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How Much Money Should You Invest in Public Relations for Your Business?

So you’ve got your small business off the ground, and you’re starting to make a little bit of money. Since you want that trend to continue, you’re probably looking at marketing and advertising spends to help promote your brand and open up new markets. While these methods can certainly be effective, they aren’t ideal for the startup or for many small businesses. In the end, the money you have to spend on advertising to break through the noise created by the big boys is significant. You probably can’t spend enough to get the sort of visibility that would make a real difference. So what’s the alternative? Well, you might want to consider hiring a quality PR firm to look for less expensive ways to grow your brand and your business. But top flight PR professionals don’t come cheap either. So how do you figure out how much money to invest in public relations for your business?

Every firm is different, and cheaper almost always translates into poorer results. So the first thing you need to do is come up with your definition of success. This is different for every company, depending on your industry, how long you have been around, and your current reach. So what sort of PR result would be worth spending your hard earned cash? Would you measure it in web traffic? Click-throughs to paid advertising? Or is it more about interviews and stories published about your business? Would you rather see your own star begin to rise, and have the PR efforts focus on setting you up as an expert in your field? That could lead to awards for your company and speaking engagements that may even be paid. There is no wrong answer here. As long as you have a close eye on your results, you’ll be in great shape for the next step.

That next step is reaching out to several PR companies to discuss your goals and their services. The goal here is to find a PR agent or a firm that you really connect with. This is a fairly personal relationship, and the opportunities will always be evolving. The goal is to find someone you think you can grow with in a true partnership. So listen to their pitches, and get right down to the results you want to cause. But keep in mind that no matter how strongly you feel about things, you never want to start off by putting them on a retainer. A PR agent will want to go this route, because it’s consistent business. But those retainer fees, which could range anywhere from $2,000 to well over $40,000 a month, is money poorly spent if you give it up right off the bat. Start off by paying for specific services. You’ll be able to control your spending much better this way, incorporating it more easily into your budget. And you’ll get to see what sort of job the PR firm does on a project basis. If you don’t like how things are going, you can cut it off after a project or two without spending for work you never receive.

Also make sure you uncover any hidden fees the PR firm neglects to mention, especially if you’re paying them per project. It’s difficult to truly quantify the return on investment from PR outreach. Advertising can be traced back to additional transactions, but it’s tough to determine how much revenue an interview generates. Stay involved and manage the ongoing process. That’s how music promotion companies manage to stay in business all year round even if they only have events during certain seasons. Ask for a weekly call, and don’t be afraid to bring up any question or concerns that come to mind. You understand your business better than anyone, and if you’re going to spend the money, you’ll want to insure that they’re using every strategy that makes sense.

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