Why PR Might Be the Wrong Solution for Your Business

Many businesses think PR is a surefire marketing solution. But is it right for your business?

By Krystal Covington

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many businesses have turned to public relations as a means of getting their name out there. But is PR the right solution for your business? It might not be.

I often receive inquiries from early-stage startups and small businesses looking to PR as a strategy to build their clientele. They've usually seen articles about big brands that said they attribute their success to a publicist who landed them a story in a major magazine.

The challenge is that many of these stories are quotes from leaders discussing one of the many facets of their campaigns, and PR was just one of them.

In reality, most companies should really be focusing their limited dollars elsewhere to achieve the revenue growth they want. Here are a few of the areas that should take priority.

Search-engine optimization

According to HubSpot, 49% of users searching online claim they've used Google to find a new product, and SEO drives 1000% more traffic than social media. With SEO, a company can ensure it's pulling in the right users who are likely to buy. Creating unique content for the company's website that provides value and is search-engine optimized will pull in customers at a fraction of the cost per lead as compared to PR. Companies will also have more control over where potential clients find them through Google.

Related: 7 Reasons Why SEO Matters for Every Startup

Digital advertising

For products, digital advertising with retargeting is an excellent way to get results. There are several kinds of conversion-based ads that allow companies to target individuals based on their demographics, online-search habits and intent to buy. With retargeting, advertisers can continue making an impression with these buyers by tracking them across the internet and displaying their ads across mediums such as social media, search, apps, news and magazines.

Related: 5 Digital Advertising Tips That You Need to Know

Content marketing

When potential customers are not currently in the process of purchasing a product, they might still be interested in learning more about related topics. Creating these articles can help your brand cultivate a relationship with your target customers and subsequently build trust necessary for them to make a purchase. Content marketing is more than a solution for supporting search-engine optimization (SEO) in your company: It can be used to implement a customer-centric revenue model by sharing quality information your prospects want to read. Lastly, it provides additional stories to post on social-media channels that can be sponsored to reach more people.

These three marketing areas should be the foundational priority before incorporating PR, which is a long-term strategy that adds value to the credibility and trust portion of your sales cycle.

Related: 7 Content Marketing Tips for New Entrepreneurs

When are you ready for PR?

To put it plainly, PR is expensive. It is so because it's extremely time-consuming, strategic and leans on relationships that take years to curate. You're paying high-level publicists and their team to create connections that they hope will lead to a mention of your company name in news, radio, magazines or podcasts. PR is not guaranteed, and it usually takes months to achieve features, which is why it's really hard for small businesses to stay the course since there's often a lot riding on the results.

That said, there are some professions that should be incorporating PR into their marketing, at least for short-term campaigns throughout the year.

Businesses in B2B services and consulting are premier candidates for PR since the credibility gained by being featured in press helps close deals. For these companies, short-term campaigns can be helpful, but it's valuable to have an ongoing retainer and meet monthly to ideate and share your latest news with your publicist in order to take advantage of upcoming trends and current events. Publicists can also help with finding and applying for awards to help maintain award-winning status.

Ultimately, the choice to incorporate PR into your strategy will largely depend on your budget, business model and the sales process you use for clients.

Krystal Covington

Marketing Consultant at Go Lead Consulting

As a business-growth strategist, Krystal Covington leads a team of publicists and technical specialists to help clients in diverse industries achieve exponential sales growth.

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