Chances are, if you are an entrepreneur, self-employed professional, or small business owner you did not learn PR 101 in school. In fact, most business owners do not have advanced degrees in business, much less an education in PR. Many people don’t even know what PR is. It’s funny when I tell people that I’m a PR and communications professional, I either get a blank stare or someone brave enough will ask me… “so what do you do exactly?”
I believe public relations is one of the most misunderstood and undervalued tools in business. However, it is one of the most vital components to the long term success of a business and a brand. I know this information coming from a publicist may generate some “side eyes” and skepticism, so that’s why I generated this list of the top five reasons every business, yes every business, needs public relations.
- Lack of effective PR is one of the reasons most businesses fail.
Don’t take it from me. Take it from Forbes contributing writer, lifelong entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of Mighty Wise Academy: A Virtual Academy For Entrepreneurship, Eric T. Wagner. He wrote an article in the September 2013 edition of Forbes titled, “Five Reasons 8 Out Of 10 Businesses Fail“. Two out of the top five reasons fall under the public relations umbrella: 1) Not really in touch with customers through deep dialogue and 2) Failure to communicate value propositions in clear, concise and compelling fashion.
- You need brand loyalty to establish business sustainability.
There are many companies that sell product simply because they have a great product. But if you want to have staying power, you need to build a relationship with your audience and keep them coming back for more value – PR at its best. Therefore, your focus as a brand cannot be to simply sell a product—no matter how enticing that goal may be. Your focus needs to be to establish brand loyalty. The more interested and engaged your audience is, the more likely they will continue to choose you over your competitors who sell the same products and services.
- Your business and brand image mean everything to your audience.
To the point above, some companies have early success simply because their product or service is amazing. However, the reality is if they have a bad public image due to poor PR skills, they probably won’t be selling products for very long. When you become a business owner and start developing and publicizing your brand, everything you do and say becomes a reflection of that business and brand. Yes, on your personal social media accounts…especially on your personal social media accounts.
- What other people say about your brand matters to your business.
What other people say about your business or brand is just as important, if not more important, than what you say about your own business. When you have effective public relations at work for you, your audience members, including those who haven’t even given you a dime yet, will be your best brand ambassadors. If you are adding value for your audience and building a relationship with them, they will want to share you with their network. Over the last several months, I have become a fan and follower of Marie Forleo, multi-passionate entrepreneur, life and business coach, and author. I have not bought any of her products (yet), but she has built such a valuable relationship with me through email, social media platforms and her Youtube channel, I’ve been compelled to share her with my circle of friends – who by the way, have gone out and bought her products.
- Your business growth relies on more people knowing who you are and that you exist.
When people think about public relations, they naturally think about publicity. I get it. While public relations is more than just publicizing yourself, it is a huge chunk of what makes it work. If you don’t have a clear, compelling message that’s being disseminated as widely and as frequently as possible to the people who are going to most benefit from your product or service, your business will become stagnant. And stagnancy is the first step towards business failure.
In a couple of weeks I will launch a course and resource guide that teaches entrepreneurs the basics of how to do their own PR, because unfortunately many entrepreneurs, especially new ones, can’t afford to hire a professional. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need it and deserve to know how to do it on their own. Be sure to stay connected and watch out for information on the launch. Even if you aren’t an entrepreneur, you might just have an opportunity to bless someone with your referral.