In the small business world, success rarely happens “overnight.” And when it comes, there’s usually a mid-sized public relations firm behind the scenes, strategically crafting and promoting just the right image – one that attracts more clients, customers, and friends in high places.
According to Odwyer’s PR Report, independent PR firms are growing at a clip of about 20 percent per year. There’s really no mystery to this growth trend, though. A confluence of factors such as Internet technology, workforce mobility and escalating fees charged by larger public relations firms are sending more businesses toward the smaller, more agile PR agencies.
Companies like ours may be categorically growing, but what exactly we do still seems shrouded in mystery, based on the questions we field from many small business owners and executives. If this describes you, read on! This sheds light on how a modern public relations firm can help grow your small business. And equally important, how we can help protect your profitability . . .
Many now-famous companies started out on a small scale and grew by partnering with a savvy PR firm. Two classic examples:
• Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. These two men started out with one little shop on a $12,000 budget. Over the years, with the help of a PR firm, Ben & Jerry’s reached new heights. One of their first, bright PR ideas was to host a free ice cream cone day celebrating their first anniversary. Nearly 30 years later, this brand promotion still takes place, only now on an international scale.
• McDonald’s restaurants’ world-famous mascot, Ronald McDonald, was the brainchild of a PR man. His idea of making the brand stand for a fun, family experience paid off handsomely. This core value was strategized and executed so well, it helped transform a small business chain in the fifties into a Fortune 100 company with global reach.
But modern PR isn’t all food, folks, and fun. Far from it. PR agencies today typically are involved in:
• Strategic public relations,
• Marketing communications,
• Tactical media relations,
• Collateral material development, and
• Event management.
As such, a public relations firm can plan an event for a small business, to engage key audiences, be they moms, teens, financial analysts, or congressmen. These connections can stimulate sales, create new product awareness, or even be instrumental in swaying legislation with implications for your business.
A public relations firm can prepare your spokespeople for media interviews, and knows how to interest the media in covering your news. And more now than ever – in the Internet age – a public relations firm is crucial for monitoring and protecting the online image your company has worked hard to create.
Thanks to the Internet, the PR practice called Reputation Management has exploded. PR firms have always done this, but with so many online review sites and blogs now – each potentially amplifying every customer with a complaint – the need to contract an agency to catch and tackle the blemishes is inescapable. Time and a rare skill set are required to heal the “black eyes” a small business may receive online. Like a malicious computer virus, these threats must be addressed if your company plans to remain profitable.
For brand awareness, increased visibility for key executives, thought leadership and crisis management . . . these are among the reasons a small business should hire a PR firm. A capable public relations agency can provide all of these services and more. Just be sure the “more” includes the capability of helping keep your cyber reputation clean. Only hire a public relations firm that can deliver the value added expertise of the latest online Reputation Management techniques.