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Public Relations: Going It Alone


I recently gave some pointers on what small businesses should consider when looking for a public relations agency.

Earlier this week, Guy Kawasaki posted on his blog an interview he had with Margie Zable Fisher of prsite.com on “The Top Ten Reasons Why PR Doesn’t Work“. Responses to the post was fast and furious, and some pointed out that most of Margie’s arguments shifted blame from the agency to the client. One of them, Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, responded with why small businesses should do their own PR.

I know I may be stoned by some fellow PR practitioners for saying this, but I agree with many of Glenn’s 11 pointers. Here’s two of the most important points he got right:

Passion + Expertise = Credibility

You know your business best. Hence, what you say carries weight. There’s simply no way that an agency is able to learn and understand your business inside out.

Journalists are wary of the lack of credibility behind many of the “well-oiled” press releases and statements that appear today. Who would blame them? Many are written by PR hacks, approved by an internal communications manager and never even crossed the desk of the person who made the statement or quote.

So meet directly with the journos and talk with them. They’ll find your approach refreshing.

You don’t have to seem all grown up and boring.

Like Glenn points out, it is important to be yourself. Many agencies follow a standard format of what has worked for their other clients – but that may not suit you or your business. Remember, the media (the good ones, at least) doesn’t follow what is established. They follow what’s new and different, and what’s interesting to their readers.

But one of the main reasons I think why you should do your own PR, which Glenn failed to point out, is this:

You owe it to yourself and your business.

PR is a learning process for any business. It’s crucial for the business owner to understand, and own, the process. By all means get some advice, if you need to know how to start. But remember: if the agency screws up, at most they lose a client.

You have far more to lose.


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