Do it early and often

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Q. Does a company or organization have to be a certain size before it starts to allocate resources to public relations?

A. I’ve had startup companies that have had annual revenue of less than $1 million contact me about doing modest public relations for $1,500 a month. It is smart for an emerging company to use public relations early on to help brand their product.

It’s also a good strategy for companies or organizations dealing with policy issues that could potentially harm their industries. The rule of thumb is to get aggressively ahead of the issue before someone else does and you find yourself in a defensive posture. That’s never a good position to be in, particularly on Capitol Hill.

A company or organization is really never too small to use public relations. It is wise for most companies and organizations with annual revenue of $1 million or more to consider public relations if they’re going to use advertising. Of course, it all depends on the goals and objectives of the company or organization: Is it trying to restore its brand image, sell more of a product, maintain brand awareness or mitigate/manage a crisis? These goals require different communications tactics and costs.

Before deciding to engage a public relations firm, it is critical for the company or organization to determine what value it places on communications. That means the decision-makers need to determine how important the function is in helping them achieve their objectives, and what they’re willing to pay for it. Companies and organizations new to working with communications firms should understand that the industry of public relations is no different than other industries: Communications firms are compensated for their expertise, instincts and track record.

Crystal Wright is a public relations strategist for Baker Wright Group in Washington, D.C. Reach her at 202-829-0848 or