This is something I hear quite frequently from people who run small and medium sized businesses. They then go on to tell me they don’t really know what it means or how it could help them.

Put simply, PR means getting your business known by the public (your potential clients) and possibly the press in a way that you want, with the information and image that you want to portray. Many think that being on social media is enough and that bombarding your followers with messages will keep you in their minds. But increasingly social media users are being turned off by this flooding of information. Just think how annoying it is when you meet someone who talks endlessly about themselves without taking a breath. This is the online equivalent. Consumers are also switched on to the scheduling systems that many people use to line up a week’s worth of messages that can appear irrelevant or insensitive when they actually get sent if something major’s happened in the world in the meantime. Good PR requires time investment, careful management and a well defined plan that is flexible enough to be reactive but focused on your target customers. A strategy for turning negatives into positives is a must. Reputation management is key to all business, whatever the size, even more so with social media where the immediateness of one negative message can have far-reaching effects.

As a small or medium sized business, PR builds credibility for your brand, as rather than the direct hard sell of advertising, it often involves your business being promoted through a third party like the press, existing customers or networks. It’s essential for engaging and developing relationships with new clients and other companies you do business with.

It’s about recognising what is vital to your business and its growth. You wouldn’t think twice about hiring an accountant to ensure your finances are in top shape or an IT expert who safeguards all your devices to keep them running effectively, so you shouldn’t overlook the importance of good PR and hiring a consultant to do just that. A PR and communications expert can help you start and develop your business and when established they can be brought in to launch new products or services proving invaluable in the interest and coverage they achieve for you. It makes sound business sense and I’ve yet to meet a business owner who doesn’t believe they have that.