Is PR worth the cost?

Is PR really an ego spend rather than a direct revenue generator, was a question asked at the Business Exposure Group meeting.

Research by Proctor and Gamble showed PR as the highest return on investment of any marketing tactic with a 270% ROI.

A well planned PR campaign can increase brand recognition, search engine ranking, targeted traffic and sales ready leads.  But many SME’s put unrealistic objectives forward for their PR campaigns, ones that are not easily measurable, such as

  1. attain awareness of our brand by the end of the year, or
  2.  introduce our new service with a bang

It is far better to have measureable objectives, for instance

  1.  get 3 mentions in the business press, or
  2.  ask all new customers how they heard of us and get 10 of these through published articles

The reality for SME’s is that PR is vital, it gets you there, whereas advertising keeps you there.  For little financial commitment either through traditional PR or Social Media a buzz/noise can be made in the marketplace for your business, and if your plan doesn’t seem to be working do not wait until the end of the next quarter to make adjustments, because with the latest downloadable marketing tools we can make adjustments this week.

Many of the members at the meeting shied away from publicity, acknowledging that this was a mistake, and recognising that PR generates business leads, improves staff morale, assists in recruiting new employees and attracts investors. PR is key to positioning our businesses and we should work towards spending 5% of our turnover on PR and Marketing budgets.

Two further questions were raised at the meeting.  Firstly, is it better to use a specialist firm who know how to target PR and have the necessary contacts, or should we do it in-house and pay wages instead.  Most felt that an outsourced specialist with a clear and tight remit was the best cost-effective approach.

The second question was, is Twitter the most effective form of business PR, as it has a low financial entry level and an unparalleled reach capability.  Not everyone was sold on the Twitter approach, citing that few people take it seriously and the majority of users do not know how to make it work for business.

Whilst the debate could have lasted far longer than scheduled at the meeting, all felt the need but many lacked the certainty, of how to run and implement an effective PR campaign.

If you know the answers then please drop me a line, because it’s all a bit of a black art!

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