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What is the point of public relations?

The greatest catch-22 young companies tend to face in growing and marketing their business is this: you need to grow your brand to make money but have zero money. It’s tempting to think of PR as the preserve of the big multinationals with whopping great marketing budgets. However, big brand names can get away with a more efficient budget. Smaller firms need to spend more on marketing than larger companies to build brand awareness. A larger firm may only spend 6-12% of gross revenue on their marketing budget while start-ups should expect to spend up 12-20% of gross revenue on marketing. Bill Gates once said: “If I had one dollar left, I’d spend it on PR.” Granted he has a bit more money to throw around than the rest of us, but why does he value PR so much? Brand awareness: If no-one knows you’re there, they can’t buy what you’re selling. Buyers: If you’re a brand wanting to gain listings, buyers are going to want to see you supporting your brand. One of the first things they are going to ask to see is PR coverage. It demonstrates demand for your product. Fact. Social proof: Guy Kawasaki sums it up: “Advertising is when you say how great you are. PR is when other people say how great you are. PR is better.” According to a Nielsen study, PR is 90% more effective than advertising at creating purchase intent. Whether you’re a private doctor looking for patients or a drinks brand after customers, your target audience wants to see reviews by objective sources before spending money. What better source than an expert editor at a big-name newspaper or magazine brand? Reach: One article in an online national newspaper can be read by millions of people. For example, The Guardian’s monthly visitor traffic is 138,300,000. That’s millions of potential customers or patients. Cost-effectiveness: PR can be an economical way to reach a large audience in comparison to paid for advertising media placement. One full page in a national newspaper can cost you in excess of £50,000. That is the salary of an inhouse PR manager for one full year. The customer journey: Scroll along to the next bit of this post and look at Google’s customer journey map.

Fundamentally, you need to have a clear understanding of the customer journey of your target audience and be communicating well at each and every touchpoint. PR is just a part of the customer journey. If you are a doctor for example, perhaps a prospective patient becomes aware of you via an interview you give on staying well during the winter months. Perhaps they then Google your name and find your practice. Before they book in for a private consultation with you, they read a bit about you including interviews you have given, Google reviews and so on. Hopefully booking their appointment is simple and straightforward and their experience of you and your clinic is stellar. They are pleased with their experience and write a review. They reaffirm their choice by reading a bit more about your clinic. And so the cycle continues. What PR is not: *PR does not guarantee sales. It is part of the customer journey. *Unlike advertising, you can't exactly control what a journalist is going to write. Your brand needs to be golden. *You can’t control where you are placed, or which media outlets will like the sound of your brand. You can’t just choose Vogue (unfortunately).


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