Public relations: Affordable marketing for all businesses

When people ask me what I do for a living I answer that I’m a public relations consultant. I always get the response: “Oh, that’s interesting,”. This is followed by that blank expression that means they have no idea what I mean. Recently my standard answer has been: “My job is to get free exposure for your brand through an affordable marketing element called public relations.” The standard response is: “How is that possible?” Let me explain how it is possible to get free exposure for your brand.

Most businesses believe advertising is necessary to increase brand exposure, and ultimately sales. This is because the management team mostly has no clear understanding of the various elements that comprise the marketing mix. Marketing elements like public relations and social media are disregarded. Don’t get me wrong. By no means do I advocate that advertising has no place in the marketing mix. What I am saying is that advertising is the most expensive element of the marketing mix. It should be your business’ last option.

Public relations can be an affordable marketing solution with a great return on investment. Small business owners in particular need to pay attention to the value of public relations. They can do that if they understand what public relations is. Public relations, in layman’s terms, is a combination of specialised services that results in free exposure for your brand. It is easy to spend R20,000 for one half-page advertisement in one selected magazine. Public relations can get you up to 10 half-page articles in 10 different magazines every month for the same amount. You might spend the same on public relations as advertising but you get 10 times the value and 10 times the exposure. Top companies in public relations will all agree that the return on public relations services is worth the investment. ROI on public relations is calculated through various public relations measurement tools. Public relations aligned to goals and objectives will result in increased revenue.

At Emlo Communications we believe that advertising should be your last option, not your only option. Yes, advertising is an important part of the integrated marketing mix. But businesses, in particular SMMEs, must consider other options like public relations and social media. These options can be cheaper but as effective.

If you are a small business owner I encourage you to give public relations the benefit of the doubt; just give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results obtainable by a public relations agency that understands the financial constraints of a start-up business.

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