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Five Things to Ask Before You Engage in PR
By: Mike Bush
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Whether you’re a startup or an enterprise, PR can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. It can generate thought leadership, create lead generation, enhance mindshare, improve reputation, etc.

But before you, Mr or Ms. Business Person, decide to engage a PR Pro (whether that’s a freelancer or a firm), there are a few things you need to have answered in your mind:
  • Will I have a steady stream of news? While most practitioners and firms can get by without actual press releases (probably another post for another day), almost none can be successful without any news at all. Is your business part of a growing trend? Are you solving a problem? Do you have customers willing to speak on your behalf? Employees? The growing number of PR people to media members means that pitches that equate to “This company now exists, and you should talk to them” don’t get as far as they used to. You wouldn’t hire a photographer and ask them to work without a camera. The same should be true for PR people and news items.
     
  • Do I fit into themes that are being discussed in the media? And perhaps more importantly, can you add value to the conversation around these themes? If you’re a tire company, being able to discuss another company’s recall can be good for you, but do you have something interesting to say? What could the company have done better? What challenge did they fail to overcome? “Hi, I’m a tire company who didn’t have a recall” is likely to be less effective than “Hi, my company exists” as a pitch to reporters.
     
  • Can you identify your target customers? This is far more important than you might think. A good PR campaign should focus on both the product you’re selling and the market you’re selling it to. For instance, a company that automates marketing for tire sellers should be speaking to both marketing publications and pubs focused on the tire market.
     
  • Do you know what your company is, and what it isn’t? There are companies that are truly innovative and can turn markets on their heads. Then there are companies that offer some sort of incremental improvement to what’s available on the market. Do you know which you are? In other words…is your tire going to last a little longer than other companies’ tires, or did you reinvent the wheel? This can be a hard question for entrepreneurs and leaders to answer, but it is critical in understanding how to help your PR team position your company.
     
  • Do you have a budget allocated? PR is not a one-time thing. It’s consistency over time, relationship building with key media members, and lots of trial and error to make a program run effectively. Look, if you’re a startup who’s only looking to announce your company launch and then stop PR for a while…that’s OK. Find a freelancer willing to help on a project basis, or have the company’s founder reach out to influencers directly. If you’re looking for more than a one-time bang, make sure you have the budget available to support PR initiatives.
Your PR pro should be able to help you address many of these questions, but going into the engagement, these are things you should be considering before you get the conversations started.


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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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