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Spend your PR money wisely

PR is about creating perceptions and opinions that make people choose to buy a certain product or use a particular service, or support one organisation over another – be it a charity or a political party. This also entails managing negative perceptions and dealing with the fallout from a crisis situation. A prime example is the recent debacle in which the Head of the Environment Agency was under media attack for holidaying in Barbados while the North of England was suffering the worst floods for seven decades. Sir Philip Dilley made a public apology and undertook several interviews all of which would have been organised and guided by the PR crisis management team – but handled badly he then felt it necessary to resign.

This type of crisis management and big agency support is commonly cost prohibitive to many SMEs and not typically essential, therefore not included in the marketing mix. But in monetary terms PR is generally a cheaper tool than advertising and offers many channels of delivery which do not have to command a big price ticket. Understanding what PR channels best suit a business is often the biggest hurdle. We advise cherry picking the mediums that suit you and invest in those with a long term strategy – and it doesn’t have to be with a large agency.

The digital age has made SMEs feel that social media is a must and they are pushed into doing it without thinking through the commitment in terms of time and resource needed to maintain a successful presence.

Not every social media platform will be relevant to a business. A review of where your customers are most active should be a key starting point in reviewing options. Crucially you must be honest in deciding if you have the time and budget to participate daily in social media activity. When resource, budget and time are limited, as is often the case with SMEs, the advice would be to leave social media alone rather than damaging your brand by doing it badly. Inactive Twitter accounts and Facebook pages without any updates for months suggest a thoughtless business or at worst, one that has closed down.

Blog sections of websites are a good alternative to a social media platform because they still allow you to reach out to your audience with relevant content, providing the ability for them to respond through comments and resharing through their own social sites.

The dawn of the net has certainly added to the PR’s professional workload, demanding content for web-based applications such as blogs, web sites, social media accounts – but it has not replaced the more traditional forms of PR such as media relations, article and news release creation. These are still utilised extensively and to great success.

When you look at the remit of the PR role, it is difficult to see how one professional can juggle all these responsibilities. We see more businesses looking for specialist help that fits in with their own marketing plans, for instance calling on us to write content for their website which the client will upload themselves or helping out at the time of a project launch or simply stepping in to provide guidance where necessary.

The point is the day of the top London agency and long client lunches are no longer the norm; we can have meetings via skype or facetime, and turn work round quickly. As a medium sized agency we provide a flexible service that doesn’t demand a hefty monthly retain fee. We can step in to assist with ideas creation, strategising and event management and through our online PR service, www.prcentre.co.uk, we can help out businesses wherever they are in the world with quick one-off solutions.

Our customers ‘retain’ PR Centre because we’re always there online with a guaranteed turnaround time for their press releases (or blogs and web copy) and low-cost entry. If there are crisis communications to handle we can respond quickly using our express service.

Don’t hesitate to contact Oxygen for more information.

Call: 01884 255999

 

Katie Sanders: Katie took a sales background into marketing, and holds chartered marketer status with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. A devotee of PR she heads up our publicity team.