In a nutshell, Public Relations=publicity. How you gain publicity for your business however becomes the "sleeping giant" we all want to slay but can't figure out how to do it without spending a ton of money for a professional to do it for us or thinking it all means advertising in the local paper or radio-television stations. Well my friend, you are only 1% right and 99% wrong.
Today, sure you need to advertise (your 1%) but public relations goes way beyond that. Much of this can be done at little or no cost as well. Let's focus on some of these. Community interaction such as the local Chamber, Civic groups, or creating a blog for your company are examples of fee sources. You can also engage in public speaking as well. Reporters for area media love a good story on a business helping their community. If they do not cover it, write your own press release on what you done or are presently doing and send it out. (Check the internet on how to do this or drop me a line)
Remember when creating a public relations piece or full campaign for your business, think it through and remember who you are trying to reach. Communication is very important.
Here are some basic tips I found that have worked for me. Keep in mind I used to be on the receiving end of this when I was a broadcast journalist. I was always looking for something that was not self serving to the business but had a "feel good" story behind it.
Goals---Have goals in place and know what you are trying to achieve for your PR
campaign and review them frequently to stay on track.
Preception---What are you trying to get from your audience about how they see you?
Message---What is the message from your PR blitz? Remember if you are trying to be
self-serving, most smart journalists or reporters will ignore you.
Sources---Develop an execution for your PR plan and then go to your sources.
In conclusion your can spend money on advertising or use that other 99% that you have at your disposal. Develop relationships withn your community. Always ask yourself about your business. "What can I offer, what do I know that I can share;what do I know about a topic better than anybody else that the public would have a vested interest in?" Good luck and email me your results or thoughts.