Public relations, if done right, has measurable ROI, which makes it a smart and cost effective investment. But cost effective does not mean a company gets tons of results fast, cheap and with very little work. PR efforts usually mean a comprehensive strategy, a certain timeline to have results and sustained work to keep bringing in results. You cannot just show up, post three messages on a channel and expect everyone in the world to read them, love them and buy everything you are selling.
A lot of companies look to hire PR help that is cheap, effective and fast. Which means that, in a perfect and mythical world, they would pay a few hundred dollars and in return, in a month tops, they will have every media outlet of any and all importance write about them, they will see their sales triple or quadruple, people would become long lasting fans and they will have no future worries in what brand awareness, loyalty and sales are concerned.
It would be great if it would work like that, but it doesn’t.
Effective vs. little effort
An effective PR campaign is usually a smart one. A custom tailored strategy that’s then implemented and yields results. It means you invest the right amount of resources to get the best outcome. It does not mean you invest close to nothing, use a few voodoo words, and miraculously, over night, everything you have ever dreamed of becomes reality.
Cost effective vs. cheap
Cost effective is not the same as cheap, ever. The cost effective choice is not always the cheapest. Something becomes a smart investment when the return on that investment is satisfying. If you have no PR budget but want to get some result for 100 US dollars, that might happen. You would get a very limited number of hours in consultancy which might set you on the right track. It is however not enough to book a PR agency and get them to work their magic for a few weeks and point thousand of people your way.
Fast results vs. lasting results
Fast does not always mean lasting. Not if after seeing the first results, you stop your effort altogether. Communities, loyalty, brand recognition, positioning as an expert in a field, all these take a little to be established and properly developed. But once they start growing, if done right, they increase exponentially, and all the time, money and effort you have invested in them pays off.
In conclusion, PR can and will be a worthwhile investment, and a cost effective way to boost your business. But it won’t be cheap, quick and effective if you want it all rushed, with no investment whatsoever and to somehow turn the world into one where not having your product and service would bring the end of days. When it comes to business, every miracle has smart people, tons of effort and a wise investment behind it.