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Six reasons why small businesses need PR

When you run a small business, you take on a huge amount of responsibility. In the beginning, and often for a long time after, you do the work of many individuals in larger companies. You might have skills in lots of areas; however, when the business starts to grow, you need to be able to focus. If you can’t afford full- or part-time time staff, or there isn’t enough work for somebody on a permanent basis, using an agency can be a good solution.

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Using a PR agency

PR is a good example of an activity that can be outsourced very successfully, either long term or for a specific project or campaign. A food PR agency, for example, will know what journalists will be looking for and will have a list of contacts to help obtain coverage for your business.

The PRCA Public Relations and Communications Agency) defines public relations as “the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build a positive reputation and public image.” PR is about getting attention and publicity, free of charge, which is a definite advantage for a small business with a limited budget.

Here are six reasons why small businesses need PR:

1. Low cost

PR can be relatively inexpensive and certainly offers a good return on investment when done well, often equating to an advertising spend higher than many brands could afford. Gaining coverage is a bigger investment in time than in money, although obviously cost is a factor.

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2. Efficiency

Word of mouth has long been the most trusted form of advertising, with editorial seen as more reliable than an advertisement. A favourable mention can be very powerful.

3. Ongoing visibility

Mentions stick around, while an advertisement has a shelf life. Any links can continue to be shared for years to come, which can continue to rank your product or business name highly with the search engines.

4. PR complements your marketing

PR should be in addition to rather than instead of marketing and should complement it. As part of an integrated campaign, PR is a tactic that can be used to further build awareness of your brand; for example, a strong food PR agency can have a huge impact.

5. Strategic direction

A lot of PR can be down to good reputation management and being prepared for if and when things turn sour and there is negative coverage. Having a strategy and procedures in place can minimise the impact and even turn a negative into a positive. The University of Oxford has some guidance on preparing for a crisis.

6. Build relationships

More than any other tactic, PR is all about building relationships over time. The results are worth the investment of routine and regular time.

The key to PR is to offer something to your audience that gives them added value, that teaches them something, or that gives them something useful or inspiring. This is achieved through careful planning.

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