The real cost of the ‘do-it-yourself’ PR epidemic

There are four basic components to a company’s brand reputational value: business relationships, expectations, perceptions and property assets. But, possibly the most valuable asset is a good name.

One major mistake that businesses often make is allowing unqualified individuals to execute their company’s public relations. As a business owner myself, too often I hear that businesses are selecting self-taught individuals who are already assigned other tasks to take control of its online platforms, as well as its public relations.

We have done several audits and recognize that there are a lot of bad experiences from the “do-it-yourself” epidemic.

We have seen too many businesses hire unqualified individuals for their social media. They have treated the business page like a personal page or they run out of content within a few months.

Many people don’t realize that there is a difference between marketing, public relations and customer service.

Remember the impact

Over the last few years, public relations professionals have added several new responsibilities to their already extended list, which has included social media, web analytics and search engine optimization.

Day-to-day, you can find them writing press releases about company events, upcoming launches, awards, etc.; pitching articles to the media; interacting and building positive relationships with the media; and managing company messaging.

A marketing professional works on creating an advertising campaign for news products; conducting research to help drive sales for marketing campaigns; creating materials for launches, such as brochures, newsletters and fact sheets; and purchasing effective advertising spots on media platforms, such as television, radio, etc.

I understand that everyone has tight budgets, but it all comes down to priorities — and sometimes businesses forget the breadth of impact that public relations has on the business.

If you don’t have happy customers, you won’t have a business for long. It can be easy to forget that customers expect to be fully part of the brand. They want to be treated as an individual, and not just as a number.

So, having someone who is just focused on the customer service role is crucial.

You get what you pay for

To stay ahead of your competition, we want to stand out and be the exception, not just the norm. We can’t afford for our competition to take our business.

You get what you pay for. So if your company is allowing one person to wear all hats, their skillset is most likely not going to be as effective, and the business will remain average — or in come cases, below average.

So, the next time you allow your secretary to handle your public relations, remember that public relations professionals build credibility, which is especially needed if a crisis should arise; increases visibility in the community, as well as in media platforms; and if done right, offers positive returns on your investment.

Michele Cuthbert is the CEO and creator of Baker Creative, a global WBE-certified creative brand management firm based in Ohio.