Should Small Businesses Handle Their Own PR?

small biz

In a guest post last week, Sarah Rose reminded us that freshly launched startups don’t necessarily need PR assistance…yet.

A New York Times story from earlier this week makes the same point for small businesses, claiming that most of them don’t need third-party PR at all.

Robert J. Moore’s five points read like a promo primer of sorts…

1. Always include a call to action: Moore notes that this 2008 blog post about lawn signs went viral but didn’t help his business at all because it didn’t include any CTA (and he wasn’t quite ready for all the attention it received). Also:

“…make sure you measure what happens to everyone who lands on that page, whether they complete the desired action or not.”

That sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

2. Know that most of the general public won’t find your company interesting. Therefore, you must:

“…draw a clear line between content that is intended to share information with your constituents (employees, shareholders and customers) and content intended to generate leads.”

3. Use your data to become part of a larger story. Since most businesses collect data on their customers and many journalists love to use said data in trend pieces, a solid knowledge of all that information will make a small business owner into a potential source.

Great point, but we noticed that Moore didn’t include any related placements for his company or talk about media outreach on such stories. (That’s what PR could do for him.)

4. Use your megaphone or develop good relations with contacts. Another basic point that’s often missed: Moore suggests that business owners remember to thank journalists for mentions, share their work with fans, and ask readers/bloggers to subscribe to newsletters:

“You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll find hundreds of people have your back when you want to promote new content.”

That one almost seems too basic, but you’d be surprised to learn how little feedback we receive.

5. Be ready to accept failure, especially on the content front. We can’t agree with him enough on this because we are honestly surprised nearly every week when we check our metrics — and we all know that the amount of work one puts into a given piece bears little, if any, relation to its ultimate success.

Again, a pretty good primer for those tasked with basic PR functions. But do we agree with Moore that most small businesses are better off doing this work themselves rather than hiring, say, a boutique firm?