Q: I've heard that PR is very cost-effective marketing, but does that mean just sending out press releases?

A: Yes, PR is extremely cost-effective. Often the cost is zero, but PR is not limited to just sending out press releases.

Your visibility will increase with powerful publicity. Publicizing your business, you or your services will help increase the value of each to you and your whole target audience. The idea is that publicity will bring the news of your company to the world, online or off. The basic weapons you can use to do this are a press kit, a company background piece, press releases, story ideas, and articles or columns about your firm. As you can see, there are many vehicles to distribute through the media, even though the most important of all is the press release.

A press kit can include the background piece, press releases, photos, story ideas, reprints of previous articles about your business, a list of customer references and anything else the news media might find newsy. If you provide the media with news that will appeal to their readers, you will gain instant credibility and have a valuable promotional relationship. This can be very powerful from a marketing point of view.

A publicity campaign should begin with a master plan. The more newsworthy you make your company, the more coverage you'll get. And publicity will earn credibility that advertising just can't buy. Your goals should be uniqueness, timeliness and top-of-the-mind awareness. With publicity and visibility, your company profile rises, as do your client and prospect level. One successful story about your company can result in free publicity worth hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Part of managing the total marketing campaign and especially the public relations portion is supplying the media with a unique story that will grasp their reader and viewer audiences. Press releases also have a dramatic impact on customers and your targeted prospects.

PR is one of the most cost-effective parts of marketing that an organization can undertake. The cost is in the development of an organized campaign and the writing and distribution of press releases-there is usually no cost associated with printed pieces or placement into publications.

There is definitely a knack to writing a newsworthy press release, even though sometimes the goal is awareness and promotion. Editors do not like promotion, so crafting a press release to appeal to an editor is key. There is no guarantee that your story will ever be published, but with a consistent professional, newsworthy approach with editors of reputable publications, the probability is good that you'll gain some publicity. Press releases are also great vehicles for communicating with clients and prospects. Putting them on your Web site is a very effective means of promotion to your captive markets. It also further substantiates your credibility in your field.


Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.com and http://www.1-800-inkwell.com, or e-mail him at al@market-for-profits.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.