“There is no such thing as ‘off the record.’ If you don’t want your comments to end up on the front page of your local paper or media website, don’t say it.” – Jeff SlutskyThe other downside is that you have no control over the content of the news item that is being printed or produced about you. There’s always the possibility that getting publicity could backfire if the reporter sees something that is not positive about your business.The Advantages Are PowerfulBut given those negatives, the advantages are powerful. For more local businesses, you should look at local publicity as just one more piece of the puzzle. You can’t rely on it to fully promote your business. But it can give your overall marketing program a nice boost from time to time.One of the first things you need to do is decide if you’re going to do the publicity yourself or hire a PR firm. A good, local PR firm will likely have some good contacts with the local media. They will likely be able to place stories more easily than you could yourself. For this, they’ll charge a fee. This could either be a monthly retainer or a per placement charge.Regardless of how they charge, you need to evaluate the return on your investment, not by how much free press you get. Rather, by how much business the free press creates for you.PR firms like to have you evaluate them based on the value of the placement compared to regular advertising. If you get an article in your local daily newspaper that covers one-third of a page, they evaluate it as if you had purchased a one-third page advertisement. From that perspective it’s very fair, because in most cases an equal size article should have significantly more impact than an equivalently sized ad.Accurate Thinking And EvaluationHowever, what you really need to do is track your results like you should for any marketing program. Then, take the amount of business or profit you generated as a result from all the exposure they PR firm created, and subtract out their fee and any other expenses related to that publicity to arrive at a return on your marketing investment.Just because you get a full-page article or a three-minute feature on the early and late news doesn’t mean the exposure has paid for itself. These things do not necessarily bring in income. Just publicity at best.
From Dan Kennedy, the provocative, truth-telling author of seven popular No B.S. books, thirteen business books total; a serial, successful, multi-millionaire entrepreneur; trusted marketing advisor, consultant and coach.