Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What is PR and How Can it Help a New Business

Every business is crucially dependent on its reputation. It is not only customers that have an impact; so too do suppliers, investors, employees, and the media. Each of these will have an opinion regarding the business and it is this opinion that will determine how they interact with it, for instance whether they purchase from it, invest in it or work for it. 

The aim of PR is to manage that reputation in a positive way so that these stakeholders gain and maintain a viewpoint that is beneficial to all parties and that achieves the corporate aims of the business.
A PR campaign

There are many aspects to a PR campaign. The traditional approach is the press release, which is a succinct news item describing interesting information on a business or product and which is circulated to journalists for publication in the media. In our digital age this is now known as a news release, and it is likely to be published online.

Although news releases are still an important aspect of PR campaigns, over recent years social networks have become increasing important. This is a very different approach than the traditional one of just presenting people with information and hoping that this will elicit a response. It involves two way communications and can be very effective. Today many PR professionals spend much of their time getting involved in conversations within social media and news releases written for the social media are designed to encourage customer engagement, sharing and conversation. 



A PR campaign is often the best way to launch a new business


New businesses need to manage cashflow with care. Sales need to be generated quickly and there may not be sufficient funds for extensive advertising campaigns. In such circumstances PR is a highly cost effective way of getting the business message across; not only is it considerably less expensive than advertising, when it is done correctly it can have a greater impact. Just a simple placement in the media can have a significant positive impact on sales.

PR owes its effectiveness to a number of factors:

  • People tend to respond more positively to a third party endorsement of a product or business than they do to a paid-for advertisement
  • PR increases the general awareness of businesses and brands and increases their credibility
  • Articles and news releases written as part of a PR campaign are found by search engines. Inbound links in these will drive visitors to the business website as well as increasing the rank of the website in search engine results. 
  • People like to share interesting and engaging information with the result that audiences can grow at an exponential rate.

Going about it


There are two approaches to PR: do it yourself (DIY) or hire a professional PR agency. One problem with the DIY approach is that there are so many things to be done in a new business that few entrepreneurs are able to devote sufficient time to developing and pursuing an effective PR campaign, so budgeting for some help from a PR professional should form part of the business plan, you should always check out what an agency has done before too.

Whatever approach is adopted it is important to concentrate initially on the strategy. For instance you need to establish what messages you want to get across, the reasons why you do, and how they will deliver your business goals. Ideally PR will form part of your overall marketing plan, so you need to consider ways in which you can integrate it.

As already indicated social media can be very useful to PR, but it needs time to engage your audience; you (or your PR professional) will need to get involved in conversations and building relationships.
Finally

PR is so important to new businesses that it should be included in the overall business strategy. Although it is cost effective, there is a cost, so ensure that you budget for it; you might have only one chance to get it right.





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