Why do I need a PR specialist? Can’t I do it myself?

The box store DIY phenomenon has permeated the small business community since the economy took a header into the ditch. As a result of reduced staff and slashed budgets, many small businesses have taken it upon themselves to handle marketing and communications responsibilities with little or no experience. And, the perception of the high cost of outsourcing prevents many people from seeking help from an expert.

“Why do I need a PR specialist? Can’t I just do this stuff myself?”

Good question. I answer it this way. If public relations and marketing are not within your skill set, why not ask an expert for advice? I mean, even in the DIY home project scenario, there are a lot of things you can do yourself like painting and gardening.  A good consultant can help you do many things yourself. But, if you need electrical work, and you aren’t an electrician, isn’t it wiser to call an expert and avoid risks associated with trying to do it yourself? I mean, who wants to get electrocuted?

“I’m handling the marketing and PR myself, and I’m doing just fine.”

Really? How do you know? Do you understand the difference between public relations, marketing and advertising and the applications for each? Have you identified all key audiences? Do you know the recipe for effectively developing and delivering messages that will impact opinion and reap a behavioral response? Have you identified the proper communications channels? Do you understand how and when to use specific types of social media in either B2B or B2C applications, and the guidelines for each including associated legal aspects? Do you know the rules of good media relations habits? If you’re unsure, it might be a good time to speak with a specialized professional.

“I can’t get help with this. It’s too expensive.”

That can be true when you outsource to an advertising agency, but it’s almost never true when you outsource to an independent practitioner. Most IP’s, myself included, have earned a great deal of specialized experience and education in their field before offering freelance services or launching a business. Most IP’s can offer a superior level of service, including consulting services, at a fraction of the cost of going to an agency. A good consultant can save you thousands of dollars and countless hours by helping you do the right things and avoid the wrong things when it comes to marketing and communications. Besides, you have to calculate a value for your time and energy. If someone can help you save a bit of both for a small investment, and you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing things will be done right, isn’t it worth it?

“How do I find the right person to help me, and how do I know they are an expert?”

Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or the business organization whose membership is most often associated with the type of expert you’re looking for. Ask for referrals for providers in your area. To narrow down your options, look for someone who has a combination of education, experience, and excellent references. By seeking guidance, you can protect your business and your brand, save money, and avoid the trouble and expense of unnecessary mistakes that can potentially result in “brand electrocution”. Think about it!

Copyright 2011, Tracy L. Teuscher, The Buzz Maker! LLC.

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