A simple guide to PR for SMEs

Hiring a PR firm for the first time can be a tricky task for SMEs but for those who want to grow their business it’s often a necessary step. If you are starting to find that more of your time is being taking up with promoting your business than running it, or you are about to launch a start-up and want to make a splash, hiring a PR agency can help.

PRHow and when a PR agency can help

It can be hard to know when you really need to call in the professionals and when you aren’t working with massive budgets it can be tempting to delay working with PR partners. If you enjoy marketing and promoting your business yourself it can also be particularly hard to let go and outsource the task, but if the time or budget you spend doing this has been rising steeply you need to ask yourself whether industry experts might be better placed to get the most out of your money for you.

• PR agencies can make better use of your budget by planning campaigns that work to objectives that are set by you.
• Working with a PR partner can free up your time to work on your business.
• When you choose a PR agency you remain in control – you can choose to pay a monthly service fee or seek the help of the experts when you launch a new product, service, event or even menu.

Local versus National

Budget restrictions mean SMEs can feel pushed towards local PR companies, though with the possibility of conducting business meetings online it is possible to look further afield. However, if your SME does operate within a specific geographic area it’s advantageous to work with PR partners who know that region and its business and media landscape. And of course, it’s handy to be able to meet people from you chosen agency face to face for regular reports and feedback. Also worth bearing in mind is the fact local agencies tend to have shorter on-boarding periods, which means you can get going with your campaign quicker.

Do you need a specialist?

As well as deciding whether you want to go local you may also need to ask yourself whether you need bring in a specialist agency – one that specialises in working with a particular medium such as social media or who is well established within a certain sector like food and drink PR, sports PR or B2B. Here are a few examples of respected UK sector specialists and their noted fields of expertise to get you thinking:

Pelican PR, Manchester are Food and Drink PR specialists
Evolve PR are Gaming PR specialists
Hatch Communications, Leeds/London specialise in Sports PR

With online and offline boundaries becoming more blurred, you should expect any agency you approach to have a good knowledge of online PR and if your business has an online presence this will become even more important, so make sure you examine the offline and online success of any agency that pitches for your work, alongside testing their ideas and weighing up their cost.

This helpful business advice was sponsored by Pelican PR.
Image: Flickr / Jerry Silfwer

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