How to Make Money in a Recession With the Help of Public Relations

Tough economic times are precisely the times that you want to reach out to and stay in front of your target market. They are also challenging times marketing-wise because you also need to be frugal and savvy with your marketing budget. Studies have shown that companies that stop all marketing during a recession are those that fair the poorest not only during the recession, but in the long run. So, there is your dilemma, you need to promote your company, reach your market and not overly-strain your budget.

You have a number of choices to consider from advertising and direct marketing to public relations and online marketing. All forms of promotion have their upsides, but your job is to find the marketing avenue that is the most advantageous for you and your company. During rough times consumers and clients are particularly focused on companies that they can trust. Sure cost savings is a big deciding factor, but credibility becomes more important than ever.

That is where public relations becomes such an important marketing tool. Through it, you reach your target market and gain the validation and credibility of being featured in the news. Also cost-wise, PR can be much more cost effective than a concerted advertising campaign. Both require consistency. You can’t run one ad or send out one press release and expect to really benefit from either, but going the PR route offers you a number of different avenues. You can pitch the local, regional and national media. You can develop a number of different story ideas, from a product or service-based story, to a local human interest story, to a national trend story. You can present yourself as an expert in your field. You can tailor make pitches for radio, TV and print. You have the entire media world that you can pitch your story to. Then, as you garner media placement, you can feature your media hits on your website, on your blog and on various social media sites. Touch economic times are times that call for you to be both proactive and creative. So, take a deep breath, and move forward. Study the various media outlets; see what stories they run with. Now, come up with effective story ideas that meet both the media’s needs and yours. Even in the toughest of times, one well-placed story on you and your company can make all the difference.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2009

What Are Public Relations

The unofficial definition of Public Relations (PR) is the public maintenance of the positive image of your company, and the steps you take to add value to your brand and continuously improve your client relations. These can include donations, sponsorship, alliances, events, volunteering and other acts that are considered to be more about the benefit to the public than the increase of your sales.

Public Relations are about creating and maintaining positive relationships.

Why are Public Relations hard to define? People often confuse Public Relations with marketing. While PR is a form of marketing, it generally consists of focused attention from third-party sources that create indirect advertising or promotion of you or your company. If a newspaper does a piece about your community practices, or your commitment to a cause, that is focused attention. Your audience will pay more attention to you because it is not a direct advertising campaign crafted my your sales department. An outside source has recommended you or your services as trustworthy and valuable. Through your public practices, you’ve created human interest by being recognized for your ethical practices or charitable efforts.

Public Relations are about creating a company people want to do business with.

The public loves a great story, and good PR is creating and telling a great story in the most compelling way. The better and more positive the story, the more likely you will be accepted and the more valuable your public relations will become. The best Public Relations coverage is spontaneous, but it’s also possible to create a well-structured PR plan and follow it.

When you start your Public Relations campaign, keep in mind the marketing side of your strategy. Your story has to be appealing to your potential clients otherwise all the PR in the world won’t help you sell your products. Keep the public informed, and don’t hide anything from them. Make them feel as though they are a part of your organization, and take them seriously. They are your investors. Don’t make them regret their choice to invest in your company.

Stick to one mission, and stand by one message.

Public relations are an attempt at improvement. Whether you have decided to improve your internal functioning, customer services, brand image, or public identity, ensure that your goals are clear and attainable. Take a stand on issues that affect your audience, and make sure that your efforts are recognized. Send Press Releases and contact journalists to see if they are interested in your story.

Good PR reinforces your reputation as a company that makes good decisions, protects their customers, and gives back to the community. To maintain positive PR, protect your reputation and evaluate all of your actions carefully. Don’t participate in anything that your public may consider questionable or controversial. Evaluate the possible outcomes of your PR decisions, and make sure they align with your mission and preferred public image.

Public Relations are a valuable investment. A commitment to invest your time and resources to create a positive experience for your customers will solidify your relationships, and provide unmeasured benefits for you both.

5 Public Relations Myths Debunked

Myth #1: You need “contacts” to garner publicity.

My Response: This is one of the most common fallacies about PR. Why? The reason is simple. I suspect it’s because many PR firms tout their media connections when offering their services to a potential client.

Media contacts do help sometimes. However, you can accomplish your goals without them. A lot depends on the story you have to offer, the angle of your story, the timing, and the relevancy of your information or area of expertise. If your idea or pitch lacks the essential ingredients for an article or broadcast segment, you are unlikely to get coverage. Each time you gain media exposure, add the editor’s name to your database. Don’t forget to send a short and sincere thank you note.

Myth #2: You can’t buy PR with Advertising.

My Response: I dare to disagree with the above statement. Sometimes you CAN buy publicity with advertising, but not with high-quality publications. Small magazines with little editorial integrity may give advertisers preferential treatment. However, the quality of responses might not be worth of your time and effort.

Myth #3: PR promotions do not work without follow up.

My Response: I am convinced that follow up is important. Some busy editors or reporters can easily overlook your materials. Therefore, your follow up call or email may get them to consider your story. That being said, a well-written and well-targeted press release will do the trick.

Myth #4: Editors want to be wined and dined.

My Response: It is totally unnecessary! Of course you may come across an editor who will gladly agree to have lunch with you at a posh restaurant or accept tickets to a basketball game. In most cases, though, editors prefer to keep PR sources at arm’s length. A simple thank you note or respectful attitude will suffice.

Myth #5: Publicity will bring you tons of new clients, customers, or patients.

My Response: Even if you get great press coverage, it doesn’t mean that people will rush out to buy your product or use your service. Here is what PR does. It creates a favorable image or perception about your business. It enhances your status and makes you look more professional and trustworthy. People might remember your name after reading about it in a newspaper. So when a need arises, they are more likely to reach out to you. One PR expert says: ” Everyone has an impression about your business. Without publicity, that impression might be a zero awareness.”

Final Thoughts: Publicity has to be managed carefully. Media research, follow up, writing, checking — it all takes time and supervision. The key to success is regular media coverage, so when your prospects think of what you offer, it’s your company and not your competitor that gets the call or email.

Angela Kambarian is a marketing strategist, public relations consultant and copywriter. If you have any questions or comments about the article or need help with your marketing, please visit http://www.kambarian.com or call (516) 889-8636