Entrepreneur magazine’s June 2009 issue featured a short piece titled “Get Thee to a PR firm.” In the article, 5 Entrepreneurs shared thoughts on when they knew it was time to hire a PR firm. Stories varied, but here’s when it clicked for them:
- People started talking.
- The specialty niche became a trend.
- The entrepreneur dreamed of going national.
- Sales came to a halt.
- It just became too much.
So, is there a specific point in the business growth process when you should hire a PR firm?
No, I think that’s clear from the range of responses provided from this small sample of entrepreneurs. Each business and circumstance will be a little different, and you will be looking to communicate a variety of different things from updates on the business to awards to new focus/products/services/offerings and the list goes on.
There IS, however, a specific point when you should engage a PR professional.
When? Five minutes after you begin to think about engaging with the public.
Why five minutes? It’s enough time to figure out if you’re ready to take that step (budget), but not so much time that you begin to brainstorm and become wedded to your own ideas. That’s why WE are here!
I was being a bit cheeky there, but in all seriousness, it may take days, months or years before you truly need a firm to assist you, but you should be engaging a PR consultant from the very beginning to discuss your strategy.
How can a PR consultant help? There are millions of ways, but here are a few keys areas:
- Providing an outside perspective on messaging - How are you describing your business and the service it provides? Is it as effective as you think it is?
- Defining and Targeting audiences – Most of the entrepreneurs whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting generally have a great sense of who they would like to target. However, knowing who your audience is does not directly translate into knowing the best ways to communicate with that audience.
- Strategy and Solutions - PR pros rarely get the credit we’re due for strategic thinking. We are, at our core, strategic thinkers who come up with solutions. Note that I didn’t limit this to communications solutions. The truth is, depending on the pro, we do a great deal more than that. Our work and experience can blend in other functions (marketing, advertising, fundraising, etc) and several sectors (health care/ health policy, technology, corporate responsibility, etc).
- Getting Funding - This one comes straight from Entrepreneur. According to a survey they conducted, “Companies engaging in PR campaigns were 30 percent more successful in attaining funding within 1 to 3 months than companies without a campaign.”
It may be wise to hold off on hiring a firm for long-term work, but a working relationship with a solid PR consultant is definitely an extremely valuable thing to have in your arsenal as you set out to grow your business or organization.