PETA_120114_COVER

Get Me Some Press

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Public relations, or PR, is a valuable part of your promotional mix.

Although it includes a variety of services designed to monitor and enhance your reputation, PR most commonly refers to securing media coverage.

PR can be overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have in-house resources to develop relationships with media and regularly share news with them.  It’s especially frustrating when a competitor garners news coverage with the same story you could have shared. This is often the point when a business says, “We need a PR agency!”

If you’re thinking about hiring an agency, here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros

An Outside Perspective—It’s helpful to have someone from the “outside” looking at your business. A PR team can pinpoint what is newsworthy about your company, products or services, perhaps something you may not have considered yourself.

Many Minds—By hiring an agency, you’ll have a team of professionals, with years of collective and diverse experience, helping you promote your business.

Connections and Contacts—PR firms work with the media every day. They have connections and access to reporters, editors and producers that would take you much longer to develop.

Knowing what the media wants—PR professionals are trained to think like the media. Your news may be exciting to you, but it may not be compelling enough to be covered by the media. PR teams know how to select the best parts of your story, package and “sell” it properly to different types of media outlets.

Cons

For all the benefits of working with an agency, there are a few drawbacks as well.

Cost—Agencies aren’t cheap. And, it takes time to develop a plan, conduct outreach and manage media opportunities; so hiring an agency is not a short-term financial commitment.

Time—A PR program requires patience. Depending on your business and objectives, you may not see results for a few months, so you need to be patient while your agency plants seeds with media outlets and nurtures opportunities to fruition.

No Guarantees—No agency can guarantee specific results. Many factors play into PR opportunities that are beyond your agency’s control – timing, breaking news, even an editor’s mood.  Sometimes you may not get the results you were hoping for, but many times you’ll be thrilled by the amount of coverage you get. It’s a leap of faith for sure.

Learning Curve—You’ll likely be paying for a learning curve at first as the agency gets to know your business, your industry and your market. You can reduce this learning curve by choosing a local agency if you are focused on a specific, local market or, if you are a national brand, choosing an agency that understands the pet industry.

Good media coverage can go a long way in showcasing your business in a positive light. While hiring an agency requires time, money and energy, it’s often well worth the effort and expense you put into it. Most businesses are glad they did.

Caroline Golon is the president of High Paw Media, a PR, social media and content development firm that helps businesses and organizations in the pet industry share their stories through PR. She spends her days researching, writing about and promoting pets. She manages several of her own blogs, including www.romeothecat.com, where she’s raised more than $75,000 for animal rescues and shelters.

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