Small Business
Marketing Guidebook

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Public Relations

Jon von Gunten 
Creative Writing &
Public Relations

Public Relations

Public Relations is marketing’s most misunderstood child. It isn’t having your corporate name on Little League uniforms or putting on a brave face in front of cameras when lawsuits or disasters hit.

Ninety percent of PR should have a quantifiable result. It should make your phone ring or get your sales staff more cordial receptions when they prospect, and better terms when they close. You have certain publics you care about; maybe three, maybe 20. Name them, focus on them. Don’t spend a penny reaching anyone else — until that “someone else” becomes a relevant public.

In your publics’ mind, your good public relations is felt as a vague trust. It may be trust in your products, abilities, trust in your integrity, or dependability. But PR’s job is to crash down walls of mistrust and cynicism, then put you on the opposite side of that wall — arm in arm with your publics — as comfortable allies.

Word of mouth, the industry buzz, the book on a company, all mean “the first impression your advance reputation makes on your public.” Competitors daily paint you and your products with a tarred brush. A smart PR campaign turns the battle, proving you superior, and casting doubt on any future utterance from competitors.

When to use Public Relations: Any time you have a valid message your publics just aren’t getting it (yet). It may be your groundbreaking new product or service, a needed reorganization, recovery from a mistake, or preparation/explanation for an upcoming announcement, good or bad. You may target one PR campaign to your buying public, another to strategic allies, another to investors. All must be true, consistent, and mutually reinforcing. But each must be written with relevance to the concerns of a separate public.

As you evaluate where to spend your outreach dollars, ask, “Would I first believe the text in a well-designed advertisement, brochure…or the content of a well-written article in a journal I trust?” Fast quiz, wasn’t it?

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