A Little Good News Goes A Long Way
by Chad Rueffert

Public relations is an aspect of the marketing communications mix that is often over looked and under appreciated by smaller companies.  A solid public relations plan can be more important and more effective than a creative advertising campaign. 

With advertising, you have complete control over what is said about your product and company.  But your customers know you are controlling the message and will be skeptical..  Plus, advertising is expensive.  If you want your message delivered, you have to pay the delivery boy.

What is said about you in the news media, whether it's accurate or not, is usually taken at face value because you are not paying the media to distribute your message.  It's this credibility factor that makes public relations such a powerful marketing tool, and with some knowledge, training or professional help, you can give yourself nearly complete control over what gets said about your business.

A survey by Opinion Research Corporation found that 89% of adults say reputation determines which products they buy.  More than 70% said that the more they know about a company, the more favorable they are towards it.  In short, if your customers know who you are and what you sell and you have a good reputation, they'll buy from you.

Public relations is one way you can distribute the information your customers need to know, and the way you build your positive reputation.  It can create good will, prevent the build-up of ill will, influence consumer opinions and build prestige and brand image.

For example, let's say you issue a press release to the local news media announcing positive revenues and a plan to increase your workforce by 25%.  If your release is  well-written, delivered to the correct media contacts and followed up correctly, nearly every business editor in your market will publish this news.  Your local chamber of commerce and industry association will probably run the information in their newsletters, and if you are a large or publicly traded company, you may get your news picked up by  wire services, national newspapers or finance-oriented publications.

A little good news goes a long way.  For the cost and effort of writing and distributing one press release, you could get any or all the following benefits:


Free Advertising

Even one article in a local daily newspaper is the equivalent of hundreds or thousands of dollars of advertising, enhancing the reach of your campaign or reducing the amount you need to spend.


Improved Customer Relations

Any one who already purchases your product will be glad to know that you are in good financial shape and that you are planning to hire additional people to handle their business.


Improved Hiring & Employee Retention

The best employees want to work for the best companies.  If your company's success is making the news, you'll find it easier to attract the best employees.  Additionally, your current employees will experience an increase in morale when they see positive publicity and hear comments from friends and family about the stories.


Increased Investment and Capital Opportunities

If your company is publicly owned, good media publicity is almost a guarantee to raise the price of your stock.  Privately held companies often find that good publicity leads to easier access to loans, venture capital and private investments.


Enhanced Government and Community Relations

Positive publicity can tremendously improve your relationships with your local government officials.  When it comes time to vote on a zoning variance, a tax credit or any other government influenced business activity, if your local officials know you are supplying increasing numbers of jobs and tax revenues to the community they'll be more inclined to assist your growth plans, and their constituents will be less likely to object.


Improved Vendor Relations

Everybody who does business with you will be more inclined to offer you credit terms, discounted prices or other concessions if they see you as a up-and-coming player in your industry.


With just one piece of good news publicized by the media, you've managed to reduce the need for advertising, improve your sales efforts, attract new employees, improve employee morale, increase your stock price, influence your local government and impress your vendors.  Truly, it's no wonder that public relations firms are seeing double digit growth each year and that public relations is projected to be among the fastest growing industries through 2006.