Why PR isn’t always what you or your company need

Feb 28, 2024

It’s true enough, as a once-famous psychologist said, that if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

As a publicist, I admit I often see PR as a useful way to promote one’s goods or services, as well as to burnish reputations.

But more often than many fellow publicists might want to admit, not every person or company needs PR. In fact, it can sometimes be little more than a waste of time and money.

Here are a couple real-life examples of when not to bother with PR.

You have all the business you need. As in, you’re drowning in work and can’t or don’t want to expand staff or other resources to accommodate it all. Sure, you may want to do some PR now just to prepare for possible leaner times. But for whatever reasons, you’re fine with how things are going.

If your PR strategy is mostly about feeding the ego of your CEO or other execs rather than building the business. For example, when a company honcho tells me she or he “would love to be on CNBC (or other national TV outlet),” I have to ask why. Is it because doing so will help build your cred, attract fresh investment or customers, or otherwise aid the business? Or, as I’ve too often discovered, is it mostly so the boss can brag to friends and family?

Same goes even for more parochial PR. If being featured in the local newspaper or TV news program is part of a strategy to build (or at least sustain) your business – including attract fresh employee talent or wooing another company to acquire yours – then go for it. If it’s really just about boasting, then even a hammer-making pro like myself would say skip it. That being said, when does it make strategic sense to employ the services of PR professionals?

  • Launching a new product or service: When introducing something new to the market, PR can help generate buzz and create awareness among your target audience.
  • Rebranding or repositioning: If your business is undergoing a rebranding or repositioning effort, PR can assist in communicating the changes effectively to your stakeholders.
  • Managing a crisis: During times of crisis or negative publicity, PR professionals can help mitigate damage to your brand reputation and restore public trust.
  • Building brand awareness: PR is valuable for building brand recognition and establishing your business as an authority in its industry.
  • Announcing milestones or achievements: Whether it’s reaching a significant milestone or achieving an award, PR services can help amplify your achievements to your audience and industry peers.
  • Media relations and coverage: PR experts have the skills and connections to garner media coverage, which can provide valuable exposure for your business.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Engaging with various stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and communities, is crucial for business success. PR can help facilitate these relationships and maintain positive interactions.
  • Event promotion: If your business is hosting events, PR services can assist in promoting them to ensure maximum attendance and visibility.
  • Influencer partnerships: Collaborating with influencers and thought leaders in your industry can help expand your reach. PR professionals can facilitate these partnerships and manage relationships effectively.
  • Generating leads and sales: Ultimately, PR efforts should contribute to your business’s bottom line by generating leads, increasing sales, and driving revenue growth.

It’s smart to use PR services for your business when you have specific goals related to brand visibility, reputation management, stakeholder engagement, and business growth. PR professionals can offer strategic guidance and implement tactics to help you achieve these objectives effectively.