When to hire a publicist? Try this quiz

Deciding when to hire a publicist is an important step for a small business owner. This quiz can help you better understand when it’s time to involve an experienced pro to really make your publicity work for your business.  

In this economy small businesses are faced with increased competition and slower sales. If you have a store or home business, it may be difficult to keep a steady flow of leads. Yes, you can advertise but advertising can be expensive and you may not always be able to measure the results unless you go online. Even if you have an on-line business and know how to generate interest through e-mails, on-line newsletters, blogs, forums and social media, you still need to know how to generate publicity for your business. Publicity can help you extend your reach as a small business beyond what you are able to do through sales and advertising.

The Internet and social media have greatly expanded the opportunities for small businesses to gain attention in the media whether on-line or in print. DIY publicity strategies allow anyone to generate publicity and support their profile as an expert in their field at low cost. But there are many valid reasons why turning to a publicist with a proven track record and expertise in your market or area of expertise makes business sense. Find out some of the reasons why by spending a few minutes on the publicist quiz below.

 True/False Quiz

 1  I need to hire a publicity agent to get my name in the newspapers.

  · True

  · False

 2   I want to obtain credibility and authority for my business and the products and services I sell.

  · True

  · False

 3  Calling reporters and editors on the phone is as enjoyable as calling a close business associate.

  · True

  · False

 4  The Internet means I can quickly know how publicity works, how to handle media interviews and run my own publicity campaigns.

  · True

  · False

   5  I do basic publicity myself but need help from a publicist who has knowledge in a specialized area.

  · True

  · False

 Answers

 1  I need to hire a publicity agent to get my name in the newspapers. False

If you only need to get your name into the newspapers you can quite easily do it yourself. You can write a letter to the editor, send a press release on a newsworthy event or milestone in your business to an editor. DIY publicity can work for your business especially if you send out press releases infrequently. But if you want to gain credibility, position yourself as an expert or broaden your audience, a publicist can help you do all this and more.

2   I want to obtain credibility and authority for my business and the products and services I sell. True

A publicist can help you lift your business and its products and services from obscurity and position you as an authoritative and credible leader in your marketplace. Publicity must, of course, be based on performance. Your business needs to be doing the things that you are saying it does. For example, if you have introduced meaningful environmentally friendly practices in your business, your story will be credible. But if you aren’t, then it’s merely greenwash. A publicist with a track record will help ensure that your messages are fact-based and believable.

3   Calling reporters and editors on the phone is as enjoyable as calling a close business associate. False

Business people are comfortable dealing with customers and suppliers. Some may find it interesting to contact the media but sometimes things can become difficult when there is suspicion about advertising dressed up as news. A seasoned publicist, often having spent time as a reporter in a newsroom, can act as a bridge between both worlds, business and the media. When difficult questions are asked or things get tricky, a publicist acts as an intermediary, diplomatically handling issues that would otherwise lead to negative publicity.

4   The Internet means I can quickly know how publicity works, how to handle media interviews and run my own publicity campaigns. False

The Internet has made it possible for small business owners to generate their own publicity. Press release templates abound, some websites even offer DIY templates where you simply type in your information and you instantly can generate a press release ready to send out. Press release distribution services send out bulk releases instantaneously. A professional publicist can help you target your message, prepare you for difficult interviews and conceptualise campaigns customised for various types of media.

 5   I do basic publicity myself but need help from a publicist who has knowledge in a specialized area.

 For simple public relations work such as a news release or brief on a store milestone, customer event or achievement, business owners can mostly handle their public relations needs. But when your business needs to target a specialized market, a new industry or more sophisticated customer segment, a publicist with experience communicating to these audiences would be of great value. Their knowledge is available straight away for your business instead of you needing to acquire it over a long period through trial and error.

Knowing when to cross over from DIY publicity to using a publicist is key for small business owners who wish to advance their strategies for gaining and holding an audience’s attention. Building credibility and authority involves much planning, conceptualizing, implementing and trouble shooting. A publicist with a track record can help businesses get up to speed in writing effective news releases, positioning their business, products and services, producing newsletters, media kits, fact sheets, presentations and speeches that will generate publicity. They can also provide opportunities through their contacts for valuable media exposure.

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