In the past, I railed about the horrific idea of attempting to automate thought leadership and PR. But for small businesses wanting to save time and money while increasing the positive results of public relations, I was heartened to discover a do-it-yourself PR idea that works.
A UK agency, PR in a Box, has developed a one-stop shop that provides small and startup businesses with an economical way to make their PR more successful for as little as £125.00 (US$168.92) per month.
The idea caught my eye because my own company had formerly attempted this model with a set of utilities called MyPRToolbox.com. We lacked the programming resources to make our program shine and diverted our focus to templated education instead.
I was curious to see what this company could provide and was gratified by what I discovered. For a long time, the process of generating press coverage is something PR professionals have shrouded in mystery and have charged large monthly retainers to help businesses create awareness of their brand in the media, the company’s press release says.
To be fair, there is compelling reason for growth-phase and mid-to-large organizations to engage expert support for their communications programs in ways that are metrically measured and driven by business and education outcomes as opposed to the agency tendency to engage in “random acts of PR.”
But for startup and smaller companies, the PR in a Box proposition is singing my tune. Early-stage PR is best conducted by the direct participants who have the understanding and passion to represent the company well. To make the PR job easier, PR in a Box has developed a set of templates for effective press releases, list building and social media activities that users can manage through a dashboard that ensures the bases are covered and the actions are accomplishing their objectives consistently well.
The dashboard includes the following functions:
- Press release writing
- Media list building, by industry (what a concept — identifying targets by assignment and focus as opposed to blindly pitching anyone and everyone who “writes a column for XXXX”).
- Social Media posting, monitoring and responding
- Mail Merge
- Monitoring what is happening with competitors and industry news
- A media center to store all imagery, releases and videos that can also serve as a resource for journalists
- Analytics, to see how press coverage affects web traffic
- Reporting, to create quick summaries of what’s being said about the business in the press, social media and web traffic
- Strategy Building
My favorite feature: depending on the size of subscription, PR in a Box provides increments of direct support and advice for users on the site. A dashboard dial tells users at a glance how much of their allotted time has been used and what is still available to them for hands-on support.
Says Founder Simon Rayner: “My passion is small businesses run by their founders, they are agile, creative and inspiring. Throughout my 16 years in PR, I have worked in a number of agencies and big brands. While traditional PR models can work very well for established brands, in my experience, it doesn’t make sense for startups. No one sells their business better than the founders themselves!”
I agree. What was the impetus for this creation?
“When the recession hit the UK, I had many brands coming to my PR agency looking for support,” he says. “Very often they didn’t have the budget to afford an agency. So I wanted to create a solution that would enable anyone to promote their business.”
PR in a Box allows founders to gain true PR experience, Rayner notes, which is a welcome contrast to services that purport to remove the job of PR by impersonating owners and putting their names at the tops of automated email pitches.
A program that costs little, is authentic and teaches founders to accomplish their own PR and to make it progressively better. In my opinion, it’s a winning combination. I look forward to observing this organization and its customers as they progress.
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Author: Cheryl Snapp Conner
Cheryl Snapp Conner is founder and CEO of SnappConner PR and creator of Content University™. She is a popular speaker, author and columnist.