Think Twice Before Doing Your Own Small-Biz PR

Should you be your own PR person? Many small businesses might think that doing their own PR is a good cost-cutting decision; however, the real cost might be to your business’s success. To a degree, you can do it yourself — but amidst all the demands of running your own company, hiring someone else with real experience to take care of your publicity might be the better option.

While saving money by doing it yourself is appealing, Linda Alexander of Alexander Marketing. says, “Most people are too busy running their companies to spend the hours required for research, pitching and follow up.”

“When you’re sick do you go on the Internet to cure yourself, or do you see a doctor?” asks David Grant of LVM group. “PR is not as simple as it looks, and we know journalists and their deadlines. That is vital in promoting a client.” (Grant was a former journalist, as are many people in the PR business).

“You can always find someone less expensive,” Grant continues. “What’s most important isn’t the cost of the service so much as the quality of the service.  Of course, we can always work on a project basis.  However, it may be more cost-effective and more strategic to undertake public relations holistically, as you would hire an accounting firm. Meaning for the long term — not a quick fix.

“Ironically, one of the most obvious benefits of having a PR firm comes from others’ perceptions of your ability to hire an agency,” Alexander says.  “Publicity as an expert and/or industry leader is impressive to current and prospective clients.”

You might be thinking, can’t I get all the publicity I need from my social media efforts? On that subject Alexander says, “They are like going to networking meetings and conferences — only with 24-hour access. Social marketing has PR value, but it has a different purpose than actual publicity.”

Most mid-sized PR firms charge between $2,500-$10,000 per month, although rates per project vary depending on the nature and size of the project. If paying a monthly retainer is not possible, some firms are willing to work on a project basis.  Generally, public relations contracts extend from three months to a year.

Although PR can be expensive, Alexander stresses the importance of marketing a brand. “Advertising, websites and PR are equally important. Allocate your dollars efficiently.”

Before embarking on your own publicity campaign, consider the costs and benefits of hiring a professional. If it’s within your budget, it might be worth it.

by Steve Viuker

For more info:

The Public Relations Society of America, based in New York City, is the world’s largest organization for public relations professionals. Check out their website, at http://www.prsa.org/aboutUs/


Steve Viuker has been a staff reporter @ Real Estate Weekly and Real Estate New York, and written for the NY Post, the NY Times, TheStreet.com and CNBC.com on investing; small business & real estate. 

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