When small business owners create a business plan they often include advertising but neglect to include public relations, one of the most cost-effective methods for small businesses to raise awareness. I think that the reason is simple – we encounter advertising on a daily basis so it is more familiar, but many are unaware of the role that PR plays in the articles they read. In most cases, public relations is much less expensive than advertising, and can be incredibly valuable to a small business. Depending on how hard you’re willing to work, PR can even be free. Small businesses have tight budgets and will typically get more for their money when choosing PR over advertising.
If you’re a small business that’s weighing the benefits of advertising vs. public relations, here are some reasons why you should consider making public relations a cornerstone of your company’s growth strategy.
When a consumer sees third party coverage of a product or service, it is perceived much differently than a traditional advertisement. When we see an advertisement, we know the company is trying to sell us something. When a third party, such as the media, endorses a product or service, the company gains credibility. Consumers are much more likely to make a purchase based on third party endorsement than an advertisement.
A consistent public relations program will help build general awareness of your product, service or brand and will supplement any direct marketing and advertising efforts. This visibility also tends to make your business appear larger and more established than it may be, which may help you secure partnerships, customers and funding.
Chances are the last time you made a purchase you used a search engine to do some online research. Public relations can help you capitalize on this process. An article at on online news outlet, a broadcast clip posted online, or a news release distributed to web outlets – all of these provide valuable inbound links to your website that increase your rank in Google. A news release distributed by PR Newswire is delivered to more than 5,500 Web sites and online services such as Yahoo!, AOL and MSN.com, and the release can be further optimized for search engine visibility utilizing keywords..
PR is also good for your bottom line. PR is much less expensive than advertising and the benefits of PR can be much more substantial than the benefits of advertising. One good media placement can lead to a substantial increase in sales and tremendous growth, and because many small businesses have a unique story to tell, they are interesting to the media.