How many times have you relayed on something you heard someone else say in a previous conversation, later only to hear that same person pass on what you just said? This is called the third-party effect, and is one of the largest tools of influence people can use.
Welcome to the world of public relations.
Using public relations benefits two-fold for small businesses: it is a cheaper means of promotion than advertising, and it has more justification for the end-user because of the third-party effect. I worked on a consulting job recently for a local small business owner with a small budget; he didn’t have money for a graphic designer and ad placement, so I recommended doing a bit of PR to get his name out. After only a few sent emails, he had a placement in a local newspaper. This was about one quarter of the cost to him than if he would have bought ad space in that same paper.
Small businesses need to use public relations as a primary means of promotion when on a budget. Think of how often we are bombarded with advertisements daily; It takes a very well made advertisement to catch our attention anymore, and small businesses do not have the budget to compete with the larger competitors. Take Facebook for instance: you can buy ad space and get 100,000 impressions, but how many people actually pay attention to Facebook ads? I know I don’t, and neither do any of my friends – one of the most sought after age target markets.
I have worked in public relations for almost two years, and can surely say that it is the most cost effective means for getting out your message. PR is cheaper, more effective, and easier to catch the attention and make a lasting impression of your end-users. One of the largest differences for me as well is it is generally more fun; it sometimes involves events that can benefit a variety of things, including community or charity organizations. I once hosted an event that gave back to the American Lung Association, promoting clean air around San Diego. This event was great because not only did we get to do something fun and worthwhile for the community, but it also served as a promotion tool by landing media coverage, boosting our public image while getting free recognition.
PR is a great tool and a wonderful asset to any company; hire someone to do PR for your business for just 30 days, you will be surprised at how much publicity you will get for a fraction of the cost. Don’t even get me started guerrilla marketing, you might be here for days…