Is Public Relation Too Expensive?

Public Relation (PR) is often referred to as free marketing. issue a media (press) release to your local media outlets and enjoy an increased interest in your brand of chiropractic.

First, PR is not free marketing. Second, like any form of marketing, PR requires a strategic and tactical plan, if any chance of success can be expected.

Many Chiropreneurs attempt PR marketing primarily for the allure of free marketing. But, as is often the case, you get what you pay for. Free marketing never is absolutely free.

If you have ever distributed a media release, your experience may have been disappointing. It is not uncommon to send a media release and not a single mention in your local media.

Before you embark on a PR campaign to grow your practice, you must first ascertain what desired outcome you expect. And, to determine that, you need to fully understand the difference between PR and Advertising.

The primary desired outcome of an advertising campaign is to attract new patients. The primary purchase of PR is to provide information of interest to the news media in your marketplace. Advertising purpose is making a “sale,” a new patient and PR is sharing “information.”

Let’s explore an example:

First, you need to know how much your time is worth. How much does your practice compensate you for each hour you dedicate to the office? If you expect to earn $240,000 per annum, and you work 30 hours per week and take four weeks vacation, then your value per hour would be $173.

The average amount of time to research, prepare, proof and distribute a media release could be three hours. Three times your $173 hourly rate would be $519. The cost of a photography to enclose with the release, envelopes, reproduction and postage, and time to assembly and you can calculate your total cost of this free marketing activity.

Maybe you have twelve media outlets in your marketplace including newspaper, magazine, radio and television. After monitoring the media, (another cost for the effort), you discover that only a neighborhood weekly picked up your release and gave you some ink.

The results: no calls, no new patients, and few people mentioned seeing your “press.” Your ROI (return on investment) in this case is -100%!

Now, if you invested the same $519+ into an actual advertisement, and with the right headline, design and message you only get one new patient, your ROI will be 100% or more!

As you can see, your free marketing could be too expense!

The Case for PR

However, there are some solid reasons why PR should be included in your marketing mix, and none have anything to do with free.

PR, like any form of marketing, requires a consistent and repetitive plan. You cannot send out a media release once or a few times per year and expect any impact on the practice. But, a sustained and planned PR plan can provide tremendous benefits to your visibility and recognition as the “expert” in your marketplace.

Just as you grow your practice by building relationships with your patients, you must do the same with editors and publishers in your marketplace. You must make an effort to connect with the gatekeepers of local news.

And, you must never try to use these connections to advertise your brand of chiropractic, but to help their readers, viewers and listeners learn more about your areas of expertise.

One PR technique is to offer your local newspaper a weekly column on healthcare issues. This is the right time to share and your donate your expertise to the community by providing a health and wellness article that is published each week. At the end of the year, you will have 52 articles published that you can use to create a BOOK!

Use the book as a promotional tool for your other marketing efforts, which will increase the perception that you are the expert… a very important component for enhancing your marketing efforts.

Peak your practice with PR.

What is the Difference Between Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations?

Though marketing, advertising and public relations can all be integral to the success of your company and they all have some glaring similarities in how they can help your company succeed on some level; each is indeed a different element, approached in a different way in order for it to work the way it is supposed to work in an effort to reach an ultimate goal.

Marketing could be considered the whole ball of wax in this equation. A company’s marketing department could be subdivided into several smaller sections that operate as separate entities, but all work toward the same ultimate goal – which is the success and growth of the company.

A company’s marketing department could, and should include smaller departments that are responsible for: public relations, advertising, customer service, market share research as well as pricing, distribution and product placement.

The piece of the equation that is advertising has the sole responsibility of putting your product or service where the public can see it. Advertising lets the consumer know what it is that you have to offer, then lets them know why exactly they need it. A company could pay a pretty penny for advertising; in fact the advertising budget is often the largest part of the marketing plan’s expenditure. As the saying goes, “you have to spend money to make money.”

Public relations can make prospective consumers want to buy your product or your service, but public relations is a much less direct approach to gaining sales than advertising. The point of public relations is to highlight all of the positive things that your company does and is involved in, while simultaneously keeping anything that could possibly be construed as a negative out of the public eye. It is the public relations departments’ responsibility to make the company look good in the public eye and they will take several routes and measures to get there. A public relations department may schedule charity events, distribute press releases highlighting company achievements or company community efforts and schedule public speaking appearances at educational or industry seminars – anything that can put the company under a good light while in the public eye is the public relations department’s main concern.

The company marketing plan is how both of these integral parts of business come together, along with several other aspects, to ensure company success and growth. Each individual focal point of the marketing department is integral to the success of the marketing plan.

Market research, which is probably the most intensive piece of the puzzle, will determine exactly who your target customers are.

With this information in hand, the product or service that you are offering can be priced accordingly for the target audience. Once pricing is established, the advertising department can begin its job of getting the word out that your company has a service to offer. Depending upon the advertising budget, this can be done in many ways: through television, radio, print ads, billboards and/or flyers pointed directly toward the target customer.

The PR company departments’ work can coincide with the advertising departments, to ensure that the company is being viewed by the potential consumer in an overall positive light while the flood of advertisements are reaching the target audience. Working every angle of public relations along with following a sound advertising campaign will ensure that the most positive message possible reaches the masses of your target audience of customers.

Once the customers are reached and desirous of the company has to offer, details like distribution of product and inventory management are put into place to ensure that the service or product is always available and delivered on time.

From the above description, advertising and public relations may just seem like small pieces of the overall marketing puzzle, but without them the marketing plan could never fully be realized and the company’s success would suffer accordingly.

Public Relations As A Strategic Tool To Integrate With Your Marketing Efforts

Integrated marketing communications is a very effective tool for all businesses. The integration of advertising, marketing and public relations is much more strategic than pursuing each of those elements separately. The old traditional use of advertising as the principal means of promotion for business is no longer effective. In my business coaching experience I have seen too many companies wasting significant resources by following an advertising strategy that does not work because it does not reach their target audience, has an emphasis on the “glitz and technology” rather than an emphasis on content, and is simply misdirected.

Public relations is often overlooked and/or under-valued as part of a strategic marketing plan. Public relations needs to be integrated into a strategic marketing
campaign. The leveraging of public relations will allow your positioning statement (market differentiator) to be integrated into an objective, third party coverage in the media. An article or feature story in one of your targeted business media will be more effective than a traditional ad in the same publication. And with the technology available to us today, especially the Internet, public relations can be an even more powerful strategic tool in your marketing efforts.

So, if the Internet can make your public relations more effective, what are some of the things you should remember to do regarding your public relations efforts on the Internet. Here are a few suggestions from your strategic thinking business coach.

+ Listen, read and learn from what is happening on the web. Research what is out there in the online media.

+ Integrate your public relations material onto your website and make sure you include your website address on all your news releases and all other company communications.

+ Be consistent in all your public relations efforts online and offline.

+ Use a wire service where their distribution provides a great fit for getting your message to your target market. Make sure the distribution includes print, electronic and online media, as appropriate.

+ Expand your news release distribution out directly to your clients, prospects, key influencers and other stakeholders.

+ Understand key words and ensure that they are being used strategically in all your communications.

+ Leverage your Internet coverage. Create re-prints of your positive media coverage and send email links of the coverage to employees, clients, prospects, and other stakeholders.

Adopting a strategy of integrating public relations into your marketing efforts is required to implement a successful marketing campaign. A strategic marketing plan using an integrated marketing communications strategy will greatly increase your company visibility across all communication channels and will earn you more dramatic results.

Public Relations As A Strategic Tool To Integrate With Your Marketing Efforts
By: J. Glenn Ebersole, Jr., Chief Executive of J. G. Ebersole Associates and The Renaissance Group (TM)