We all know that the Internet has taken away geographic boundaries in the business world. The accessibility and expansiveness of the Internet allows the entrepreneur/business owner anywhere in North America to search outside his local yellow pages for the best and most affordable services available. This is especially true when it comes to finding PR/publicity services for your business. What it boils down to is…the Internet can mean a “net” savings in your publicity budget.
A few months back, I got an email from a California client who discovered that the local part-time freelance publicity specialist he had hired was charging three times the amount I charge and providing half the services I offered. Because of that, the client hired me to work with the freelancer in heading up this nationwide campaign launch. The freelancer told me that because of West Coast cost of living/overhead, he was forced to charge the higher fees — surprisingly, he was one of the cheapest publicity pros in that area! I have heard stories like this time and time again from clients who hit the ‘net in search of a cheaper alternative to PR services listed in their local directory.
That fact was drilled home to me even more when I recently took a detailed look at my portfolio of clients. I was surprised to learn that over the last few years more than 40% of my clients for my Midwest-based PR business have come from the West Coast, another 25% from the East Coast and 10% from Canada. A quick email polling of clients revealed the same story over and over. They simply found it hard to locate professional, affordable PR services in their area, so they turned to the Internet to find it.
Frankly, for publicity campaigns restricted to your city/region, I recommend going with a local PR specialist/firm. They typically know the local media market best and have solid media contacts there. But for a national or industry/trade specific publicity campaign for your product/business, explore the possibility of hiring a PR individual or team outside your geographic area — especially if your product has nationwide appeal. One client remarked that he liked how our campaign brought a Midwest feel to his East Coast-based business and helped him open up potential new business avenues. Another client said he looked to outsource to a small to mid-sized city PR business because, as he put it, “No matter the size of the office, West Coast PR firms seemed very plastic and glitzy, while the East Coast firms seemed to be too hectic, almost frantic.” That may indeed be a huge generalization on his part, because I’m certain there are wonderfully professional PR businesses in almost every city.
Be advised — mechanically, most PR agencies do basically the same thing. Sure each firm/office/freelancer has their strong points. The major difference lies with the respective creativity, ingenuity and professionalism of the PR individual or staff. Don’t take this to mean that “cheaper is better” – there is certainly something to be said for the phrase “you get what you pay for.” Just don’t pay three, four or even ten times as much to get you the same amount of quality. Look for a firm that can give you an entire campaign from start to finish — release/kit, media market research, media contacts, large-scale media distribution, media tracking/clipping — not just a $100 – $500 release distribution.
Take to the ‘net and see what you can find. Above all, ask for references, writing samples, publicity placement history — where they have generated publicity for past clients. Make sure they are technologically advanced enough to get timely, high-quality publicity information that benefits your business to media outlets all over the nation. Look for a PR service with a broad range of media contacts in multiple formats (print, broadcast & Internet) and strong media tracking capabilities. Some PR pros promise to pitch your campaign to hundreds of magazines and newspapers when your strongest media market may be in radio/TV shows & newscasts — or vice versa.
I am not reinventing the PR wheel here, I am simply saying that when it comes to generating publicity for your business/website/venture/invention, the best match for you may not be in the big glass building in your city’s downtown. Big firms in big cities most often mean big fees and not necessarily big quality.
Bottom line — the Internet is giving entrepreneurs of all types the opportunity to afford publicity — publicity from outside your city.
Originally published on Bplans.com.
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