What is PR?

Public Relations is the practice of managing communication between a brand or business and the public.  Using creative business strategies, effective public relations creates key messages that a brand or business wants communicated and utilizes positive press and news stories to effectively communicate their brand or business message to the public.

Why is PR important?

Public Relations is one of the most important tools to a business.  The practice allows you to effectively communicate your message to target consumers by way of media and community outreach.  An effective public relations campaign will create a buzz around your brand or business and position your brand or business prominently in the public’s eye.

What can PR do for your business?

Public Relations will create a BUZZ around your brand or business, putting your company in the mind of a target consumer.  Whether you want to increase sales of a new beauty product or gain awareness for a charitable organization, public relations will effectively communicate your company’s objective through press and community outreach, providing you with measurable sales results.

What should a company have in a press kit?

An important public relations tool for a brand or company is the press kit.  The press kit will be your first line of offense or defense with the media and will be key in effectively communicating your brand’s message to members of the press.  A press kit should include:  Biography of key players at your company, a company history or profile, a company fact sheet that communicates important facts in an easy-to-read format, fact sheets on key company products, past positive press clippings.

How can a company get into the media on their own?

If you are already working with a PR agency then you can rest assure that they are hard at work pitching you out to their contacts.  Your PR agent will create a story “hook” for your business, making your company look more news worthy.

If you do not have public relations firm working for you, then the best thing that you can do is to brainstorm ideas about your company that are “newsworthy.”  Are you holding a V.I.P. event to benefit a local charity?  Are you coming out with a brand new product?  Brainstorm interesting company happenings and leverage this news to pitch to the media.

How can a company get print exposure?

The best way to get the media exposure that you want is to do your research.  Pick up a copy of the paper or magazine that you would like to see your company featured in and read it to get a feel for the type of news and feature items that they regularly report on.    Research contacts at the publication and look at their past work so you have a feel for their writing style and preferred topics- you don’t want to pitch a technology reporter about a new beauty product (unless of course it’s Steve Jobs who created the product).  After you’ve done your research, you should feel comfortable pitching a specific reporter your news items- call them on the phone to establish an introduction and then follow-up with a courteous email that details your story idea.

Having a presence at consumer shows and events.

Depending on the type of business, consumer shows and events can be an excellent public relations tool that you can leverage to promote your brand.  PR events are a great way to get you exposure among the community and your target consumer, but be sure to do your research and choose to get involved with events that best fit your target demographic.  When presenting at a show or event make sure to have plenty of business cards on hand and be friendly to everyone that stops by to see your booth- you never know who will be your next “big spender” consumer or who will be an influential member of the media!

What to look for in a PR firm?

There are literally thousands of public relations firms in the United States alone, so when you getting ready to hire someone to handle your public relations keep in mind the following criteria for your agency.

Location:  If you are a local Los Angeles business that is looking for regional press and community outreach only, then try to find a PR agency that can focus on that demographic for you.  Local agencies will already be well connected to the right press in that region and it will make it easier for you to get featured.

Size:  As far as public relations agencies go, bigger is not always better!  Make sure that you choose a PR firm with a size that you are comfortable with.  Would you like to have a PR “Powerhouse” with 100+ employees working on your brand, or would you be more comfortable with a boutique sized agency that is a more intimate setting?  A boutique firm with under 10 employees can sometimes do just as good a job, if not better, than the bigger PR firms.  Boutique firms are also able to provide you with hands-on service and attention that some bigger firms may lack.

Experience:  Choose a PR agency that has experience with your company’s industry.  If an agency focuses in beauty and fashion they may not be best suited to represent your pharmaceutical company to the media.  A large portfolio of random clients doesn’t always mean they are an “expert” in a chosen industry.  Be sure to look at their past clients and find out their years of experience in each industry.

Results:  Take a look at an agency’s past results to find out what you might expect for your business.  An agency with a proven track record for media success will be happy to share their clip book with you.  Remember, that public relations is not an exact science and what works for one client may not work for another, but if a good agency will find a way to get your company in the media, no matter what hurdles you may face.

What are the fees normally for PR firms?

Public Relations firm fees can vary from state-to-state and depends on the types of services that you need.  Usually based on a monthly retained fee, a firms service fee can include various types of media including national print and broadcast, regional print and broadcast and online media.  Dependant on the firm’s size your account may have between two and five employees working in harmony to ensure your company is properly leveraged to both the media and the public.  An all-encompassing public relations campaign will include a mix of public relations, special events and social media communication management.

If you’re a small business with an extremely limited budget, a public relations consultant may be the right choice to handle your public relations needs.  A public relations consultant is an independent contractor that is usually hired on an hourly or project-to-project basis to handle the pr needs for a company.

The overall benefits of PR

The great thing about public relations is that it can produce measurable results for your company.  When a great news story comes out about your business, you are able to feel the affects with increased traffic or revenue.  Effective public relations allows you to create a buzz around your brand and engage consumers in your company.  Not all press is good press- public relations should be used to create a positive energy surrounding your company- whether it is through community outreach or press stories.