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PR, if done well, is the most cost effective form of marketing you’ll ever do. You can reach a large number of stakeholders, differentiate your business from the competition and gain credibility in a competitive market.

The economic downturn presents your business with an opportunity. Chances are your competitors are cutting their marketing or PR budgets, so it’s time for you to grab that market share and make your voice heard. We’re all consumers and we still need to buy goods and services, so if we don’t know your company exists how are we going to buy from you?

If you do decide to go ahead and engage a PR agency or consultant, consider the 10 points below to ensure you get the most bang for your buck!

1.    Be prepared to invest some time with your PR agency. PR unfortunately isn’t something you can ‘go away and do’. If your PR agency understands your business objectives, they are more likely to be able to identify media opportunities for you, respond to media requests, draft comment on your behalf or develop opinion piece ideas.

2.    Be opinionated. Have you got views on what is going on in your industry? Can you react quickly to current events happening in the media? If you can, there are opportunities to respond to journalist’s articles or talkback programs on the radio for example.

3.    Give it time. You have appointed the PR agency for their expertise. Wait at least three months before you review the PR program and don’t forget, monthly magazines have long lead times. What you might submit for a feature in January may not come out until March.

4.    Be targeted. If budget is tight, brief your PR agency to target one industry sector at a time for example or a few key business publications. Perhaps there is a particular magazine in your industry you think is widely respected that you would like your business to be included in?

5.    Listen. It’s not all about media releases and case studies. There are so many other PR tactics to influence your audiences from roundtable events, to blogging and speaking opportunities, so look to your PR agency for ideas and embrace them.

6.    Set key PR objectives. What do you want your PR campaign to deliver? Ensure your PR objectives are tied into your business objectives and agree these at the start.

7.    Evaluate. PR often gets the ‘thin end of the wedge’ when it comes to marketing budgets because it’s difficult to measure. However, ask your PR agency to evaluate your campaign at six month intervals if possible to see if you’re on the right track and getting value for money.

8.    Be honest. Have you got an interesting story to tell? If you haven’t you could save yourself and the PR agency valuable time and money. Have you won any new business recently? Do you work with companies that will engage in a case study? Do you work in an interesting industry or have you set up your own?

9.    Do your homework. Decide on your messages and stick to them. How are you different? A good PR agency will be able to help you do this, but you need these to get the best out of your media interviews and materials.

10.    Use your media coverage. What’s the point of it being stuck in a folder? It’s so valuable and you’ve invested time and money in getting it, so use it in your sales pitches, include links to online coverage on your website and send it to your existing customers or prospects.

If you’re realistic about what you want to achieve through working with a PR agency and are prepared to commit the resources, use the economic downturn to your advantage and gain significant profile for you and your business.

Jocelyn Hunter is the Director at BENCH PR (www.benchpr.com.au

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Jocelyn Hunter

Jocelyn Hunter

Jocelyn is the managing director of BENCH PR, a public relations agency that specialises in the business to business and technology markets.

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