As a leading and experienced provider of marketing and PR services, we've come to two important conclusions.
First, any company of any size will benefit from PR and should invest in some type of PR program - at a minimum, send out at least one press release a month to journalists and to a wire service for online visibility. You’re probably not surprised about this advice coming from a PR firm; it's like asking your barber if you need a haircut (how many people still go to barbers anyway?).
Our second conclusion may surprise you - very few human resource suppliers need expensive retainer-based PR. Seriously. By expensive we mean $5,000+ or more per month (in US 2005 dollars), especially if you have an internal marketing and PR team. In fact, most HR service providers do not need any outside retainer PR, but for those that do they should only be spending anywhere between $600 and $4,000 per month depending on their needs.
When you pay for retainer-based PR, you are generally paying for:
Number 2 and 3 are key and the difference between getting your money's worth and wasting your money. If your PR people don't have the relationships in the HR space and/or don't know the space, you will waste a lot of money on retainer-based PR. This is a major reason why our online marketing and PR software and services, HRmarketer.com has been so successful. The information available on HRmarketer.com, for under $300 per month, can give any HR neophyte with zero knowledge of the space (this includes many Madison Avenue firms) the information they need to be effective - information they would otherwise have to research and find themselves - at your expense!
- Labor and expenses (i.e., the time and money it takes to write, distribute and follow-up on a press release, etc.)
- Creative ideas (i.e., coming up with a compelling story to tell or an innovative campaign)
- Relationships (i.e., a good firm will know all the key journalists and/or event organizers and actually get them on the phone)
So who needs to spend $5,000 or more per month on PR in the HR space? It’s true that public companies or companies getting ready to go public do require more PR-type services than privately held companies with no immediate plans to go public. These companies will require services that 90% of HR suppliers simply don't need. Some of these services include investor relations, and expanded media relations (i.e., TV, Radio and other non HR-industry media outlets) in order to build brand/company recognition for purposes other than generating sales leads – i.e., to build investor interest and/or establish company as an employer of choice or good corporate citizen. Public companies also need PR expertise to be on call and available in times of crisis or when damage control is required (i.e., think AIG and Eliot Spitzer).
Now, what should you expect from your PR initiatives? Answer = visibility! You want media coverage. And you want the increase in visibility to help build awareness of your company/brand/product, generate sales leads and contribute to closed business. Most HR service providers can get the visibility they need to support their marketing objectives by (1) distributing monthly press releases that are written and newsworthy, (2) pitching these story ideas/releases to a select group of journalists (3) applying for and securing some speaking engagements and (4) writing and promoting and/or placing some byline articles/white papers. And most HR suppliers should be able to do all of this for way less than $5,000 a month.