Why use PR?

In today’s business climate it is more important than ever to spend money wisely and get maximum value. This is especially true when it comes to promotion, which is why businesses are increasingly turning their attention to public relations. A programme of proactive PR is the most cost-effective way of reaching the optimum target audience in the shortest possible time and is cheaper than advertising alone.

Whether you are a franchisor or a franchisee, you need to promote your business so it can grow. You could have the best business in the world, but no-one will ever know unless you tell them.

You need to tell your prospective franchisees, existing network, customers and potential customers what is going on in your business. Tell them what you do and what you can offer them. Tell them what makes your business special, unique and better than the competition. Tell them why they need you!

Don’t forget that you should always keep updating your presence on www.whichfranchise.com with news, information, new appointments and franchisee case studies. Similarly, keep loading this material on to your own website.

If you’ve ever wondered why some companies, even small ones, seem to be constantly in the news, it’s probably because they understand the value of continuous proactive PR. Of course, you can do it yourself if you are prepared to devote enough time to doing it properly, something that many business advisors neglect to tell you. You might be a brilliant entrepreneur but hopeless about the discipline of writing down the nitty-gritty of news and developments within your business. You could have a go but is that really the best use of your time and talents? You are likely to find it more cost-effective to use a specialist PR company to help you.

News and information published by newspapers, magazines and e-zines, as well as broadcast on radio or TV, all appear to be independent endorsements by journalists. In actual fact, the material that reaches the public ultimately is being “fed” constantly to the media for consideration by PR people or multi-tasking company directors.

People sometimes think PR is “free” advertising or spin, especially after reading about how the government and other public bodies manipulate the media and the growing tendency to ‘bury’ bad news.

The essence of effective PR is getting the right message to the right people in the right format at the right time. In other words, it’s very important to understand how the media works, what journalists need and when, and what makes a good story. It’s also important to remember that editors and journalists are always very busy and work to strict deadlines.

Competition for editorial attention is intense and stories are ruthlessly rejected, so the more you can do to make journalists’ lives easier by providing relevant and interesting material in a readily useable form, the more likely it is to be used.

To succeed with DIY PR you must move PR up your list of business priorities because it requires time and attention to detail. Even the most charismatic PR naturals like Richard Branson, Simon Cowell and Boris Johnson or the Beckhams have teams of professionals to advise and guide them – and do all the legwork.

Media-popular topics for businesses include awards, successes and achievements - particularly against the odds -, new employment opportunities, all types of events from business open days to Christmas bazaars, regeneration of neglected urban and rural areas, human interest stories about the very young, the very old, animals, community-interest and local charities. When you think you have an interesting and important story worthy of publication, contact the relevant media who may ask you to ‘send something over’.

If all this advice puts you off or you decide you’ve got too many other important things to do, consider investing in the services of a freelance PR person or consultancy. It will be much more cost-effective than the DIY approach in the long run, achieve better results and, crucially, leave you free to do what you’re best at – being an entrepreneur.

If you don’t know any PRs personally, contact The Chartered Institute of Public Relations which has a list of all its members and offers a matchmaking service. You could also contact your local Chamber, Business Links or networking group.