People often confuse public relations with advertising. PR is the effort that creates publicity for your product, service, or company; this publicity is perceived as not being paid for by the company or individual. PR is communicated by third parties such as newspapers, radio, television, or e-zines. Generally, PR is deemed to be credible and is believed since a third party delivers the message.

Advertising is publicity delivered in the form of advertisements in the print media, radio, TV, and the internet; these ads are paid for by company or individual and everyone knows that. Because of this direct sponsorship, advertising is not as believable as PR. In fact, studies show that PR is 8-10 times more believable than advertising.

Contrary to popular opinion, PR is not free. It takes hard work and it does not happen by chance. Entrepreneurs can do PR in-house or they contract a PR Agency to help them. Small firms will often do this work in-house. Typically, this means writing a press release and distributing it to a list of contacts and customers. However, PR is much more than just writing a press release.

In a grander since, PR is all about creating awareness for your business or product, communicating your understanding of your customers’ needs, and building a constituency with the customers. The hope is to convert your customers into advocates of your brand.

PR agencies can help you do that, but they cost money. The fundamental job of a PR firm is to do the following:

1. They help you craft your message. These are the words and images that describe what you want your customer to know about your company or product.
2. Next, they help you get the message out to the industry via press releases, interviews, and special events. New methods include blogs and article marketing.
3. Finally, they connect you to the right people: industry gurus, media contacts, people with influence, and decision markers.

If the PR firm can’t help with the above, then you don’t need them.

John Bradley Jackson
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