A Little PR Can Go a Long Way Toward Branding Your Business

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For those of you who don’t know much about PR, let me take a few minutes to share what I’ve learned over my 10-plus year career at four different PR agencies in NYC and Los Angeles. In short, PR CAN BE HUGE in terms of branding your business!!

From my experiences supporting dozens of B2B companies, I can tell you that PR should stand for “Publicity Received” since it is all about ink and airtime in the end. Virtually every function a true PR agency will provide is all about getting visibility for your business in print, online and broadcast media. Every press release, contributed article, media alert, pitch letter, “letter to the editor”, pitch call and conference call is all about leveraging media for FREE product/service/brand placement.

I am a tremendous believer in the power of Public Relations. Like oil and water, sometimes us PR professionals get into tiffs with advertising professionals. It always goes something like this:

“PR isn’t effective.”

“No, advertising isn’t effective.”

“Yeah, but PR is free and benefits from 3rd party media endorsement.”

“Yeah, but advertising allows you to control the message and can be extremely pervasive.”

“Okay but PR doesn’t cost a lot of money.”

“Okay but advertising can be viewed again and again and again. PR is typically viewed only once.”

…And on and on.

The brutal truth is that both branding disciplines can definitely help a business improve mind share and market share. It just depends on what you are trying to achieve. In my opinion (and that of many of my PR brethren), PR on its own or in conjunction with an integrated marketing/communications/advertising campaign can pay huge dividends. In fact, it can easily more than pay for itself – even if you enlist the services of a high-priced big-city firm. In the heyday of the high-flying dotcom era (circa 1998-2000), the firm I worked for in NYC was pulling in between $25k-$50k per client each month. Today you can get highly effective, down and dirty PR from an agency in the burbs for anywhere from $2500 to $10,000.

With a single media placement in a magazine, newspaper, on a radio/TV station or on a highly trafficked website, you can earn your money many times over. Imagine you’re paying a PR agency $2500 a month to write a couple press releases announcing your new products or even partnerships, for example and pitching ink for you. Let’s say that only a single story is written as a result and it appears in a relevant industry magazine. The article is about your latest product, includes a photo and a quote from you. This is very likely to happen these days even if the news isn’t all that newsworthy. Now, the equivalent cost of that one-page “third party media endorsement” (written by an editor, not by you – hence, more credible) could be anywhere from $3,000 on the low end (typically) to $8500 or more depending on the readership of the publication. See! Just like that you earned your $2500 back and have thousands in branding equity to boot.

Furthermore, you can then post a link to that story on your website and even in your email newsletter and get even more mileage out of it. You can also get a PDF reprint (maybe $1,000 – $3,000 or so) of the story and leverage it in your sales efforts.

To summarize, a little PR can pay huge dividends in terms of client and prospect visibility and credibility for an affordable fee that you can likely recoup in viable business benefit.

By Kevin B. Levi
Winning Message LLC
www.winningmessage.com
www.muckrakeronline.com

Comments

  1. I think the best part of PR is attracting a large audience, through news targeted to your business or website. The fact that PR shines light on your personal brand and corporate identity helps you really drive business.

  2. Good advice here, Kevin. And I say this from more than 30 years in the public relations businhess, including stints at 2 small and 2 large p.r. agencies here in NY, plus 16 years heading my own boutique shop.

    I think more ad people are now recognizing the role and the power of p.r. I used to have those fights with ad agency folks, who would belittle p.r. effectiveness and treat us like we were small potatoes.

    Back around 1980, when I was directing the p.r. work for L’eggs hosiery, the ad agency, Dancer Fitzgerald Sample (now Saatchi) wanted to grab our p.r. budget (under $200,000) for themselves, even as they were spending around $16 million for the client. They convinced the client to do an advertising equivalency evaluation, to see what the free time and space would have cost had it been purchjased as ads. We resisted at first, saying it’s comparing apples and oranges. But the client went ahead with the evaluation.

    According to the ad agency’s calculation, our $200,000 brought more than $2 million in space and time. And that doesn’t factor in the credibility factor, of course.

    Now, I find the tables have turned and I’ve had several ad agencies refer me to their clients for public relations support to complement the ad agency’s efforts.

  3. Dan,

    Thanks for the comment. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Best,
    Kevin

  4. David,

    Brilliant comments. Ahh, the old ad equivalence debate. I love when it comes down to that. I can’t think of an occasion when the PR didn’t more than pay for itself infinite times over!

    Glad to see people with your level of experience and expertise weighing in on this blog. Insight from professionals of your caliber only adds to the tremendous information exchange here! Thanks again for commenting!!

    Best,
    Kevin