For a lot of people, the phrase ‘pr firm’ or the words ‘public relations’, in general, bring up a very particular image. That image isn’t all that positive, which is a real shame, but zeitgeist is what it is. The image it brings to mind is that of a celebrity, someone who has done something shameful or beyond the pale or just something that society won’t turn a blind eye to, holding a press conference with an image consultant sitting backstage. The celebrity is saying something to the tune of ‘I’m sorry for what I said/did. It was wrong, and it wasn’t the kind of thing I would normally do, but I’ve been struggling lately with some problems due to my drug use/heroin use/alcohol abuse/other intoxicant’, followed by some declaration that they’ll be checking themselves into a rehab facility so they can avoid having to take responsibility for their actions (I mean, so they can get better). It’s sad that this is what we think of when we hear ‘pr firm’, because they do a lot more than bail celebrities out when they do something idiotic.
A public relations agency isn’t just there to repair the image of a celebrity when they do something ridiculous. A public relations agency, rather, exists to ensure that the image that your company, your product, even yourself, puts out into the world is a positive one, and one that attracts the right kind of attention and the right kind of people to said product, company, or person. It’s true, a public relations firm is going to be there when you mess up to help you restore the image, but first you must have an image to tarnish.
Some companies will tarnish their image just because of what kind of work they do. For example, think of oil companies. They’re pumping oil out from under the Earth, a dangerous and complicated task that, as of the year 2015, is absolutely essential to almost every economy in the world. If we didn’t have oil (and petrol for our cars and trucks), we’d see a lot of the market collapse and a lot of national and international trade would be a lot more difficult until someone comes up with a replacement. However, the cost of doing this business is that sometimes things go wrong, and oil spills, or it burns, or it explodes, and when that happens, the oil company that is having the trouble has to spend time restoring their image in the public eye.
Other companies can tarnish their image just by not being aware of things that they probably should put more thought into. For example, consider the people who run clothing stores, and buy their clothing in from places in Thailand, India, and China. Some of these places are run as sweatshops, and even worse, some are using child labor, a practice which, though it’s generally well thought of in those countries, is generally frowned up in the United States and most of the developed world as immoral. If you get caught using child labor, whether you know it or not, you’re going to have some work to do in order to make up for what you did wrong, and a public relations company is going to be able to help you to do that work.
They can also help you with social media management, which is very important for any business, but is especially important for a small business. You see, social media is the most accessed forum these days for the exchange of everything from ideas, videos and pictures, and personal information, to the exchange of work and goods. I can log onto any of the three social media sites I’m part of and communicate with people who live three miles away from me, or people who live 15,000 miles away from me, and all through the power of the internet. You need to be able to do the same, communicating about your business to people who are your neighbors (or at least people in the same city as you are) as well as to people who aren’t your neighbors, but still might be interested in ordering whatever it is that you have to offer to them.
So, if you’re looking, as a business, to each more people with the positive image that your company is trying to project, consider hiring a public relations firm. Having help projecting a positive corporate image into the world can only yield good things and profits, and both of those things are desirable to you as a small business owner. Take the plunge and hire a pr firm, and you’ll be glad you did.