Often, they decide to handle PR and marketing themselves. This decision can work out fine, depending on the capabilities of the person handling it, the time he or she has to devote to it, and whether or not there is a clear PR strategy.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Business owners may set up a website, invest in SEO, start a Facebook page and Twitter account, do some advertising and maybe send out a news release or two. They then bemoan the fact that none of these activities have resulted in any significant business opportunities.
By the time they consult a PR firm, they usually have used up a big chunk of their budget and, frankly, their faith in the value of public relations – both of which make it difficult to plan and implement an effective PR program.
Here are a few suggestions to avoid this merry-go-round:
1. Check with owners of other small businesses that provide products or services that are similar to yours. Focus on businesses that have been operating successfully for 3-5 years. What worked for them?
2. Ask other new business owners for recommendations of any public relations firms who understand start-ups.
3. Consult with one or two recommended consultants, but don’t ask for a proposal unless you are seriously planning to hire a firm. If you just want some strategic advice and ideas, pay the firm for the time they will spend doing that.
4. Consider hiring a freelance PR person to help you. Most freelancers have quite a bit of experience before they go out on their own, and their fees are usually quite reasonable.
Why do you need a strategic PR program? Here’s one reason, courtesy of Wendy Marx, CEO of Marx Communications in Trumbull, CT, a fellow member of PR Boutiques International.