Ireland’s burgeoning economy and booming start-up culture means there are countless small businesses competing to build awareness. Here’s why PR is a great way for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get noticed.
Most start-ups and SMEs include marketing as part of their business plan, usually a provision for advertising to ‘get the brand out there’. Strangely, however, many small business owners do not think of public relations when they are in launch mode – they should!
Whether you are preparing to launch or already up and running, here’s why PR is effective for SMEs.
PR is an investment in your brand
For both small and large organisations, the main purpose of public relations is to build relationships. Mainly with media but with other influencers too – that will generate positive coverage and awareness for the brand.
Over time, the accumulation of coverage and awareness builds credibility, trust and brand reputation among your customers and target audiences. All of these helps to deliver sales, success and profitability.
Stitching a PR strategy into your business plan is a long-term investment in your brand’s reputation. If you are serious about that reputation, PR is definitely the way to go.
PR delivers results
PR is not a quick-fix, nor is it something that can simply be turned on and off like other marketing disciplines. As a means of earning coverage, however, it is unparalleled in delivering results.
This is chiefly because the sort of coverage that PR generates carries more credibility than, say, paid media (e.g. advertising). While you have less control over exactly how your messages are reported, those messages are appearing in an editorial context and therefore carry much greater weight and trust than the quarter-page ad that appears beside your article.
By working with reporters and journalists, you are effectively ensuring that your story comes with independent, third-party verification – value added.
PR is highly cost-effective
Advertising is the communications activity with which PR is most commonly compared. For us, there’s no comparison – not only is PR far less expensive than advertising, it’s also far more effective.
In 2014 Nielsen carried out a study which found that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising. Case closed!
The continuous nature of PR enhances its cost-effectiveness. When an ad campaign is over, it’s over – gone. PR-generated media coverage, particularly online articles, reviews, stories and commentary, remains long after the publication date so can lead to sales and growth for weeks, months or even longer.
PR contributes to the bottom line
Understandably, most start-ups or SMEs are under immediate, constant pressure to generate sales. This is perhaps why advertising is a tempting prospect – it’s tangible, you can see it, so it must be doing something, right?
Maybe, maybe not. PR is less obvious than advertising, but as we’ve explained, it’s no less effective (the opposite in fact). What PR does is help your company become known, accepted and eventually trusted by the very people you are trying to reach, because they are reading about you in a context they know and trust – media that is relevant to them.
In this way, PR is actually filling up the top of your sales funnel with leads who understand what your brand is about and what it can do for them. One good article in the ‘right’ place can result in a big sales spike, plus of course more awareness – and more leads.
With PR, you’re ready for anything
The building-block nature of public relations, where you are constantly developing content and contacts, means you will be in a much better position if you ever hit a bump in the road.
Particularly if you are working with a PR agency, a big part of your strategy will be the assembly of a communications toolkit designed to keep your messages ticking over while at the same time preparing for potential issues or crises. And if you do hit that bump in the road, you’ll have built up enough trust and understanding to deal with it.
Talk to us about how PR can help you
Many Irish start-ups and SMEs have already found that good PR can easily overcome the eternal challenges of small budgets and lack of recognition. If you’d like to discuss how PR can help your brand to become successful and sustainable, we’d be only too happy to talk.