The goals of PR are many but all come back to a desire to grow the business. For many small businesses and startups, PR is seen as a luxury, an activity better pursed by larger, well-funded companies, which is unfortunate. Why exactly? Some of the best stories in the news concern startups and small businesses. Indeed, the benefits of a well-timed story can move the needle for a smaller business in a much more dramatic way then it can for larger ones.
So what exactly are the goals of PR? Here are six good reasons why you may want to talk to a PR agency sooner than later:
Awareness: your brand should take a quantum leap forward in awareness. A good PR campaign can help you get placed in local or national media outlets, depending upon the marketing goals of your business. Sure, an ice cream shop may want to get into the local TV news in hopes of driving new business but what if you swing for the fences and get into a Food Network show? Imagine the attention you’ll receive after that! People will travel long distances just to try something they saw on Food Network. It’s called food tourism. A tech startup focused on cybersecurity, on the other hand, may not care a whit if a local paper writes about it but what if that leads to an investor discovering the startup and leading a 7-figure seed round? Awareness comes in many shapes and sizes and good media coverage can help in both the short and mid-term.
Higher search engine rankings: nothing provides a better boost to your search engine rankings than articles in popular online media outlets with backlinks (URLs pointing back to your website) to your website. Search engines like Google value backlinks from popular, well-trafficked media outlets way more than less credible blogs used by SEO practitioners to get easy, low-cost posts. It’s common knowledge that higher search engine rankings also lead to more website traffic, sales leads and new business.
Leadership: PR can help establish a brand’s leadership status in an industry or geographic market. In marketing it’s called top-of-mind and it leads to more word-of-mouth referrals and fans.
Expert quotes: if you develop a reputation as an expert in your field, you are more likely to receive calls from reporters to comment on trends and breaking news impacting your industry. That reinforces your image as an industry leader and makes you more desirable in the eyes of customers and media alike.
Social sharing: while not a goal of PR per se, a byproduct of a strong PR campaign is buzz in social media. News outlets help feed social media’s voracious appetite for fresh content. Your write-up in local and national news could lead to mentions on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other platforms.
Revenue growth: many businesses see increases in qualified sales leads and new revenue as a result of PR campaigns. Unlike sales campaigns, which have a short-term goal of generating leads based on a purchased list of raw leads, PR campaigns have a long-tail effect. For example, prospective customers doing research may find an article about a company several months after it’s published. That is exactly what happened to MicroAssist, a custom mobile app development company I worked with in July of 2014. I helped MicroAssist announce an app it had developed for the Texas Department of Public Safety that tracks Texas’ most-wanted fugitives, among other things. Eight months later MicroAssist received inquiry from another state in the southwest that wanted to create a similar app for its citizens. With a price tag in the 6-figures per project, getting a new client as a result of a PR campaign is a massive win, not to mention an astronomical ROI.
To sum up, PR is as much about the long-tail, generating awareness and high-quality leads over a longer period of time, as it is about a short-term bump to gain awareness about a new product launch or a new restaurant in town. The ROI is there, it’s just not easy to quantify.
There are a lot of goals for PR to be sure. But at the end of the day it’s about the survival and long-term financial health of your business. Companies that consistently invest in PR over time stand a better chance of attaining market leadership than ones that ignore the inherent value of media coverage.
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech PR agency specializing in communications & strategic inbound marketing for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. If you have any PR or content marketing questions about your business, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.