicking through a home and garden magazine knowing that you are starting to think about buying a new kitchen. Are you more likely to search through all the adverts to find the kitchen ones and then research them, or read an article titled ‘The very latest kitchen design trends’? Now if you have a kitchen company where would you like to be placed?

3. PR doesn’t have to cost the earth

While it is true that the top PR firms and high-profile consultants based in London and other major cities do charge quite extraordinary retainers to their clients, the good news is that there is another way. Small and medium-sized enterprises will be able to find small PR agencies who are specialists in their particular sector and who have created packages that offer excellent value for money. They are often set up so that you can use them when you have something to shout about to the big wide world and not retain their services when life is ticking along normally! PR offers exceptional value for money versus advertising – and for a better outcome.

See also: How to plan a PR strategy to make sure 2019 is your very best year yet

4. You can use it just when you need it

So, we’ve ascertained that you don’t have to have a PR company working for you 24/7. But how do you know when the time is right to invest your time and money in PR? Your PR activity should be used to share something newsworthy with the press, so that might be the launch of an innovative new product that you would like to flag up to your industry or an exciting addition to your team. Perhaps you are sponsoring a big industry award and want to make sure that people know why you want to support career development in your sector. That said, if you have a bigger budget and are keen to boost brand awareness then a longer-term PR campaign can reap great rewards too.

5. Plan and plan some more

A successful PR campaign is all about planning. You will need to consider your business plan and what your aims are, when you might launch new products or refresh and rebrand an old one. You will need to ensure you have strong photography to send to press, particularly if your business is consumer-facing. Make a list of publications which write about your sector and businesses like yours, and research the contact details for the journalists and editors there. Think about the seasonality of publications’ editorial calendars – if you are sending a press release about your newly converted holiday cottages then think about when publications will be on the hunt for that type of story. Bear in mind the lead time of magazines who work months in advance of their publication date and work that into your plan.

See also: How to choose the right PR expert for you and your business

PR is a brilliant tool and when it works well, it really works. I have seen clients sell out of a product completely following great press coverage and become serious competition for brands that they used to admire and purchase products from themselves. Investing in PR is a great way to grow your business and I hope that this article has helped you to understand how it works. If you still have any questions, why not drop me a line?

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