An abundance of businesses coupled with audiences who are switched on anywhere and everywhere means the role of PR is highly valuable.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says there are more Australian businesses now than ever before. In 2016 there were more than 2.17 million businesses actively trading (with more than 600,000 of those headed up by lady bosses). What does this mean? PR is more important than ever to help your business stand out from the crowdAs your products or story gets featured, customers, buyers and even other editors will pick up on your brand’s success. The more you’re featured, the more potential your brand has to grow!
“In any successful business, PR (or more broadly, communications) sits at the centre of the organisation,” says Chris Gray, Managing Director ICON International Communications, a former journo turned PR guru who’s owned his agency for almost 20 years. “Communications is the heartbeat of a brand and helps become the ‘oxygen’ which feeds and engages all key stakeholders.”
With so many other businesses out there – including your competition – you have to stand out. You have to be heard by your audience in an environment that’s making so much noise. “PR plays a ‘mission critical’ role in helping organisations manage and engage their audiences,” says Gray.
Your audience is everywhere, all the time, and they have the potential to engage with your brand 24/7. That means the communication you have with your customers and stakeholders is no different to any other relationship – you’ve got to talk (in an authentic and open way), and then LISTEN.
When it comes to social media, the most recent Sensis report says 52% of users are more likely to trust a brand if it interacts with consumers positively on social platforms (I’m a bit surprised that number isn’t higher, but anyway). So all your communication needs to be consistent. And that’s where PR can help, too. Cohesive messaging across all your touchpoints is important if you want your customers to take you seriously and know what you stand for. Good PR people have strong writing skills, so they can help you craft these messages – which aren’t just good for your customers, they’re crucial if you want to build new prospects, secure financial investment and more.
While you may think you’re the best PR person for your business because of your passion and innate knowledge of your offering, there can be limitations, like the big one: time. Spending hours marketing yourself could be better spent on developing your brand/business/product/skill. There are only so many hours in the day, right? Another one is that contact book: you probably don’t have the extensive network of media friends that a PR pro (should) possess, nor do you have the time to find out who they are. Remember: With PR there are no half-measures – it is an ongoing process and requires time and persistence in order to see results. 
For any business, financials can be a barrier to using PR services but there are stacks of PR options out there. Whether they’re sole operators or part of a large agency, PR people can be used either regularly on a retainer (usually a monthly fee) or by project, depending on your business goals. The best thing to do is know where you need help, shop around, do your homework and talk to other people who have used PR.
Words: Jacqui Kwong, editor & writer. Follow Jacqui on Instagram here.
Image: The Collections by Erik Madigan Heck for Harpers Bazaar UK
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